The pandemic has raised the issue of mental health front-and-center once again. It’s become more than obvious that success, wealth, and fame are not enough to protect us from the plague or fill the proverbial “hole in the soul” that fear and uncertainty about the future dredge up.
Despite all the challenges associated with a global pandemic, I have been encouraged to engage with thousands of people through one-on-one coaching and virtual wellness webinars and witness their responses to mental health crises with courage, compassion, and strength.
But still, many myths persist around mental health issues. In American society, we seem to think that if one is strong enough, good-looking enough, wealthy enough, or successful enough, then deep-seated needs somehow vanish away. The truth remains: we cannot buy our way out of physical disease or psycho-emotional distress.
So, we may self-medicate. We engage in behaviors that may be healthy in moderation but very unhealthy in excess.
· We shop online and run up our credit cards.
· We drink too much because “one more can’t hurt”.
· We pop an extra pill to numb the pain.
· We jump from an anonymous sexual partner to the next, craving any sense of connection to satiate our deep sense of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection.
· We lose our sense of time and self, binge-watching Netflix, video gaming, or wasting time scrolling through contentious social media posts on our smartphones.
· We escape into religiosity, certitudes, and magical thinking, fearing the grim reality will betray our misplaced hope that the world indeed is a predictable, stable, benevolent place–even when we know deep down it always isn’t.
· We become a workaholic to avoid the tough relationship issues that we aren’t ready to face.
· We find ways to isolate ourselves and continue working from home because we are too paralyzed with fear to engage the outside world where COVID and variants are still ravaging the unvaccinated.
When the above doesn’t work we attempt to satiate unmet existential angst with any number of other compulsive behaviors. Whether we shop, go for drinks, use a substance, or jump from one hook-up to the next, these measures are not enough to bring the peace and fulfillment we desperately long for.
What do we do when mental health crises hit home?
Now more than ever it is important that we stay connected. If you think a friend or loved one seems unusually down or not acting like their normal selves, don’t wait for them to reach out. Most people who are in the throes of depression or anxiety do not have the wherewithal to advocate for themselves.
Pick up the phone. Call, text, or email. It only takes a moment to say “Hey, you are on my mind, how are you doing?” That check-in lets the other person know they are not alone and most importantly, that they don’t have to go it alone anymore.
Who knows? You might even save a life in the process.
O’Connor Professional Group (OPG) offers a breadth of behavioral health services to address the needs of individuals and families living with addictions, eating disorders, mood and personality disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and other behavioral health conditions. Contact us today.