Corona Virus Plea

I am a skeptic. I rarely believe what I hear from rumors or the media. I need to find out for myself what is true. From the beginning, I was not scared of Covid-19 (A.K.A. Corona virus) because I am healthy, young, and wash my hands regularly. However, after hearing stories from some of my friends, I thought it was important to share their thoughts on quarantines, social distancing, and good hygiene.

One particular friend’s story struck a chord with me. She shared that she has four immediate family members who are at risk of death if they contract corona virus. Her brother is most at risk because he  was hospitalized recently for trouble breathing on his own. She shared her anxieties in trying to get all the necessary supplies to help her family self-isolate until the risk of sickness decreases and her fears that they may not survive if one of them contracts Covid-19.

I will tell the rest of the story in her own words:

As I’m unloading bags from my store trips, my brother is watching the news. We’ve explained the self-quarantine, social distancing, and how Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong have successfully decreased death rates and even the virus in general by practicing these methods. The news goes on, reporting how parents are finding activities for the kids while they’re out of school. The activities are in the community. For example, the butterfly exhibit increased from 40 people a day to 200 today. This is not social distancing, and my brother knows it. He gets angry- he’s legitimately scared he’s going to die and hates the idea of severe pneumonia because he knows what it feels like to not be able to breathe. It sounds like a painful horrible death to him, and I understand why he feels this way. He says, “please, you have to call someone, you have to write letters. I want to live, and I don’t want to stay in the house forever. “We’ll run out of food. “There’s not enough, and I don’t have enough of the things I need to not get sick.” He’s right about it all! I don’t know who to call or write because so many people don’t really understand!

I don’t need to fear. Most of you don’t need to fear, but there are many in the vulnerable category who rightly need to fear and protect themselves. They need our help protecting them. They are relying on us! They are sitting in homes, praying they won’t need to suffer, afraid of not only death, like my brother who wants to do so much more and is not even 30, but also of the pain and suffering as breathing becomes more and more labored. They sit at home hoping something can stop this or at least greatly limit it. They’re doing all they can. I’m doing all I can for them.

I’ve seen posts- let’s pray, let’s fast, and yes, let’s do. But faith without works is dead, prayer without action is asking God to stop us instead of partnering with him. We need not fear. The reason for this is to put our prayer into action and answer the prayers of my brother, of my father and mother, and my sister. The point of this is to answer the prayers of family members like me! We have a real chance to bear one another’s burdens to stand as brothers and sisters in this great human family. It is a unique and wonderful and beautiful opportunity if we choose to take it.

My niece who is quarantined with them said, “I don’t want to stay inside all day. It’s hard.” I said, “Well, if it keeps your Mom, and grandpa and grandma, and Uncle Matt from getting sick will you do it?” Yes, she meekly nods and says, “but for how long?” “How long would you do it if it keeps them dying?” She looks at me with a big smile and adamantly says, “Forever. I’d even stay in here forever if it meant saving someone’s life I didn’t know, but I love them so much longer than forever.” If a 9-year-old can do it, then why not us with all our children? Please hear my brother’s voice because I don’t know who to write to.

Would it have been worth it to you to go to the movie or restaurant or not limit your work outside or demand your employees come to work as even one person dies you don’t know? I believe most of us would be like my niece. I’m counting on this basic human goodness to help my family! So let me explain what social distancing is and looks likes so you can answer the prayers of my family and many others like them at this time:

Limit contact to no more than 50 people at any place, but staying under 20 is better and highly encouraged. Stay six feet away from anyone. If you have any symptoms, stay home and get tested immediately. Have people work from home as much as possible. Schools close. They don’t stay open for breakfast and lunch or childcare purposes for parents. You encourage the whole population to stay at home as much as possible. Employers and governments support parents in staying at home with their kids, working from home as possible, and ensuring people can financially do so while having their needs met. In the long run, the cost to governments and employers is cheaper than if this spreads, and the economy fares much better. No one goes to restaurants, movie theaters, malls etc. You only go out for medical care- if it’s absolutely necessary, for the job you have, and potentially to the grocery store or pharmacy. That’s it.

This isn’t a time to visit neighbors or family living in other homes. You stay in your home, and they stay in theirs. Kids don’t run back and forth between houses. We seriously distance ourselves for a few weeks from everyone possible. We wash hands often, disinfect often, use hand sanitizer, etc. Then at the end of a three-to-four-week period, we begin lifting some, but not all, of these restrictions. The spread is almost eliminated from the community, deaths prevented, and slowly we begin lifting aspects of the social distancing.

Take time to play with your kids. Have conversations. I promise that will be far more bonding and memorable than any movie you watch or place you visit. Let’s focus on relationships! Maybe you’re alone or live with roommates who just pay the rent and you aren’t friends with. Great, still focus on relationships. This is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with our higher power, maybe Karma, or Buddhist tradition, perhaps Allah. For me, it’s God and Jesus Christ. I’m anticipating spending deep reflection on where I’m going and how I’d like to improve. I will reflect on relationships, who I can apologize to or mend things with.

Then I’ll find ways to help others. I’ll find a single mother who needs to go to work and watch her kids during the day so I can support social distancing. I’ll find seniors, who shouldn’t go out, and shop for them. If anyone gets sick, I can cook soup and leave it on their doorstep, so I’m still social distancing. This doesn’t need to be a burden. It can be a beautiful time. A time where, as a community, we truly care for each other and we grow as individuals. We can come out of social isolation better and more whole. The choice is ours.

