In March, two friends and I discussed “the losses and ISOLATION regarding COVID.” Subsequently, one of them suggested I write a blog post about it.
One friend said he didn’t understand why people weren’t talking about this. I was initially confused by the observation. I had read many articles, such as this one: The COVID-19 pandemic triggers a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Or this one: The impact of COVID-19 on mental health cannot be made light of. Both of those were from WHO in 2022.
And here’s a piece from September 2020: “We are six months into COVID-19, and it’s already challenging to imagine a world post-COVID-19. It’s hard to believe it’s only been half a year — it feels like so much longer. I struggle to remember concrete details of life before COVID-19, much less relate to the ones I do recall, like going out in public without worrying about proximity to others and masks.”
I think that I underestimated my friend’s need to TALK about feelings. I WROTE about my experiences in this blog recently and a few times before that. But, for the most part, I did not have the opportunity to verbalize those sensations.
Fairly early in the pandemic, in October 2020, after I had finished working the Census, I tried to set up a counseling relationship with a therapist. Of course, it was going to be remote. Everything was remote in that timeframe.
For whatever reasons, some technological and some because we didn’t “click,” I abandoned the effort after three sessions. Perhaps if we had a previous relationship, it would have been more successful.
The most interesting and intense part of the conversation with my two friends involved our children. One friend insisted that he and his wife were most impacted as empty nesters. The other friend and I pushed back, noting that watching our children flounder was at least as painful.
I did not use this analogy then, as it is imperfect, like most analogies. But that COVID time for one friend was like drowning. It was like watching your kids drown for the other friend and me.
The sheer intensity of this discussion helped me realize that we as a country will need a lot more accessible mental health capacity than is likely available in the near term.
I recommend that people speak to someone outside their immediate circle on the phone or ZOOM if not in person. It doesn’t have to be a psychologist. However, it cannot be one of those people – I’ve met them – who say things such as, “Suck it up! The pandemic’s over. Move on!” Those folks are less than useless to talk to.