It has almost been 2 months since I've been "on pause" here in NYC. As an introvert, I was very excited about being home for what may be a while it seems. With all this free time literally teaching 1 hour a day, I have noticed that my depression/anxiety has shown up in a different way. Perhaps, you are experiencing this too.
I am going to be honest, I truly thought that my depression/anxiety would be on some sort of permanent lock down. Of course I didn't expect for it to be completely gone.... but a girl can dream right? Typically, there are certain triggers that send me into a dark spiral. This quarantine did not seem to be the culprit, at least not to me. It was not until I truly sat down with myself (as well as my therapist) to figure out what the hell was truly
Have you thought about the mental anguish the quarantine has brought about specifically in the Black community? Consider the fact, that many of us have experienced some sort of depression/anxiety throughout our lives either from personal trauma or the effects of racism in many forms.
At present, we are all inside alone, with either family/significant others we love or ones that cause us harm in some sort of way. Recently, I had a whole ass conversation with my roommate about how blessed I am to not to be in this quarantine alone. Obviously, the universe knew what I needed. This may be the case for some but for others not so much.
Does the thought of the unknown future scare you? I am constantly asking myself these questions: Where will my next paycheck come from? Will I ever be able to fulfill my dreams of full on entrepreneurship? Will I continue to have medical benefits? Will I ever meet the man I have been praying for? Will I see my kids, brothers and mom again? I am sure you and others are asking some if not similar questions.
Loneliness during this time coupled with no real income can take a major toll on your emotions. According to recent statistics, Black and Brown communities are the most affected by the COVID virus versus our white counterparts. This is due to the fact that Black/Brown people make up the largest percentage of "essential workers."
"Nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and Black or African American workers are employed in service industry jobs compared to 16% of non-Hispanic whites." - via CDC.gov
Government assistance in the form of stimulus checks and unemployment benefits is still not enough to support our families or ourselves. I have also read that many have found they made more with government assistance than on the job but that is a whole other podcast.
So what does my depression/anxiety look like? It looks like my room being unruly, anxiety about going downstairs to my basement to wash my clothes, wondering if I'm as good of an instructor to teach online with all the other big name Pilates instructors, wondering if I will ever have a relationship, why am I not productive enough because many others have started whole ass businesses and shit. Why am I tired when I have nothing but time?
Listen, I don't typically share this part of my life but I feel the need to be transparent as it could help someone. I am almost certain that I would have struggled with suicidal thoughts had I been alone. Yes, even me. We are not privy to the minds of others nor do we understand the past trauma many of us have experienced. Now more than ever we should be reaching out to others we know might possibly be struggling or ones we think are "good."
I have several friends who are experiencing some deep inner pain through all this that may have been triggered by this pandemic. I make it a point to reach out to them regularly along with some other friends of mine as well. Cause ya'll this shit ain't cute. My depression/anxiety is like "Bitch I'm still here though."
If I can offer you any suggestions, here is what I would say:
1. Allow yourself to grieve and feel these feelings. Unexpressed grief/anger leads to depression and anxiety. We need to give ourselves permission to grieve this situation and the many losses we have experienced as result. That may look like anything from crying, writing in your journal, screaming into a pillow or punching the air. Release it. I have posted a few resources at the end of this blog specifically centered around Black people but helpful for many if therapy is not available financially or perhaps you are in need of a therapist.
2. Give yourself a break from Social Media. Now I am not the one to talk because I damn near run four Instagram accounts, four Facebook pages, and two support groups. But I digress, my time away from social media means binge watching serial killer movies, occasional Pilates classes, eating whatever the fuck I want, writing these bad ass blogs and napping. Believe me, our social media accounts will be there when we get back.
3. I have already said this in the point above but a wise woman (my southern mom) once told me whenever I feel overwhelmed with what life throws at me, take a nap. She was right and that is exactly what I do. Sleep is also a form of resistance against the systemic affects of racism we as Black people are experiencing during this pandemic.
Check out the https://thenapministry.wordpress.com/ for more on this.
Listen I don't know everything but I know enough about some things. I hope that during this time, if you are struggling like me, you will give yourself some grace, time to grieve and reach out to those who truly care for you. I hope that after all this has calmed down, that you will come out stronger and more courageous to do the things only you can do on this earth. All we really can do is live one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one week at a time.
Resources for finding a therapist:
Free, Low cost or grant funded options: