My husband and I were chatting the other night over dinner about a peculiarity we share. When we were younger, school was a natural alignment to time, such as when we were in certain grades or the year we graduated. I’m fairly certain this alignment to memories to what occurred when was somewhat clear, yet there is no promise to that. It seems the majority of my memories “pre-COVID” are a jumbled conglomeration of more innocent times filled with handshakes, hugs, and far less Lysol.
When I examine time post-COVID, the clarity is uncanny. I can distinguish memories easily, as can my husband. Whether it be attributed to the short-term or stress, it's irrelevant. It seems we are stuck with the reality that this virus is not fizzling out anytime soon.
For those who are unsure, Adjustment Disorder is a very real diagnosis. It is when there is a development of emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor that has a clinical impact and impairment on one’s ability to function within 3 months of the stressor.
Folks, we are roughly eighteen months into a hellish nightmare with no break in sight. Opinions aside, I am back to counseling with a mask on and maintaining as much social distance as appropriate. Parents sit on my couch with death grips on tissues as they process the feat of sending their children back to school yet feeling as if they are sending them into warzones. Hospitals are overflowing once again, medical professionals are seeing double, shortages of goods haunt us within most every facet of our lives. The unknowns keep us up at night, fear grips our subconscious as COVID continues to place our loved ones within hospital walls we are unable to step foot in. Unpredictability is enmeshed within our worlds and it’s showing.
It’s difficult to adjust and flex to the demands of regularly-programmed life when there is a constant stressor of a pandemic looming over our heads. We notice our zones of tolerance are shrinking, our impulsiveness to cope in unhealthy, yet numbing manners increase, and we teeter on the edge of crippling burnout on the daily. What’s-his-face is screaming at so-and-so, and the blame game is circulating like wildfire.
As a nation, I would diagnose us with Adjustment Disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct. F43.25. Clinical recommendation of consistent therapy is encouraged.
Too bad access to beneficial mental health support and/or care is near to none at the present moment.
In case anyone is wondering what career to choose, we need mental health therapists desperately. The demands for therapy have quadrupled over the past eighteen months. Go figure.
So what do we do? The most exhausted question of the therapy room recently.
We keep going.
Validate the slew of emotions that may wreak havoc on your heart. Cultivate boundaries and build them up high around your own self care and investment in grounding yourself in the present. Recalibrate the universe by small acts of kindness and shared smiles. Recognize the uniqueness of your perspective. Invest in sleep. Take your vitamins.
Don’t undermine the resiliency you muster every single day.
You deserve a sticker.