Hi everyone. It’s me, Rachel, checking in with you from self-isolation.
The platform has published a lot of posts this week regarding the Coronavirus Pandemic which is affecting nearly everyone in the world – and I have a few mixed feelings about that.
For the most part, I want this platform to be a safe place where people can come to be uplifted, encouraged, and entertained. I want people to finish reading something we’ve published and feel a little more hopeful about their lives. And while I think we accomplish that to some level, I also want to add something to those previous statements:
While I want to be uplifting, I don’t want to be full of obnoxious positivity.
So many people are hurting right now, and most of us have no way to help them. This crisis is unique in that instead of coming together, as we might do in another type of issue, we are forced to stay apart from those we love. It is hard to support and feel supported when we have to do that from our own separate homes. Some of us may feel as though the walls are pressing it. Some of us may feel as though this is never going to end, or that if it does end, it will end horribly. Some of us may have stopped feeling altogether.
I’m with you, my friends. This has taken its own unique toll on everyone I talk to. I’m not going to pretend that everything is fine, or that I know what’s going to happen, or that I have any inclination how long it will be until we will be able to congregate again. In fact, these past few weeks have held some of the hardest battles I’ve ever fought.
My mind has always been my greatest asset. It is a powerful machine that conjures up all kinds of ideas. These ideas fuel my writing, which is what brings you this content. It fuels my day. It helps me entertain myself. It helps me solve problems, and to create beauty in an otherwise mundane and boring life. But it is also my greatest enemy, because those same ideas can turn into monsters.
While I love being by myself (as we introverts do), sometimes the easiest way to fight off negative thoughts is by surrounding myself with people that I love. When I feel actively loved by those people, it’s hard for me to believe my brain when it tells me that no one loves me and I am completely alone in my life. I rely on cues from the physical presence of my loved ones in order to reassure myself that yes, I am loved, valued, and wanted.
Take away those people, and I’m left with myself and my thoughts. For a while, this is great – I can recharge! But then those thoughts come back, as they predictably do. However, this time, I don’t know the next time I’ll see my loved ones. I hear them tell me they love me over the phone, but when they hang up, that little voice sneaks back in and tells me otherwise. I’ve been struggling with each and every day to keep that voice silent and to believe that what my loved ones tell me is true, even if I don’t feel it.
There is a powerful lesson here, my friends. It’s something I’ve been writing about for years, but which I never experienced to this degree before. The lesson is this:
It takes courage to believe you are loved, especially if you don’t feel it.
It takes courage, which takes effort. Right now, more than ever, we need to be brave. I don’t mean putting up a brave face – I mean actively being brave.
What does this look like?
For me, it means that I communicate with people about what I’m dealing with. At the risk of feeling clingy, awkward, or unneeded, I tell them when I’m down. I tell them when I need reassurance. I tell them that I’m struggling with these things and I ask for help.
Here’s another thing I do: I let them know that they can talk to me, to. Even though I can’t be there physically for these people, I can be there emotionally. So many people have opened up to me in the past few weeks, in ways they never have before. So many people have reached out, chosen faith over fear, and decided to ask for help.
Many of us are terrified of the future. It’s scary right now: all of us probably know someone (if you aren’t already that someone) who is somehow on the front lines of this issue. Whether they are a healthcare worker, someone who is part of an essential business, or battling the disease itself, it is easy for us to be afraid for them. But this is not what we need to do.
Right now, more than ever, take care of your loved ones by taking care of yourself, mentally and physically. We are in quarantine, most of us, not to protect ourselves, but to protect other people. We are making sacrifices so that our loved ones don’t have to sacrifice even more – but that doesn’t mean we sacrifice our mental health. That doesn’t mean we sacrifice our community with each other.
As I right this, I’m struggling with a bout of depression which has kept me in bed for several days. I’m really over this whole quarantine thing, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m fighting back, and I’m winning.
How am I winning? Well, for one, I’m choosing faith over fear.
I’m choosing courage.
Every time I wake up, I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and I look into the mirror. I say, out loud, these words to the person I see there: You are not going to give up. You are not a quitter. You are going to come out of this better than you went into it. You are going to be victorious.
And on days when depression nails me to my bed, I fight back, by choosing to believe that I am loved.
My dear friends, I know that for some of you, this is the fight of your life. But for the sake of our loved ones, for the sake of those on the front lines, for your own sake, you must not give up. I implore you: do not give up. Do not let this virus win. Even if it never touches you, it can still destroy your mental health. Do not let this happen.
Reach out for help if you need it. Reach out to your loved ones, especially the ones you haven’t heard from in a while. Stay connected. Stay safe.
We here on the platform are cheering for you. You are all in our prayers. Someday soon, we will all meet again, in person – and I hope that when we gather again in real life, no one will be missing.
The Anxious Introvert