If there is one thing epidemiologists and the WHO have scientifically proven, it’s simply this- the spread of the disease, the severity of it and the death rates can be controlled by social isolation and distancing. It really is our choice! I truly hope people read this. Sharing things so personal doesn’t come easy to me. I’m typically much more reserved. Most people didn’t know my brother was in a coma, as I didn’t talk about it. But I share this because I kept thinking of my brother’s plea to me, “please write a letter, call someone, help me. I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want to die.” This voice keeps me up tonight. I hope you hear my brother’s plea. Please help him, help my family members!

If you want to see the effects of social distancing and how it can help at this time, please click here to see the virus simulator.

 

A New Person

It has been about a month since I last felt depressed. Realizing that I am not a bad person had a lot to do with that. Most people who know me would probably think it is strange that I would think of myself as a bad person, but it was the one belief that overpowered everything else in my life. It influenced every thought, action, and relationship. It ruled my life for so long that I hardly even recognized its influence because I was so accustomed to thinking that way.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted off me. I feel free. I used to be so scared all the time. I was scared of doing good things because I felt like a bad person so doing something good seemed hypocritical. I was also scared of not doing good things because I did not want to be a bad person. I was scared of getting close to people or making friends because I felt like it was just a matter of time before they found out how terrible I really was.

Looking back, my thoughts seem so strange. They did not make any sense. How could I be a bad person if I did not do anything to be mean or malicious or disrespectful? How could I be so bad if all anyone else saw in me was good? I guess that is how mental illness works though. Your thoughts are not inline with reality. Your thoughts directly contradict reality sometimes, but at the same time, your thoughts are reality. The way you see and think about the world is your reality, even if it is not true from the outside.

Now, I can look at how I used to think and see the flaws. I understand how I came to those beliefs and why I believed I was a bad person, but it is still difficult for me to believe I felt that way for so long. I mean, you would think that I would have noticed earlier. You would think that I would have recognized that these thoughts ruled my life. I guess I did recognize it to some extent, but I did not know how to change it. I would tell myself that my thoughts weren’t true, but I didn’t believe it. I believed my thoughts, not whatever I tried to tell myself.

I am not exactly sure what finally changed my thoughts. I had been going to therapy for a few weeks, and we were working on recognizing mental distortions.  I sat down one night and drew out my life and realized how and why I came to see myself as a bad person. I talked to my friends about it, and briefly to my therapist. Then one day, it was like all the pieces fit together in my mind. I recognized the lie and saw the truth, but, more importantly, I believed the truth.

I have felt like a new person since that time. The world seems brighter, more friendly and happier. I feel at peace with myself and everything around me. It is like clouds of darkness that had been there for years finally dispersed, and I can see the sun again. The strangest (and possibly most wonderful) thing is how I see my past now. I used to see hurt and sorrow and loneliness in my past. There were good times in the midst of that, but my general feeling was that the past was too painful to remember. Now, I see so much hope and light in past experiences. Even in the darkest times, I see the brightness of hope that was just beyond my view back then.

I am the happiest I have ever been! I wake up every day with a newness of life! The world seems wonderful and amazing! I see the beauty in everything! To someone that has been depressed for the majority of my life, it seems like a fairy tale and I am waiting to wake up or climb out of a rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland. But this is real! The feelings are real because I have been freed from beliefs that weren’t real. It is not that I stepped into a better world, but rather that I stepped out of the darkness. I stepped out of a prison cell I did not know I was keeping myself in. Now I have a chance to be free, to find out what the world is really like without distorted lenses. I can’t express how truly excited I am to be alive now! The world is a beautiful place, and I am so excited to experience that beauty for the first time without anything distorting my view!

 

2 Truths and a Lie

Truth- I sat in a class where we talked about substance abuse and drugs and alcohol and tobacco, and for the first time in my life, I thought maybe I should try that.

Truth- I posted on Facebook that I have been struggling with an eating disorder and drowning in depression, posting more and more about suicide because it sounds so good sometimes.

Lie- My friend asked how I was and I said okay, over and over again.

Why is it so hard to say the truth and easy to buy into the lies?

Truths About Depression

Life is so much easier now that I’m not stuck in depression anymore. Which has gotten me thinking about what depression really is and the misconceptions that surround it.

So here are some truths I have learned about depression that I hope others will understand:

  1. You can’t think yourself out of depression. My thought process did not change from when I felt depressed to now. I didn’t just make a decision to see the world in a new light and suddenly have depression disappear. It was easier to think positive thoughts once I didn’t feel depressed, but positive thoughts did not change my state when I was in depression.
  2. I don’t know what got me out of depression. I can’t pinpoint a certain event or a specific activity that ended depression for me. I know that therapy, exercise, proper sleep habits, vitamins and eating healthy foods, time with friends, and perseverance all helped me through that period of depression. But none of those brought me out of it.
  3. Life is harder when you’re depressed. I didn’t have more responsibilities while I was depressed or more demands on me or more stress in my life. Everything just felt harder. All of the normal everyday things that I can do easily now were harder when I was depressed.
  4. I didn’t make myself depressed or control how long it lasted. Although there are some things that can help delay periods of depression, if you have a tendency towards depression or a persistent mental illness, no amount of positive thinking can completely prevent periods of depression. I didn’t choose to be depressed. It just happened.
  5. Getting angry or frustrated or tired of my depression didn’t make it go away any sooner. Sometimes when you’re depressed, people tell you to snap out of it or just stop thinking negatively or that things aren’t as bad as you make them seem. None of these things are helpful or change the situation. Most of us yell at ourselves enough for not feeling positive. Other people yelling at us just prevents us from getting the positive affirmations we need to combat our own negative thoughts about ourselves.
  6. Last but not least, depression doesn’t look the same for everyone. For me depression includes suicidal thoughts, desires for self injury, and an overall mind fog that affects everything I do. For some people it’s more debilitating than that or more physically demanding or a number of other things. Depression is as different as the people who suffer from it.