Caring For Your Mental Health in the Age of COVID
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
COVID has changed so much of our lifestyles, our ability to have dinner out, see a movie, listen to a band. The simplest things like picking up eggs and milk, become a production of either ordering online or making sure you go early enough not to deal with a day's worth of customer germs and viruses. Particularly if you are high risk like me and my husband. I wanted to do a little research about how we can protect our mental health during this time.
The CDC set out a small list about what we may experience during an infectious disease outbreak:
"Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
Worsening of chronic health problems.
Worsening of mental health conditions.
Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances."
It continued with important numbers you can call for assist - and just for good measure I want to repost those here:
Disaster Distress Helplineexternal icon: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746. Spanish speakers from Puerto Rico can text Hablanos to 1-787-339-2663.
National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chatexternal icon.
National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
National Child Abuse Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chatexternal icon
The Eldercare Locatorexternal icon: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructionsexternal icon
Veteran’s Crisis Lineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chatexternal icon or text: 8388255
Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health
SAMHSA’s National Helplineexternal icon: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
Treatment Services Locator Websiteexternal icon
Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centersexternal icon
For me, even as a married woman, it was the sense of isolation. I needed to feel more connected. More in touch with the news, with family, with friends, and just the need to know the world was going to be OK.
The isolation also showed the stress my marriage had been under during the last year when my husband had experienced a series of health set backs and five surgeries. Seeing his heart crash several times in one day and two surgeries in one day due to internal bleeding. I cared for him during all that time as any wife would, but it also created a great divide between us. One that I did not expect. We had earlier had an easier time of each of us doing little things for the other, and it had now became a time of me doing most of the work, and few thank you's or genuine appreciation being shown.
We had entered quarantine on March 1st after the year's worth of dealing with his health issues, so it was just an almost unbearable continuation of isolation. I was not in a happy place. I felt too young to be relegated to always being the caregiver when he was now capable. He was well enough to do more, but he had no desire to do so. We were in a deep funk with quarantine and I needed to do something different to find a different result.
My actions were this:
I bought myself a Waterrower to get my back un-hunched from the TV posture and to give myself strength and heart rate training. I row in a HITT pattern, elevating my heart rate then relaxing so it decreases, and then accelerating again. That works for me.
I sought out a therapist. My first was from TalkSpace, but I have to say the therapist was not familiar with the technology and made it more frustrating for me. At our second of four sessions she told me I had no sessions left and she would not speak when she did not think she would be paid. I felt she was totally unprofessional when she knew I had purchased 4 sessions and we only had one. My guess is that when she had to reschedule an appointments because of her schedule, not mine, she likely treated it as a full session. In any case I will be seeking another therapist through a different online source. What was helpful is the therapist asked that I write a summary of who I was and where I currently felt I was. It helped me know what I wanted and what I deserved.
I am now more assertive to find friends by phone and even met a few friends at the nearby beach for a walk. The sound of the waves is always consoling and regenerative.
I had a heart to heart talk to my husband, knowing we needed to get on a more romantic partnership track rather than the caretaker track. Even though we don't always go out, he tries to make it special as a date night during the week. He also has spent more time helping my daughter, and as a devoted mother, that is always a way to my heart.
I started to figure out my next business venture and how that would play out for me in a way to protect my own health and give me purpose.
If you need to find guidance in working through your own solution, I am here for you. Let's talk.