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Life in the Time of Covid

Wake up. Remember reality. Go back to bed.

This is how I, and I’m sure at some point you, have felt since March of 2020.

Now, let’s forget for a second that Covid-19 is a virus.

Let’s make it real, let us give this monster a name, an identity.

Basically, the Monster, previously named Covid-19, showed up one day, risked murdering the majority of our population, ceased to leave us alone, and has morphed into a million little personalities; not anti-social ones either.

The Monster has changed everything, forever. I’m not sure if we will be coming back to what we knew before. Many people are outraged, many are scared, and many are neutral. There is no one ‘ right’ answer to this Monster mess and we know it. I have no idea what we should do to protect those we love or how to make sure we are spending valuable time with loved ones and not spend it isolating. The Monster feeds off instability and we have that here.

Okay. It’s time for some radical acceptance. We are at where we are at. People will hate wearing masks, and others will not mind at all. People will resist vaccines, and people will get vaccines.

What we can do is be curious with ourselves.

Why does their behavior weigh so heavily on my mind?

Why do I care what the ‘other side’ is doing with their lives?

Yes, it’s valid to be angry with people that don’t agree with you.

No, its unessecary to consistently gripe with them.

My main point to this, is to live your life focusing on what you can do to change your life and the life around you.

This whole Monster virus is about love. It takes away what we love – family, businesses, friends, freedom, etc.

We have no idea when our time is up here, and when we are on our death beds, the last thing we want to be thinking of, is how much time we spent, on battling those who disagreed.

Lets try to love more, instead.

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i’ve always been someone who hangs onto perishable people, far past our expiration date.

The little girl that still lives inside of me, who is a part of me, is always in the background of my mind, reminding me that people cannot be trusted, and people will eventually leave.

This little girl is restless and relentless, she paces through my mind, tripping over every legitimate thought that flows on around her.

For years, I have been trying to quiet her through a variety of tactics.

Weed numbs her out the best, while alcohol comes in second.

I have taken away the latter from myself, and this little girl is now sneaking around and peeking around corners.

With the threat of shedding the rest of these tactics, her voice becomes louder.

“Take care of me.”

That’s all this poor little girl wants.

That is all she speaks.

How can I care for this part of me, who attaches herself to everyone I meet?

She consistently plants the seed that I will be neglected and abandoned, again.

This thinking worked for me then, when I was her age.

Now, her thinking is no longer serving me.

She is no longer serving me.

It becomes instantly clear.

We must live together, combine forces and coping skills, share stories and memories, and become friends with one another, in order to survive this life.

Now, the challenge will be fighting my fears, and meeting with that little girl, so eager to speak, so eager to connect.

Wish us luck.

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The Smoking Woman

the last time i saw you

was years before you died

that big smirk, hazel eyes

wrinkled face, aged and wise

leaving your home, i reverse to see

the door ajar, peeking out at me

the smoking woman seeming carefree

dog in hand, both of you, short and gutsy

i wave goodbye, ‘i love you’ with glee

knowing one day i will miss this reality

the last time i saw her

almost two years has passed

my personal doomsday

an emotional bomb blast

i have no choice, i look at that day

as the other side gently making way

for the gutsy smoking woman

April 23rd, feast day

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Surfing the Wave

You don’t choose to be depressed.

In the time of ‘be positive!’, it can be difficult to validate our own feelings about our mental state.

In reality, it’s okay to feel however you feel. If you are feeling sad, happy, lonely, horny, or rageful, those feelings are coming from somewhere; they are valid.

What we do with those feelings shows where we are; how long the kettle can boil without exploding.

We really need to choose better ways to cope, better ways to communicate, and better ways to surf the waves.

Let’s be kind to ourselves. We deserve to feel these emotions, good and bad. That is the complexity of this weird life; we love, we hurt, then we learn.

So today, instead of choosing positivity, choose to cope.

Choose to surf the waves.

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5 Ways To Cope With Trauma Symptoms

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing has always helped me calm and center myself. When I first started singing lessons in middle school, my music teacher always told me to breathe into the diaphragm, into my belly, and my voice would radiate better. She was right.

Now, I use breathing as a calming tool. I particularly like tactical breathing (4 square breathing)!

Breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should fall.

Self Soothing

I am consistently self soothing. Whether it’s fidgeting with something, taking a shower, or sipping a hot drink, these activities help ground me into the present moment.

These coping strategies focus on improving your mood and reducing anxiety and are sometimes described as self soothing or self-care coping strategies.

Social Support

As the years go on my social anxiety has gotten worse, especially during Covid! When I do spend time with people who are caring and understanding of my mental health, I feel refreshed and connected! It’s a great feeling.

Research has found that finding support from others can be a major factor in helping people overcome the negative effects of a traumatic event and PTSD.

Mindfulness

Ahhhh mindfulness. The one thing I am terrified of is the one thing that will ultimately help in my healing process! Mindfulness heals.

Mindfulness is about being in touch with and aware of the present moment.

Expressive Writing

Clearly, writing is an expressive tool in my life. Writing emotions down is easier for me than speaking them.

In PTSD in particular, expressive writing has been found to have a number of benefits, including improved coping, post-traumatic growth (the ability to find meaning in and have positive life changes following a traumatic event), and reduced PTSD symptoms, tension, and anger.

Reference

Tull (2020) https://www.verywellmind.com/ways-of-coping-with-anxiety-2797619

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How Mindfulness Can Help Trauma Survivors

Being a trauma survivor myself, mindfulness has always been integrated into my treatment.

Recently I was enrolled into a mindfulness based CBT group where I’ve met like minded people who are struggling with trauma and struggling staying present.

So, what is trauma and why is mindfulness so important in regards to it?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event.

Ultimately, any event might be considered traumatic if you have experienced and/or witnessed a threat to your life, your body, your moral integrity, or had a close encounter with violence or death.

So why would a trauma survivor want to be mindful when flashbacks may be running their daily lives?

There is an immense amount of data that supports mindfulness as a treatment for people diagnosed with PTSD.

In brains of people with PTSD, deregulation occurs in the area of the brain that is associated with emotional regulation and memory. In the brain, the amygdala represents a core fear system in the human body, which is involved in the expression of conditioned fear. When an person is suffering with PTSD, the amygdala becomes over activated.

Mindfulness meditation is correlated increase in gray matter in the hippocampus, a decrease of gray matter in the amygdala, and neuroimaging studies have found that mindfulness meditation also helps to activate the pre-frontal cortex.

Mindfulness can help people train themselves to get unstuck from a vicious cycle of negative thinking, often a cornerstone of trauma.

Reference

Wolkin, J., PhD, B. G. B., Pratt, M., Whitney-Coulter, A., Naidoo, U., Smookler, E., Staff, M., & Kira M. Newman and Janet Ho. (2018, June 8). The science of trauma, mindfulness, and PTSD. Mindful. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.mindful.org/the-science-of-trauma-mindfulness-ptsd/.