Mental health is a complex, ever shifting landscape of mountains and valleys. It is, really, a fragile structure and our entire lives operate based off of; an assumption that we are relatively okay. In reality, must of us are not okay. The recent pandemic not only shot people into their first-ever mental health issues. But it also sent those who already had issues, into deeper isolation. Mental health is not as simple as brushing your teeth for oral health or exercising for physical health. It is a consistent battle which relies on small choices every day, and outside people for help, support, and guidance.
Those who have never had a row with mental health may still be struggling; they may not know how or why these changes have happened. Further, those who have experience, may not know why problems aren’t going away like usual with treatment. In a very real sense, we are all still fighting the aftereffects of the pandemic. Let’s take a deeper look at why the pandemic ruined our mental health, and why we are all still struggling against the riptide.
Bereavement & Grief
The pandemic destroyed a lot of how our society functioned. Loss of jobs, loss of experiences, and most of all, loss of loved ones took hold of many people. Those lucky individuals who did not lose loved ones, found themselves in mourning with their neighbors. In the United States, the only thing that it can be likened to is September 11, 2001. Two decades later, and 9/11 still brings on emotions from those who were alive when the towers fell.
If you are wondering why things seem to be getting better, and you are still struggling on a day-to-day basis, the answer could be that you are mourning. At the time of this writing, there has been 4.03 million deaths from COVID. It is natural to feel something at that number. Further, it is natural to struggle with the weight of a world-wide pain. As things begin to move towards whatever new normal there can be, chances are, you will still be complex feelings of grief and loss—despite whatever symptoms it surfaces as.
Anxiety & Fear
One of the most incredible things that the pandemic did, was give us our own ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ villains. Except we all said it. Multiple times a day, we all said it. We all watched the news, we watched the case numbers, the events in New York, and the pleas of the doctors and nurses on the front line. The media played a huge part in both the spread of COVID information, and in its fear level. Many people are still having anxiety, even after being fully vaccinated; they still wear their masks in public places. (And, of course, there are those people who wear them for other reasons.)
After living with anxiety and fear for the better part of two years, it is natural to have difficulty with a ‘return to normal’. How can you return to normal if there are still people unvaccinated and not washing their hands? However, humans are social creatures, built within pockets of social structures, and being away from those structures will only increase the feelings of fear and anxiety and depression. If you are still struggling, even though things seem to be getting better around the world, there’s a reasonable chance that you could be suffering from anxiety.
A Future of Questions
Right now, there is still significant pushes to get everyone a vaccination. At the same time, new varieties are becoming an issue. Some are more deadly than COVID-19, some spread quicker. We are also starting to slowly call people out of their homes and back to work in their cubicle offices. Some people are starting to return to movie theaters, restaurants, bars, clubs. At the same time, many people still keep hand sanitizer in their car, their purse, their bag, even their pockets for quick access. College students are being given comprehensive tests on how to fight COVID before they all return to school in the fall. Right now, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll know any answers to any questions until we are in the midst of the great return to work and everyone is trying to go back to normal.
But what happens when these questions become overpowering? Humans naturally have questions; they can become frustrated with others because they don’t get an answer. If you are struggling, it could be because there are too many uncertainties right now.