“Anxious. Overwhelmed. Burned out. Stuck.”
A New York Times article from December 16th, 2021 headlines: “We Surveyed 1,320 Therapists, and the News Isn’t Good”.
If you’ve read it, you will remember that the story is around how our “front liners” are suffering from “an emerging health care crisis”.
It resonated with me based on the private responses that I received from my first COVID blog. I received several private messages from people who had or are still going through the “long” COVID-19 symptoms and its destabilizing effects.
Most pressing among them is this sense of being unexpectedly ostracized, shamed and being stigmatized because their experience, like mine, was severe.
My personal tête-à-tête with COVID has petitioned more compassion, patience and equanimity in my consciousness. My way of praying has changed. My meditation practice has become more of an out loud conversation with God. A very simple and direct conversation around the act of surrendering, and letting go of the many meanings that I give to things and situations.
And what happens when we surrender? We can view the Truth of what is with more clarity and clemency.
There is no question that people are struggling with mental health issues but not all mental health issues look alike. Many of my psychiatrist/psychologist/M.D. friends are overwrought, that which the article speaks of. They are exhausted, burnt out. It has become all too much for any one person to bear. These might not be considered mental health issues per se but they certainly affect the capacity for mental health.
It seems like COVID is that irreversible drop that floweth the cupeth over. Yet before this pandemic, the fragility of our minds and thoughts was already gaunt. Our evolving affair with disorder and addiction was already at an all-time high.
We were already dealing with the overload of information via technology (remember that?!), cell phone addiction, overwhelmed by work, feeling disconnected from society, and the dangerous meta world of comparison.
COVID has certainly exacerbated the situation, in many ways yet unknown, along with an uncanny amount of somatic responses. Our highly sophisticated bodies are being forced to process feelings and emotions despite us. As Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor shares in her latest book, Whole Brain Living, “…we humans are feeling creatures who think, rather than thinking creatures who feel.”
In an unexpected way, our nervous system has been hijacked as a way of life. In mindfulness practice, we discuss having a hijacked nervous system based on trauma. It feels like our present state of living is in a constant and irrepressible state of anguish.
All of the people who reached out to me after I posted about my condition on facebook wanted to extend their love and compassion for my predicament. But there was something else that they wanted to share: their feeling of ostracization due to COVID. (You can read Matthew’s impressive and vulnerable response to my last blog here pertaining to his personal experience with this).
What I found out was that people were feeling hopelessly alone but mostly misunderstood. It appears that COVID has not only wreaked havoc in people’s bodies but also in people’s hearts and minds.
What I learned from my own experience is that perfectly good-natured people are side-swiped by the severity of the virus and lose all sense of compassion. The ongoing media circus never helps, of course, but the reality of COVID exhaustion combined with the fear and ignorance of it is perforating our hearts.
And THAT is scary.
I also want to emphasize that I don’t believe that “those” people who might react without compassion or kindness towards those who have gone through or are going through very serious bouts with COVID are inherently bad people.
My point is that now that we have more information about how this volatile virus affects people, that we might realign our compasses towards our “true” North. And, that True North (it’s worth capitalizing) is the alignment of body-mind through the heart of compassion practice.
What will it take for us to find our humanity again? How can we stop judging the “other”, the “different”? COVID did not cause our loss of human connection. It has exasperated it BUT it did not cause it.
I suppose that this blog is my cry for help. It’s me pleading with you to please reach inside your hearts and souls and slow down the judgment process that occurs within. This is my plea to you and to me, to consider your most powerful weapon in your forgiveness arsenal.
Whenever you get angry, frustrating or flat out hateful towards the “other” because they don’t believe in what you believe or if they’ve hurt you in any way, see if answering the following questions might insight a touch of grace within…
- What kind action can I take today to alleviate suffering or pain in my life?
- What can I do to elevate my thoughts and actions towards forgiveness?
- How can I integrate more acceptance in my life?
- What singular action can I take today to express kindness towards another especially if I disagree with them?
“For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa.