By Cory Cavazos
The news on coronavirus has been overwhelming. With so much uncertainty, this global tragedy seems endless, and we are being thrown into a strange quarantined solidarity. All of a sudden millions of us have been forced to box up in apartments, homes, hospitals, and shelters. It is easy to feel afraid, stressed out, overwhelmed, and depressed.
I have struggled with mental illness most of my life. I have stared into the abyss, left only with my thoughts, white padded rooms, and locked doors. Mentally, I have faced a seemingly eternal darkness, where day turned to night and night turned to day all while I lay in sorrow. But I overcame. I grew. I found purpose in my life.
This journey began as I learned to accept love from others and myself. The last five years I have been on a road towards recovery. I will never be cured from my illnesses, but I have created a life that embraces community and where I can accept myself.
Through the tragedy of coronavirus, I have seen some pretty incredible things. Artists are innovating and expressing unprecedented creativity. People are coming together online, frequently talking with loved ones, and making deep and meaningful connections. People are addressing their physical health and being intentional about protecting their immune system. It is amazing what we can do in the face of disaster.
For many of us, not all of our coping mechanisms can feel so healthy. Often we quantify our success on our accomplishments. There is a subconscious pressure “to do.” Have I practiced today? Have I gotten outside or exercised? Have I accomplished my goals for the day? Have I been productive in my work? If we fail to accomplish these tasks, we can easily become susceptible to self-doubt and a perpetual cycle of not meeting expectations. This can be very damaging to mental health.
In times like these, it is especially important to know it is okay to process grief in your own way. It is okay not to be busy all the time. We should not feel guilty for failing in these unspoken expectations. When we learn to let go of self-doubt we can learn to take steps towards recovery. With the abundance of information out there, we have a pretty good sense of what is good for us. But knowledge doesn’t always translate to action. Give yourself room to learn and to gain an understanding of what is good for YOU.
I wouldn’t be here today if I let my guilt or self-doubt define who I am. I encourage you to reach out if you are struggling and if you need time to process on your own, that is okay too. Please don’t let the darkness overcome and know you are not alone.