What if we don’t return to normal? Everyone expects that once we have effective therapies or an approved, safe vaccine we’ll get back to the way things were.
However, the shutdown we’ve experienced and for many of us continues to drag on may have accelerated things that were going to change anyway. Things like remote work, telehealth, teletherapy, more shopping from home, retail store closures and permanent job losses were inevitable. We just have the changes and their consequences sooner than anyone expected.
The key here is that we’re going to have to adapt and we’ll likely have to adjust our expectations. Especially in mental health.
A person with a mental illness has the distinct advantage of the knowledge of self and their world as indeterminate and ever-changing. From this place, with practice and attention, they can transcend these changes and live fully and successfully despite the disruptions of mind and society.
For those of us with severe mental illness disruptions to life like the ones experienced by so many in 2020 are old hat. We’ve been through uncertainty before. We can bring unique coping skills this crisis. We have the knowledge that it is pointless and damaging to sit and expect things to return to normal.
For most of human history, and for billions of people in the world in recent history, life-shattering health and economic crises have frequently and permanently changed lives. That this disruption has come to us after a long period of stability is no surprise. It was really just a matter of time.
What we must avoid is resigning ourselves to the expectation that our inability to immediately stem this crisis will result in an equivalent crisis in mental health. We can avoid that by giving each other support and promoting interventions.
We must prepare for things to get worse just as we work toward things getting better for ourselves, our families and our communities. More than ever we must adhere to treatment, make good lifestyle choices and practice therapies like meditation, movement and meaningful work, especially work in any positive, productive form, in order to be present, vital and healthy.
We all have personal stories of how the enormous obstacles thrown at us this year have changed us. I’ve had the unique ability, through this blog, to present stories of these changes and ways people are coping, failing and getting better. But now that is changing, too.
There will be no new content on the blogs on Psych Central after this week. I’ve been writing “Getting Older With Bipolar” for a few years and will so miss this window onto the world of mental health. So I’ve decided not to stop.
It’s not hard to find me.
I have another site, Practicing Mental Illness, which has content on bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. On the home page you’ll find a blog and an email button. Please sign up so we can stay connected. There’s also a new site for “Getting Older With Bipolar.” I’ll have a weekly newsletter so I can send you compelling content.
Please stay in touch. I’ll try to keep posting interesting information.
We with bipolar disorder or any major mental illness know that normal doesn’t really exist. We’re aware that life is full of the unexpected and that just when all is going well anything from the biochemistry in our brain to a worldwide pandemic can knock us down hard.
I hope we’ll be able to face these changes together as we each seek to find footing as the world changes. Please look for me. Just link to Practicing Mental Illness either on my own site or on Facebook. We’re in this together. Let’s stay a part of each other’s lives.