As we continue on with school closures and home confinement, everyone is having different experiences. Each child, youth, adult, and family are experiencing a change in routine, more uncertainty, and less hope for a quick solution to the Covid-19 crisis within our city and across the globe.
While strategies, routines, and new hobbies are all useful tools for keeping us emotionally afloat, they may also be the beginning of a new stigma for how people are using their time. Just as it has been and continues to be taboo to speak of your mental health struggles in daily life, it is starting to become equally hard to talk about your mental health not being great during a world-wide crisis.
Yes, we've been given the gift of more time, in our homes, with our families,pets ,comforts, and television. No, that does not mean we have to be okay with this 24/7. More importantly, it does not mean there's a single group of people who are more deserving of feeling overwhelmed and stressed than others.
Seniors, children, parents, essential workers, workers from home, the unemployed, people living alone, people living with family or friends, we are ALL experiencing a trauma here. It is excellently put by Jennifer Yaeger below:
Trauma is defined as: "a deeply distressing or disturbing experience" by Google Dictionary. Deeply distressing and disturbing can probably describe most of this Covid-19 pandemic thus far. And how that distress looks and feels to any of is very different, just as any trauma.
To draw a comparison, in the field of Child and Youth Care, we work with a lot of clients who have experience trauma. The trauma itself, as well as how it shows itself in emotions or behaviors looks very different from client to client. Each client's trauma is so unique and subjective to their experience that no text-book can fully prepare you for how a trauma will look for a client.
Something that we at Limitless Youth Inc. find important is validating and empowering our clients. Right now, we want to spread the message that just because there are a lot of ways to make this time feel better and happier, it's okay for it to still be stressful, anxiety provoking, and overwhelming at times, no matter what your circumstance is. Coping with this time looks different day to day, person to person, and that's okay!
For some of us, coping looks like sleeping longer than usual, while for others it looks like waking up at the same hours. For some people, coping is filling this time with to-do's and projects, while for others it looks like having no real schedule and spending the day watching Netflix or Disney Plus, while curling up with your favorite books. Some people organize time to connect with the people they care about, while some people are coping by avoiding phone calls because it would cause too much hurt or anxiety to talk with people right now.
There really is no right way to be adapting to this normal. If you think your coping isn't valid because it doesn't look pretty, productive, or social we want to tell you that that is still coping, and is valid. Chances are, people who are filling their time up are also doing so to cope with this time, and that is also valid.
As a community, each of us has our own unique and subjective experience with this trauma, and how it shows itself to us and to others is unique. Comparing how we use this time compared to how others are will not change how this impacts us.
What's going to be most important in this time isn't going to be how we have coped during school closures and home confinement. It will be how we come back together as a community once we can. The power of community has such helpful impacts on of all us when we let it, which can be proven by how we feel with the lack of it right now.
Our challenge to you, which we have been trying ourselves, is to see equality and compassion in our fellow community members, because that will make us stronger. Don't hold comparisons about yourself to the people you see online. Instead, recognize how they are coping right now. Acknowledge that the person who cleaned their whole basement today maybe did so because she/he was too anxious to relax at all that day, ask if they want to talk. If you have someone n your life who is coping with distraction tools, and sleeping, ask them what shows they've been watching, and which they'd recommend to you.
There is no competition or winners when it comes to coping through trauma, only different ways of doing so. Let's remember that a sense of community can start now, and we can all really help from the social/emotional work we put in right now to not put divides between ourselves.
We're all in this together, even though we feel apart. So please reach out to us if you want to talk or need some extra support during this time.