I discovered that I’m not alone. The National Center for Health Statistics and Census Bureau reports that 30% of adults had symptoms of depressive disorder in July compared to 6.6% in July 2019, and 36% had symptoms of an anxiety disorder in July 2020 compared to 8.2% the previous July. A federal crisis hotline experienced an 891% increase in calls in March 2020 compared to the same period last year. So my feelings are definitely not unique.
I’ve read that common reactions to the pandemic include low energy level, irritability, difficulty focusing, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, lack of motivation, fear of getting sick, thoughts about death and the meaning of life. I admit to all of them. I’m grieving so many actual or potential losses: limited or no family get-togethers, eating out, In-person work schedule, social activities, televised sports, travel, etc.
Cancer survivors often talk about “the new normal” and I see many similarities with the COVID-19 pandemic. For now and who knows how long, there is a “new normal,” and we can rail against the circumstances or look for ways to navigate through the fear, uncertainty and changes that have to be made because what used to be, isn’t, and what worked in the past, doesn’t.
I’ve discovered that I can change my perspective and behavior, and I’ve found these strategies helpful:
Just like dealing with a cancer diagnosis, finding ways to take back some control during the pandemic is crucial to our physical and mental health. I start each morning by saying “Here’s what I’m going to do today to get some control back in my life.” I plan to be proactive and not get stuck in a victim mentality. While I can’t control others’ behaviors or the viral load in the community, I can control what I do, where I go and what I think. Here’s to taking back some control!
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SUE'S GIFT BLOG
Sherry Martin is the Patient Services Director for Sue's Gift, a licensed clinical social worker with over thirty years of experience in the field of oncology social work, and author of the book, Beginning Again: Tools for the Journey through Grief: A Step-by-Step Guide for Facilitators of a Grief Support Group. Sherry lives with her husband in Woodland Park, Colorado.
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