When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But what happens to the weak? (Asking for a friend).
My heart aches for anyone who has recently pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and conquered some insurmountable mental health challenge—some beastly depression, panic disorder, OCD, whatever it may be—and now they’re thrown back through the wringer due to the pandemic that’s swept the globe.
A little isolation in manageable doses can be an emotional elixir; but a lot of isolation, all at once, can be the tipping point for anyone who was already on the edge.
So to anyone suffering inside their minds during this time, understand one simple thing:
You will eventually emerge from the fiery depths of hell, feeling like the most powerful motherf*cker to walk the face of the earth. There is a special neurochemical blast reserved for the resilient. Anyone who has endured what they thought they couldn’t knows how good it feels. There is no more badass feeling than the comeback.
And when things have reached some level of normalcy again, you’ll find yourself thirsting for more suffering. Because nothing “hits” quite like being dished your own personal poison, and having to scramble to find new ways to mobilize your heart, mind and soul in order to heal from it.
That, my friends, is the essence of resilience: adapting to difficult circumstances, and coming out the other side with an imperturbable mind.
1. Face yourself. Realize that any issue you are facing now, would eventually have to be faced. Removing the hustle and bustle of life is just expediting this process of purification. Get up one more time, and always one more time. Recognize the cyclical nature of life, and of progress.
2. Remember that you are not starting from nothing. While all the progress you have made may feel futile, you’re not starting from scratch. You conquered these difficulties before. You will conquer them again. Lean on the lessons you learned from your first battle through the darkness. You’ll realize that the half-life of your relapse has the potential to be a lot shorter if you remain aware. The more self-knowledge you derive during difficult times, the less difficult subsequent times become—because you learn how you respond, what you need, what truly helps.
3. Get back to basics. If all you can do is crawl, then crawl. If all you can do is breathe today, then breathe. And if you have panic attacks like I used to (and sometimes still do), and you can’t even breathe, that’s okay too. Eventually, you’ll garner the strength to check more boxes, to keep moving forward. Try your best to check these boxes everyday:
Health: pay special attention to your nutrition. Mental health is inseparable from the information you are providing to your body through food. You cannot expect your mind to function like a smooth-running car when you are filling it with diesel instead of gas.
Creativity: self-expression is a vehicle for self-transcendence. When we create, we are contributing to the ever-expanding universe. I have nothing truly startling to say about creativity apart from the fact that it just feels good, it does good, and it will help you through your roughest times.
Connection: While in the confines of your dwelling place, find ways to connect with other humans. The “Call a Friend” option is a lifeline on daytime TV for a reason. Your loved ones are there for you. You don’t have to dish out the details of your depression. No one is asking you to bear your soul to someone who didn’t ask. Connection can be as simple as sending a friend a message, or giving someone a call to ask how they’re doing.