How We Cope Sometimes (Now With Crutches!)

This is an exceedingly difficult time; I’m sure you won’t disagree. I’m having trouble focusing and mostly just want this whole year to be over with, but I know that Coronavirus doesn’t just expire on December 31st, so I’m not even sure what I’m waiting for, exactly. 

Things are hard, and they have been for months, and they might continue to be, without an exact end date. 

Those of us who gravitate towards control and preparedness are not built for this sort of spontaneous-apocolaypse-type-situation. 

But – here we are. 

Conventional therapy often leans hard into eschewing “crutches” of any kind – something about weakness; that we should all just be able to handle whatever comes our way with pure objectivity and serenity, and if and when we don’t it’s because we’re weak people. I’m not sure where this notion came from (the Great American Value Vault, I would guess), but I don’t see how this approach is A) realistic and viable, and B) mentally healthy. When we come up against tiny challenges, sure – lets gently stretch ourselves and see how we do. But when we’re living through the impermeable mammoth of a beast that is 2020, some crutches are in order, and necessary. Because at this point we’re all hobbling around with broken legs – every last one of us. 

Here’s some thoughts on giving yourself the support you deserve and need to get you through today, and tomorrow, and possibly even the month:

  1. Now is not the time for self-improvement. Focus on the baseline things: eating, hydrating, sleeping, and socializing with your people in whatever ways you are able. If you want to because it feels good, move your body. If you want to because you’re out of energy, rest. These are the only things that need to matter right now, and maybe for the foreseeable future. 
  2. Take your time. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the need to take breaks much more frequently than I used to. I’m less productive than usual, which always sounds certain alarm bells for me (and many other like-minded individuals I know) – but that’s okay. The alarms can sound, and I can thank them and carry on without turning into a production machine right now. It’s not a time of creation (for me, and maybe for you) – it’s a time of respite. 
  3. Find solace in the small things that make you smile. I’m watching Gilmore Girls for the 800th time, and it is bringing me so much comfort. So is petting my cats, and delicious cups of tea, and Lindy West’s new book, and the birch trees on my walking path. Simple little things I can still appreciate are worth their weight in gold. 
  4. Give yourself room to be scared, or frustrated, or sad. There are many of us that are grieving right now – for the state of our country, for lost time, for people that have passed. Grief takes time and is appropriate and reasonable. There is nothing weak about being completely pissed or depressed or terrified right now – literally anything goes. If those emotions come up for you, respect them and give them the space they deserve. You aren’t losing your grip – you’re coming to terms with a difficult reality and that brings up Hard emotions. Allow for them. 
  5. Talk. Say the things. Say what matters to you, say how you feel, speak your truth, be authentic. In this time we need to give ourselves room to be flawed and to ask for help and to share our experience. If we wall ourselves off from each other, we are only further isolated in this already immensely isolating experience. If you can benefit from a therapist or a coach, get one. If you think a support group would help you, join one. If you have a best friend you’ve already called twice this week, call them again. It’s ok. It’s necessary. 

I don’t know what is going to heal us or get us to the other side of all of this. I have no special therapist-y advice for getting better or feeling better – I’m not there yet, and I doubt very much that most other people are, either. So, let’s sit in the not-okay-ness, and give ourselves permission to be not okay. 

I hope all this ends soon. But if not – I’m happy to sit in it with you. 

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