Let's Talk About Mental Health...
... is the phrase everyone carries on the tip of their tongue. Isn't it simply infuriating to hear this most mundane expression from someone who can barely conceive what an individual with anxiety and devastating thoughts is going through? Now add to the mix a global pandemic and the light at the end of the seems fainter than ever. #AloneTogether. Indeed we are... alone. I am not here to dismiss problems in the world that turn it into a hellish place. Wars. Conflicts. Poverty. Crisis in the hospitals. Shortage of resources. These are all very real problems that are only worsened by the current pandemic.
However, there is one fundamental and common enemy that we are ALL battling at the present moment. For some more than others, this silent enemy has not only infiltrated their minds, their thoughts and their hearts: it has devastated their homes.
The happy marriage and the happily ever after that were so tangible only a couple of months ago? For some, this is faint memory of the current nightmare they are going through. They see their partner's true colours and it is not a pretty picture. It is something like The Scream à la Edvard Munch. Except, there is absolutely no one who can hear.
For some, they self-isolation became an opportunity. It is a once-in-a-lifetime, cliche during which they can spread their wings and explore the depths of their dreams, aspirations, hobbies. For others, quarantine was the void they were so desperately working on avoiding. It took so long and so much work to feel in touch with reality, to look at the sky again with hope, to feel real and to believe there is more. Tell me, how do you avoid falling in the same pit if you cannot even look outside, look up, look forward?
When these thoughts materialise themselves into actions, the beast is often truly unleashed. For some, it starts with a single shout. Then, the shout becomes as hurtful as a slap. The enemy transforms into a violent hurricane. There is no one around and we are alone together.
Women. Women attempt to hopelessly reach to one another on Facebook. They are desperately looking to "buy soap" from one another - their only way out. Tell me, how can we recognize the impact of mental health on our lives and the lives of our loved ones if we ignore the fact that those who suffer the most have to use "morse code" as their last resort?
For some, the quarantine took shape as a brutal halt in their career. Yesterday, they were planning their vacation. Their biggest concern was the beach they will pick and the route they will take. Today, their mind races at the thought of losing their home or not being able to support their family.
For our superheroes, life has been far from a dream. It is not breaking news that front line workers have succumbed under pressure, stress or the disease itself. When they find a moment to enjoy a song or make an entertaining Tik Tok dance, the public is quick to snap. Have you stopped to think what happens to a pressure cooker if you don't release even so slightly the pressure?
Then, there are those who actually kept their daily occupations and now are working from home. From the side, it might seem like a walk in the park. It quite literally is far from being the case. On the other side of the screen, we find people reaching out for help. They are counting on us in these stressful times to continue their life-saving treatments. For them, it is all about these few months they have left on Earth. It is about getting their medications on time, getting assistance and making it to that milestone even if the sky is falling apart.
The worst nightmares are those in which they lost a loved one. Grief. Pain. Darkness. There is no way out. It's not like they can just take a sip of fresh air - they are desperately gasping to find meaning in an empty world, a world of sadness, confusion and perpetual death. The death of a loved one is a weight of stone in your pocket - it is always present no matter how much time slips away.
Ultimately, there are those who survived. The "lucky" ones that recovered. This disease infiltrates more than our lung cells - it infiltrates our minds. Months after the recovery, the "lucky" ones will find themselves dealing with the scarring, the shortness of breath, the crippling fatigue. Their battle has only begun.
It is really safe to say that this is the new normal and we should abandon the idea of life as we knew it.
The reason I am taking the time to explore this primordial theme is because in a prolonged state of crisis, we often forget to be human. We are outside among others and the safety measures that were instilled to keep us safe have alienated us from each other more than ever before. It is not normal to let aggression take over our actions. It is not okay to look at two people and snap at them because they did not move 6 ft away from her when they were cashing out. It is definitely outrageous to even think of abusing someone else, whether is physically or mentally. If you cannot do good, I invite you today to at least refrain from being merciless. We are all alone together in this pandemic, but some have been suffering longer than others from isolation and thoughts that have only dragged them backwards for a big part of their life. Please, I am imploring you to be mindful and to never just assume.
For some, the isolation and the resulting depression (for lack of a more inclusive term) has been only a bitter, but temporary taste of others' daily existence. Let us not just talk about crippling mental health. Let us face it and realize it is the greatest enemy of them all. Let's be more than #AloneTogether. Let's be #BetterTogether.