Times Like These

For those suffering from mental health issues, what’s happening in the world right now will be particularly challenging. The unpredictability. The change. Those are the kryptonite of the anxious.

The ‘unprecedented’ nature of the current situation might feel overwhelming. But as I think about the courageous young people I have met and heard about over the last 7 years, I can’t avoid the fact that they have resources of tenacity and strength that I previously didn’t know existed.

This is indisputably true.

It’s not empty flattery or encouragement. It is a fact.

I once wrote a children’s story about what ‘brave’ is. The message is simply that brave is feeling fear and still trying. And young people with severe mental health issues do that every day. Just when they think they’ve felt the worst that they could feel, their brain throws a curveball and it seems like maybe the thought or feeling right now is even worse than that. That’s the nature of mental illness.

And yet, these amazing young people keeping going.
They put one foot in front of the other.
They breathe in. They breathe out.
And time passes.
And something that might not have seemed possible happens … 
One day they realise that they don’t feel quite as bad as they did.

That they’ve done some things and maybe interacted with some people.
And they might just have reached the other side of that torrent of fear. 

Not in an instant. 
Not like a switch turning off.
But gradually, bit by bit. Getting through it.

That is what will happen with the coronavirus and the measures needed to minimise its impact.

This will end, every pandemic and epidemic will end.

The world will get to the other side.

It might feel to so many that there have never been ‘times like these’ before. So reassurance can feel empty. But there have never been times like any particular time period. There has never been another minute like the minute that just passed. Never been a Christmas like last Christmas.  Every time is history is unique. So this one, in that respect is no different.

So we can’t overlook that:

  • there has never been a time when science and medicine have been so advanced.
  • there has never been a time when knowledge can be so quickly shared.
  • there has never been a time when we could stay at home AND see our friends via a screen AND discover how to make a snack from the things that had disappeared into the pantry’s black hole. AND play video games with someone on the other side of the world AND think of our favourite movie and then watch it on a phone AND join a universal quest to be the most impressive at throwing paper into a bin.
But interestingly, there is an exception to this rule of unique times.
An important exception that can’t be denied.

If you are one of those young people who has had challenges and got to the other side, you can’t ignore the fact that you have done this before.
That you have felt the weight and pushed through it.
That you have experienced that eternal internal scream that eventually hushed.
That you have got through before. So you will get through again.

Because you have the strength and the skills to do it. Even when you think you don’t.

You’ve proved it already. You’ve done it already. (And there others around you who might not have.)
You have the EXPERIENCE and the RESOURCES.
And never forget that you have the SUPPORT.
You have people who are sending you their strength and their love and their energy.
People you know. And even people like me who you don’t know.
But mostly you’ve got the COURAGE. Based on the clear definition, you are BRAVE.
So you’ve got this one.
Just breathe in. And breathe out. 
And FaceTime a friend.
Watch a Koala on Livestream while you listen to some soothing music.
Tell your grandma a joke on Facebook.
Download an app that’ll make cuisine from the ingredients you’ve got (or just go ahead a make that m&m sandwich)
Think of someone you can help just by staying where you are.

You know you can do it.

So tell someone else that they can too.

And we’ll all get to the other side together.

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