That seems to be the mantra many of us are adopting as the year that is 2020 continues to mess with the delicate balances we had carved out to keep ourselves sane.
But we’re not “fine.” All of us are tackling new challenges, and it’s hard.
Teachers are pulling double duty, teaching in class and online.
Parents are trying to balance work and helping kids with school, sometimes while they’re working from home.
Workers at businesses that had to downsize during the pandemic are finding their workloads upsized.
If your business has sent you home to work during the pandemic, you’re stressing about carving out a workspace in your home. And you’re also stressing about all the ways your managers are keeping tabs on you. Some have hours long online meetings to keep everyone engaged with each other. Others have installed tracking software to make sure you’re doing your work.
If you’re still working in an office or other brick and mortar business, you’re navigating all new safety precautions. Sometimes, you’re having to enforce rules people don’t like — like telling folks the store requires wearing masks when some people don’t want to wear masks. And then — boom! — you’re the bad guy! All for doing your job.
If you have to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, you worry about getting sick. You worry about your job. You worry about who you may have exposed, as well.
If you’ve lost your job during this time, you’re worried about money and how to afford your bills. If your job had provided your health insurance, you’re probably also very concerned about getting sick, since you’re now uninsured.
And all that’s on top of the stress that accompanies a national election season, the upcoming holidays, the usual ordeals of stretching to get everything done and dealing with mental health issues that predate the pandemic.
It’s a lot.
And if you find it overwhelming, you are not alone.
The Centers for Disease Control has been conducting a weekly survey since April to monitor changes in mental health. Before the pandemic disrupted our lives, about 6.6% of people in the United States had symptoms of depression. At the end of August, that had risen to 24.5%. And in Tennessee, 28.3% of residents surveyed reported symptoms of depression.
Symptoms of depression can include fatigue, pessimism and hopelessness, insomnia or changes in sleeping patterns, irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, overeating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness or helplessness, or trouble concentrating or making decisions. Some people experience persistent anxious, sad or “empty” feelings.
It can cause physical symptoms, too, like aches and pains and headaches or digestive problems that don’t go away.
Others may even be having suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Everyone — you do not have to go through this alone. There is help available.
Marie Williams, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and a licensed clinical social worker, wants you to know that it’s OK if you don’t feel like everything is “fine.” And that help is available.
“There are a lot of people out there, dealing with stress, anxiety, fear and depression, who are hurting right now,” she told the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. “We want people to know that it’s OK to not feel OK right now.”
If you need help — no matter your age or where you live — call the state’s helpline: 855-274-7471. Or text TN to 741-741. Help is available 24 hours a day, every day.
Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System provides mental health services to Cumberland County. Call them at 800-704-2651.
You don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out. Talk to someone. Get the help you need right now.
And remember, everyone you encounter is fighting their own private battles — whether it be stress, fear, anxiety, substance abuse, unhappy home situations, financial struggles.
It doesn’t matter how upbeat a person is or how happy their Facebook and Instagram profiles may seem. Everyone is struggling.
Extend folks the grace you know you need every chance you get. Offer a shoulder to lean on if a friend reaches out. Sometimes someone just needs to get out what they’re feeling. Sometimes they may need more help than you feel qualified to provide. In that case, remember the numbers above and help your friend by connecting them to help.