Mental health is such a loaded term. We all have met “crazy” people. They are the smelly person on the subway, loudly declaring we must repent to Jesus, or the relative that has zero ability to respect boundaries. The mother or father whose anxiety ‘takes over the room’ and so on. Psychological suffering is a daily experience for millions of Americans. Whether it be diagnosed in the DSM-V or just generally agreed that Grandfather is “depressed,” the impact is profound and ripples through the fabric of our communities. We feel this acutely with the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Feelings of confusion, unease, abandonment, anger and loneliness are common. Our fears can rule us to the point of paralysis. Even in ‘well-adjusted’ individuals, getting support, navigating daily interactions and finding meaning in these times is difficult. Without great witnessing and care the undercurrents of death and loss are constantly pulling us. The backlog of emotions and reality of all this threaten our ability to cope. Psychic bandwidth becomes overloaded and the small irritant becomes the trigger for a meltdown. The proverbial straw has truly humbled us camels. I know when I thrash myself awake at 3am with the thought of one particular body in one particular broken refrigerator truck in Brooklyn, it’s time for some gentle intensive care.
Today I meditated. Progressively more frequent 20 minutes breath-counting, witnessing myself with a gentle set of phrases and finally a slight quieting of the ‘feral-monkey-on-crack’ brain. Then a willingness to sanely look at my day. What does self-care look like? Not the insane 40-item to-do list that I then shame myself for not accomplishing. Nope. The what qigong exercise is appropriate moment? A clear sky and a jump-rope are my companions. Not to mention the grateful dogs. No news, or Facebook or frantic research trying to order my Universe. Let things fall apart. As Aron Wright sings, “so we saved a few things that were spared.” My own personal Build it Better. Pet the cat, go to a disconnected Zoom meeting, get a witness and give my self a physical ‘atta-boy.’ As one of my Programs talks about… Taking custody of that part of me that needs holding and kindness. The part of me that feels every death like the first one. So today I won’t try to figure it out. I won’t put one foot on yesterday and one on tomorrow. I’ll breath deep, cry, pray and be of Service. To all, especially me.