Hey you. Yes you...

You might not know me from Adam but I'll bet we have something in common. I'll bet this whole COVID thing has stressed you out - a LOT. Maybe it's the most stressed you've ever been. Well, I have something to tell you. You are not alone. I'm right there with you. I'm stressed to the max! To the point that I want to go to bed and just sleep. But, I can't. I gotta just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

The thing is, I have it pretty - no really good. My husband and I have both stayed employed during the pandemic. With a compromised immune system, staying out of public is best for me so the fact that I am able to work at home so I don't have to go into society is HUGE. And we found an awesome place for my daughter to go this summer with a family so she won't be around a bunch of other kids. She doesn't even want to come home at the end of the day! I even have an extra couple hours in my day to do things because I don't have to get ready and drive into and home from work! By all accounts, I should be the BEST I've ever been.

So, why do I sometimes feel like it's the worst I've ever been? 

Last week in church, my pastor said something that I hadn't really thought about before. He said that he refuses to accept the term "the new normal." He refuses to believe that from here on out until the end of time, people will live their life in fear tiptoeing around COVID-19. He's right - at some point I will be able to go eat a sit down dinner at a restaurant. I will be able to shop at Walmart without wearing an N95 mask. I will be able to let my daughter attend regular summer camp with 500 of her closest friends (though she might not want to). This is temporary and nothing lasts forever. But at this moment, I can't help but think about the fact before March, I was literally on-the-go every single day. I was volunteering and working and grocery shopping and attending fundraising events and watching my daughter play sports. Now, my life is at a stand-still. To put this into perspective - my truck gets a whopping 14 mpg and I've used half a tank in three months. Plus, my daughter and husband are pretty much the only people I've seen.

My world is at at stand-still. But I still feel like I'm spinning out of control. 

Don't get me wrong - most days, I feel fine. I'm normal old me. And with my daughter finally done with "school" and tucked safely away at a friend's house during the day, having the time of her life, I'm feeling much much much less stressed. But there are days that I feel so overwhelmed, I end up just crying and crying and crying.. It's a good thing I basically grew up with my boss Chad and he knows me because I've blubbered on the phone with him more than once these past few weeks. Okay, LOTS OF TIMES. If I was on the other end of that I'd be like... Girl, get it together!  Ha!  There are days I've just decided to stop playing it safe because I'm missing my old normal so much. There are days I look around and have actually wondered - if I have to live life completely isolated from everyone I love, is it worth it?

I've even tried to make myself feel better by comparing my not-so-bad situation to people who had to live in basements for years in WWII or think about my Mamaw who lives alone and has all her groceries and provisions brought in to her. Well, that backfired. Bring on the guilt!

If you are reading this and you find yourself relating to the feelings of stress, sadness, being overwhelmed, feeling disconnected, and feeling JUST NOT RIGHT, you are not alone. Let me say that again for people in the back -- YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! 

According to recent polls, more than half of Americans-56%-reported that worry or stress related to the outbreak has led to at least one negative mental health effect. It is estimated that the pandemic could lead to 75,000 additional “deaths of despair” from drug and alcohol misuse and suicide due to unemployment, social isolation and fears about the virus. We are seeing that trend locally as well.

I received the above statement from a press release today from the Southwestern Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition about mental help being available in our area. I know that many of you aren't contemplating suicide - you are just like, "This sucks... so bad. And it's getting to me." That's where I'm at. But I also know things can escalate. And I know that it's not just about me - I love people who might be fighting unsaid battles and I need to know what to do to help them.

The good news is that help is available no matter what your current state of mind is.

The Evansville area offers many behavioral health treatment resources. They range from a need for crisis stabilization hospitalization to a need for individual and group therapy.

Now listen, if you are hesitant to seek out professional help - don't be. I have been seeing my therapist Lisa Seif for several years. When life starts getting overwhelming or I can't seem to get along with my husband, it's IMPERATIVE for me to get it all out there and seek guidance from her. She helps me understand the physiological happenings in my brain and body and how I'm responding to outside stimuli. She also gives me tangible things to do to gain perspective and turn my negative responses into positive ones. And I can tell you - they work. My husband and I both recommend her all the time.

Think of it this way - if you were sick, you wouldn't be embarrassed to see a doctor for medication or physical therapies to heal your body would you? Your brain is no different. It doesn't mean you are broken or less of a person because you feel a certain way. And there are probably treatments out there to help you feel better! Who doesn't want that?.

Here's a list of Community Helpers who can meet any need that you have. If you need help navigating or finding someone to help, contact Janie Chappell at 812-471-4521 or by email at janie.chappell@deaconess.com.

Ashley Sollars
Ashley Sollars
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