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MENTAL HEALTH AND COVID-19

EMOTIONS AND IRRITABILITY IN COVID-19

How are you doing at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you find yourself feeling less anxious but possibly more irritable? If you are, you are not alone. We reached out to licensed counselors who also call Crazy Love their home, and Erica Daudt shared this with us. We pray it provides support and encouragement for where you are.

 

From Erica Daudt, Licensed Mental Health Counselor:"I would like for you to hear that what you are feeling right now, whatever it might be, is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. I'm a therapist, which means I speak in the language of analogies and metaphors. I run the risk of being cliche but please bear with me as I think it can help put our emotional experience, which can be hard to articulate, in a relatable form. These are observations based on what I'm hearing from my clients and reading about as well. I hope it helps bring a sense of validation to your struggle and offers something to hold onto as you find your way out of it."

  • A Tower of Blocks: We work so hard to build our lives according to the parameters we have to work with. Much like a child builds a tower out of blocks or how ants design elaborate tunnels to live in. This pandemic has swept through and ruined many block towers and anthills. Many are completely demolished. Many haven't survived. Not to mention all the life plans that have been put on hold. The list of losses people are suffering from as a result of COVID-19 is seemingly unending, impacting every person on some level, and heartbreaking for many. The first part of the pandemic found many of us fearful about the unknown virus, concerned with how to keep everyone healthy, and wondering how long it could all last. We were adjusting to the shock of it all.

  • Making Sense of it All: Now, as the shock is wearing off, we're noticing a trend of growing irritability. We are designed to survive. We are wired to solve problems; for example, have you ever wondered why some people only seem to notice what needs to be fixed? And, typically, when something happens that destroys what we've built – after working through our existential angst – we start rebuilding. This scenario of disappointment in and of itself is very painful and often takes time to work through because it introduces us to the painful reality that our man-made constructs aren't as dependable as we wish they were; and, if we dare to rebuild, we do so knowing that what we're investing in now might not last either. However, with this pandemic, we don't even have the option to rebuild, even if we were ready to. There is too much uncertainty about the future outlook of this virus to make an informed decision about the next steps, and then the quarantine wouldn't allow for it anyway in many cases. So we're being forced to live amongst our rubble without an option to rebuild yet. I'm hearing from many people that they want to do something to move forward but just can't. This powerlessness can be incredibly frustrating and many Americans have never been through something like this before so simply lack the context to cope. I hope this offers some insight into why this is so hard and why your reaction is normal given these abnormal circumstances.

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  • The God of Hope:  I'm also so thankful our stories as believers don't end here. Isaiah 61:3, offers the following promise, "to all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory" (NLT).

EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH IN COVID-19

Self-isolation, self-quarantine, and an unknown future can feel scary. Listed below are some important things to keep in mind for emotional and mental health in this season from two mental health counselors who are members of Crazy Love. And remember, even though it’s important to stay home right now for your safety and those of others, you are not alone. The Lord is with you, and so are we. Reach out to a trusted friend, your CareGroup leader or members of your CareGroup, or our pastors. You can also click here to share your prayer requests with us.

  • We are in the middle of a collective trauma. In trauma, the goal is to survive. We will heal after it's over. In the meantime, going back to the basics is key. How to make sure you are getting rest, eating adequately, finding ways to incorporate movement, finding ways to self-soothe, and creating space for quiet as we're cooped up alone or with family and/or purposefully maintaining connection. There is a lot of messaging around using this time to accomplish a lot of tasks and this is a great idea but few are actually able to do that (because of the trauma) and have self-judgment because of that, which is completely unnecessary. It's a lot to ask that someone try to thrive in a time of trauma; it's asking them to try to override what their nervous system is doing.

  • The American culture is not accustomed to rest and we are being mandated into forced rest. With rest/quiet, emotions and thoughts we've distracted from tend to surface. Most are unprepared for this and it can feel especially troublesome on top of the threat to health and uncertainty introduced by the pandemic - both of which are already existential fears most struggle with on some level.

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  • It's important to allow yourself to feel the way you do, to validate that this is scary and it's really hard. To not try to convince yourself otherwise. Rather, to invite the messiness and allow yourself to be honest about how you’re feeling. You will figure your way through it as you allow yourself to process. This is a good time to revisit basic emotion-regulation skills.

  • A lot of the information we're receiving is based on scientific forecasting, which is incredibly bleak sometimes. Science is valuable and it also doesn't account for the God-factor. That God is bigger than science and the potential of all the threats constantly around us. That we're protected from more than we'll ever know and we've been given bodies that are designed to survive. Not to invalidate what we're facing but to invite space to consider that we don't know what the future holds and to focus on the present moment - always an important skill. The hope factor.

  • Normalize that there is no precedent for meeting the demands of this season. We've never had to cope with something like this and so it makes sense that most are feeling lost or incompetent. However, you have a track record of a 100% success rate in facing new hard things because you’ve survived them.

  • We are seeing a rise in relapse of all kinds of issues, which is not surprising. Understand that we will go back to what we know. Knowing this, allows us to feel more peaceful and to break the power dynamic—not fighting against it vs. working with it.

OTHER RESOURCES:

 

“The Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” – An interview by Harvard Business Review with David Kessler, world renown expert on grief. You can also download a PDF of the article here.

Talking with Your Kids about COVID-19

 

“Coping with COVID-19: Managing Stress and Anxiety” Tip Sheet from The Humanitarian Disaster Institute

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