When recent results from the Covid-19 Impact Survey revealed that 6 out of 10 of us had felt anxious, depressed, lonely, or hopeless in the preceding 7 days, I was reminded of that which I have mostly had the luxury of merely observing.
I heard the buzzing open of two sets of locked doors that clang loudly behind you as you enter the hospital unit where your possessions are in a locked metal cabinet and the walls are bare of objects of interest to those skilled in suicide attempts.
I witnessed the weeping father who would not see his little boys on Christmas because his malfunctioning brain led him to beat them.
I stood in the darkened hallway in hushed conversation about how long our loved one should remain on the ventilator after the umpteenth suicide attempt appeared finally to be successful.
Because of a blessing of the genes that formed my brain and a life free of the horrors of trauma, I have only had a spoonful of the feelings of daily living with anxiety, depression, or a host of other states.
As a young lawyer I had a glimpse of obsessive thoughts that kept me up half the night, fearful I would fail a vulnerable child in a custody trial the next morning. As a widow I knew the feeling of wanting to stay in the dark under the bedcovers until eternity.
These were passing seasons of feelings others face for a lifetime.
May is Mental Health Month. 1 in 5 Americans experience mental illness each year. We know this year is like no other. 18% live with an anxiety disorder. That was pre-pandemic. The millions that make up these numbers don’t set apart the caretakers, whose challenges have grown exponentially. These numbers do include your family, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends.
If your struggle is chronic or temporary, know that you are not alone. If you are spared, be grateful. And in all cases, call forth your compassion. Whether you have a diagnosis or simply a bad day, we could all use more of that right now.
For more information or to download the Covid-19 Resource and Information Guide for answers to frequently asked questions on topics from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications, visit www.nami.org.