So, Covid-19? Is it an unmitigated human catastrophe?
Whoever you are or whatever your circumstances, however bad or easy you have had it, Covid-19 has ‘dealt you a hand’
Does the answer to that question depend on who you are and your perspective? What is important to you? The elderly? The economy? Your personal circumstances? Do you or a loved one need to shield because of vulnerability? Have you lost your home job or business? Are you a front-line health care worker, exhausted and traumatised by what you have seen, facing catching the virus yourself or infecting your loved ones? Are you sick and need treatment and operations to make life bearable or prolong life? Is the isolation making you feel suicidal? Is the anxiety around catching COVID-19 or your finances constantly nagging at you and making life feel horrible?
Hearing so much suffering in my clients lives, all connected to something I’m currently experiencing myself, has opened a new window on suffering – those who have never considered they need the help of a therapist are reaching out and those who had problems before are experiencing whole new levels of emotional pain. Ive also heard some express guilt, as this season has been enjoyed with more family time and space to consider life and what is important. Some have been exhausted as they are working as hard as ever and their business has actually benefitted from Covid…. Is that even acceptable to say out loud?
Whoever you are or whatever your circumstances, however bad or easy you have had it, Covid-19 has ‘dealt you a hand’…. forgive the game of cards analogy. The thing now is to be mindful that you have some control about how you manage that hand- do you get what looks like a terrible hand and throw in the towel at the first glance? Or do you stay in the game and work it through?
To use another analogy if this season feels like you are being swept along by a mighty river with rapids… don’t just experience being thrown about by the water, fearing you will drown …. let a part of you notice that you are in a river, as if watching yourself in the river from the safety of the bank – see what you can make of your experience from that vantage point.
From the bank you will see that the rapids you are now in, do not endure for the whole length of the river – from the bank you may notice others in the water or something to hold on to.
Victor Fankl – Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist, neurologist suggested that people are free to take their own stance to their own internal experiences and their external conditions. His ideas are not born from theory but in the harsh reality of concentration camps - where he noted that he had a ‘last freedom’ that couldn’t be taken from him by the guards - his last freedom was the meaning he gave to what he endured. He stayed in the game; he was mindful of the river with the perspective afforded by also being on the bank.
I would urge you, whatever this year has brought to your life; keep aware that you have a freedom to make your own meaning of it.