Addressing uncertain times

Corona Mask Covid  Coronavirus  - Caniceus / Pixabay
Caniceus / Pixabay

Do you feel overwhelmed by current events and the uncertain times they create? Does the world feel like less of a safe place due to events of the past several years (or even news going back to 2001?) Do you have a difficult time listening to the news, and respond either by avoiding it or obsessing with it? If so, you’re not alone. Our country and our world has been shaken by many events that feel seismic in nature. We certainly face uncertain times.

These events have had powerful effects on average people. Many people are having a difficult time paying the bills or making ends meet due to decreased business or cuts or being laid off from work. People who are disabled or have health problems are particularly vulnerable to the often long-lasting or lethal effects this devastating coronavirus. They may feel particularly vulnerable and invisible, especially when other people address the crisis by refusing to wear masks and pretend the crisis doesn’t exist. People of color are also disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. Many people may feel forced to work in conditions that don’t feel safe, even if they have vulnerable family members.

And the slower moving crises of racism, a declining standard of living and climate change were taking their toll long before the COVID-19 pandemic or even the election of Donald Trump. While we often hear pundits talk about things returning to normal, the “normal” was unsustainable for many people. These include people dealing with systemic racism, people having a difficult time paying rent or bills despite working more than forty hours per week, and the growing number of dire warnings about the effects of climate change that many people are starting to see around themselves now.

As a mental health practitioner, I have long held that the mental illness many of us deal with often has its roots in a mental illness collectively held by society. I reject an often-held belief that almost all mental illness begins with the individual with very little of it brought about by society. I think the reverse is true. And current events can generate or exacerbate anxiety and depression, as well as other existing mental illnesses.

As a child of the 80s, I worried about the threat of nuclear war and the growing environmental crisis. Unlike many people, I wasn’t satisfied with sweeping these fears under the rug, though doing so is an undertandable response to something that feels overwhelming. I have empathy with people who feel that pushing such concerns aside simply isn’t an option. There feelings are far from exclusive to Millennials and GenZ’ers, but a growing number of people from younger generations justifiably feel that they can’t push these issues aside.

I offer a space for people to process what is happening around them. You are not alone in feeling affected by current events, even though you might feel like you’re dealing with it alone. Even if the “illness” is external, I help you come to terms with the reality around us and help you respond to it in away that is appropriate to your needs and circumstances.

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