Just as a movement that emphasized self-care was starting to gain mainstream momentum, we’ve found ourselves facing an unexpected new obstacle. Our world had (has?) been turned upside down by COVID-19, bringing up feelings that range from anxiety to grief and are combined with moments of intense boredom. Even when we do find our footing and achieve some sense of normalcy, guilt can rear its ugly head and send us spiralling again.
As therapists, mental health advocates, and clients, we know how valuable therapy is. Therapy today is one of the few spaces where we show up as we are without fear of judgment or consequence, to make space for ourselves to be understood and supported. This allows us to let our guard down and discover our authentic selves and needs. By connecting deeply and meaningfully in this way, therapists are one of the few people who get to see the core of another. Therapists recognize that in a world that so effectively masks its insecurities and the qualities that make us uniquely human, we all have common (if not the same) needs, desires, struggles, thoughts, and feelings. These similarities have the power to make us feel more connected, if we could all harness the vulnerability to show them.
We’ve learned that beneath the hand-selected highlight reels often showcased on social media, as well as in our push to be endlessly productive to define our worthiness, we all have that little voice in our head convincing us that what we do isn’t enough. We’re invested in being better, but are also so quick to demerit our accomplishments, that we don’t honour the work it took to get there in the first place.
Even those who seem to have it all - a great relationship, a thriving career or influence - also struggle.
As we grapple with COVID and how it has uprooted our lives, we are left in a realm of uncertainty where insecurity, anxiety, and catastrophizing can show up without warning. Many of our socialization and self-care routines have been put on hold, and this has left us feeling lonely and disconnected at times. Social media does connect us, but depending on the accounts we follow, we often bring home a souvenir of shame because of that hand-selected highlight reel. We are wired to compare, but what if we started connecting with our inner selves instead?
Here at (blog name), we want to create a community where people can share experiences, questions and perspectives to discuss with each other openly, honestly and respectfully. Through sharing therapy insights, resources and encouraging discussion, we want to create a space where we can all own the same fearlessness and vulnerability that one would show when walking into their therapist’s office. We want to create an environment where we can unite to feel seen, heard and supported. It’s worth reminding ourselves that despite the isolation we’ve been forced into, we are all collectively dealing with this crisis together… something therapists like to refer to as “common humanity.” There are avenues for us to find connection despite having to be physically distant.
Now more than ever, we need each other.
We all have our own unique experiences, but we often forget or don’t even realize that other people go through incredibly similar ones as well. (Blog name) will be a place for us to recognize that we’re part of a much larger community of individuals who are exploring the truth about themselves and providing the gentle care and compassion that’s often reserved for everyone but themselves. By connecting with each other here, we’ll be able to find the resilience and camaraderie needed to make it through this pandemic, and come out on the other side… ready to tackle any obstacle that life throws our way.
Each Monday we will post about a theme or insight from therapy, as well as a client’s response. We hope you can relate to these perspectives and we encourage you to share your own. We will be managing this space and contributing throughout the week, and are hopeful that growth-fostering discussions and connections will be made.
A Client’s Perspective or (A Client's Take)
For me, COVID has brought about a whole basket of emotions. I’m scared for my best friend who’s a nurse battling on the front-lines. I’m sad for my sister who just finished her last year of university but didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to friends she might never see again. I’m terrified for my cousin who’s a single-mother of two and has just been laid off.
Then there’s the guilt that makes my chest tight. I haven’t lost my job because of COVID. I haven’t lost any friends or family to the disease, either. Yes, my life has changed but surprisingly, for the better. I’ve rediscovered friendships with people I haven’t talked to in years. I’ve been forced to slow down, which has allowed me to see what matters most. I focus on the present instead of always searching for the future. No, I can’t physically be with friends or family but connecting online, sharing our worries, and supporting one another during this very difficult time has only made us closer. Insert intense feelings of guilt once again. How can I be doing okay and dare I say it, be happy, while I see people all around me suffering?
And social media, don’t get me started. I’d see friends posting about the bread they’d just homemade, the online courses at Harvard they’d just completed, and the workouts they’d just finished. Yes, I’m getting through this quite okay, but logging onto social media and seeing constant reminders of the things I wasn’t doing was draining. It made me anxious and defeated and in short, it had to go. I appreciate everyone copes in their own ways and for some, social media is that way. For me, that’s definitely not the case and while difficult at first, deleting those apps has given me so much clarity and relief.
I don’t know how long this will last for, but I do know connection is key. It’s what has kept me sane; connecting with others and myself, leaning on people and allowing them to do the same, and accepting my feelings for what they are, while recognizing there isn’t one right way to feel.