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12 Reminders You Need Right Now If You’re Struggling With the Coronavirus Pandemic

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I’m struggling to feel like anything will be OK again. It feels like everything is changing so quickly that I can’t catch up, can’t make sense of it, can’t breathe. I find myself reverting to old trauma responses. I’ve been living more intensely in a fight-or-flight state, and when I’m not in a sympathetic overload, I freeze. I’m struggling to ask for help, believing I’m just a burden. I’m terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing. I’m afraid of hurting other people, of not being careful enough.

Due to the new-to humans coronavirus (COVID-19) — which causes respiratory infection and can lead to serious or fatal health complications —I know the current circumstances are causing me to regress a bit in my mental health treatment. And that is really frustrating for me. I see the struggles; I see myself sinking, and I’m not always sure how to pull myself above the water. With all of the unknowns and news changing each day, I don’t know what to hold onto. So, these are some things I’ve started telling myself:

1. “I am OK.”

There are a lot of unknowns. I don’t know if I will contract this virus. And, if I do, I don’t know what will happen. In the meantime, I am trying to remind myself that I am OK. Things may not return to the “normal” we once knew, and that is going to be really difficult for some people (myself included). There’s no minimizing that. It will take time to adapt to the “new normal.” It’ll take time to feel safe again. It’ll take time to find our way, and that is OK and understandable.

2. “There are people in my life who care about me. That is stable. That is true. That will never change.”

This is a big one for me. I struggle feeling like anything is safe or stable in general. But with the upheaval in the world with this pandemic, I’m struggling even more than usual. I find myself wondering: “Will anything be the same? Is there anything to hold onto? Anything stable?” There are a lot of changes going on, a lot of instability. However, there are some things that are true, that are stable, that aren’t going to disappear or change. There are certain people in my life who care, who are there, who are real and who aren’t going to leave.

3. “I am not alone.”

I am trying to remind myself that I am truly not alone. There are people out there, whether via video chat or online, who want to be there and who I can be there for, too. We truly are in this together. Yes, we may be stressed out and scared, but we can support each other through that.

4. “It is OK to ask for help and/or support.”

I wrote another article about this very topic. It can be difficult to ask for help in general, but even more difficult during this pandemic. It is OK and important to ask for the help we need. We need to be leaning on one another during this time. Things are really hard. We’ve never been through something like this in our lifetimes.

5. “I can only do so much.”

I’ve seen posts on social media of people who are using their time in isolation incredibly productively. While I feel happy for them, I have felt discouraged and like I’m not doing enough. I keep trying to remind myself that I can only do as much as I can do and that is enough. My best is enough. And right now, my best on some days may be just getting through the day, whereas on other days it may be writing and doing work and going to appointments. It is OK if some days we don’t do as much as others.

6. “It is OK to not feel OK.”

This is an important one that I remind myself of multiple times a day. We are allowed to be struggling, and those struggles don’t need to be related to what is going on right now.

7. “This, too, will end.”

Eventually, this pandemic will pass and we will be able to leave our homes and interact with each other again. We don’t know when this will be but we can hold onto the knowledge that this won’t last forever.

8. “Not everything is lost.”

I have found that it can feel like I’ve lost so much since this pandemic started: freedom to leave my home and go out; social interactions (as limited as those already were); my mental health has declined; my decision-making abilities have worsened. I’m struggling a lot, but not everything is lost. We still have connections online — appointments via video chat. I still have my writing. People are still there, they just may not be physically with us.

9. “Change is hard.”

I struggle a lot with change. Many of my traumas have centered around change, so when things change, I dissociate. I freak out. I panic. I breakdown. I run away. I cry. I freeze. If you struggle with change, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. There are a lot of changes going on daily. It often feels like when I catch up and process one change, something else is already different. And this is really hard.

10. “It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to feel whatever you feel.”

There is a lot of fear going around these days, and fear can be an adaptive, good thing. It alerts us to something that is wrong. But it can also feel really scary and awful.

11. “It is OK to feel numb … to feel nothing.”

I’ve read some articles on this response to the current pandemic, and I relate to it at times. I went from a state of unbearably heightened anxiety to feeling calm, nothing, numb. There’s been a fluctuation between those states, and I’ve often faulted myself for feeling nothing. But it’s an honest, real response. It doesn’t mean I’m not taking things seriously. It doesn’t mean I’m not being careful and cautious and safe.

12. “Your other struggles matter, too.”

I have felt like this pandemic is overshadowing all of the other things I am dealing with. So much of what is written, including this article, is about the pandemic. And that makes sense. It is important and real and scary. But so are other challenges we are enduring. We may have come into this with other traumas we are trying to work through, mental illnesses we’ve been battling for years, etc. Those matter, too, and it is really important to keep talking about them, to keep working through them, to keep treating them. They don’t disappear just because of what is going on. If anything, they may be exacerbated by what is going on.

Times are really painful and difficult and confusing right now. However you’re responding is OK.

Struggling with anxiety due to COVID-19? Check out the following articles from our community:

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Originally published: April 11, 2020
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