COVID-19 Journal Entry- Six Months In.

It’s been hard to sit and write a blog post lately. Not for lack of discussion topics. Murders. Shootings. People still thinking BLM is an anti-Blue life movement. The DNC and then the RNC. Michael Moore’s dire warnings to the Democrats to energize the base. To visit freaking Michigan. If there is one thing I will give to #45 it’s that he doesn’t like to lose and he knows how to energize a crowd (racism and white supremacy will energize a white supremacist crowd to be clear).

We reached 6 million cases. 183,000 deaths. To put that in perspective 618,222 soldiers died in the Civil War. Worcester, MA had a population in 2010 of 181K, estimates today are 183K same with Brownsville, TX. So an entire city has died.

2,977 people died in 9/11. We went to war after 9/11. Because of 2,977 deaths. Where is the war for our 183,000 who have died? Where is the fight for those lives we have lost? Who led the war after 9/11? If you don’t remember let me refresh you- the freaking White House did. It was George Bush at the time. He started a war with Iraq (which yes makes no sense because Iraq wasn’t actually responsible for 9/11…but that’s a different story). Our current white house sits back and makes no statements about 183,000 deaths. No outrage. No grief. But he wishes Ghislaine Maxwell well. So that’s nice. Let’s wish the pedophile well while your citizens are dying.

So many things. The suicide rate hasn’t been counted yet. The most recent data available is from 2018 when it was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Our suicide rate has risen 35% since 2003. I can tell you from working in mental health that suicides are on the rise. People are suffering. The isolation, the fear, the job loss, the evictions, isolating with homophobic and transphobic families…all the things. Any one who was trying to hold on by a thread is losing it with the pandemic.

I don’t feel the desolation of depression but I feel sad. I miss my best friend who lives in Florida who I do not know when I will be able to see her again. I feel sad for my friend here who has to re-vamp her October wedding into something different and not at all what she hoped for. I miss my extended family members who live out of state who we normally see during the Summer. The boys have gone so long without seeing some of our relatives and it blows. I crave a way of life that I’m not sure we will ever have again. Mental health is hard on a good day. Working in it during a pandemic is honestly unlike anything I ever imagined.

I’ve heard of 5 suicides in the last two months- relatives of friends or relatives of my clients. I can tell you that’s more in such a short time span than I have ever heard of before.

Two members of my extended family committed suicide- both significantly pre-pandemic- and I say this only to point out that I know all too well the scars that suicide leaves on families. Every suicide should be added to the pandemic’s death count and every grieving family member should be just as outraged at their death.

I was prioritizing front line workers like nurses and respiratory therapists but now I find myself prioritizing other mental health professionals. I’ve had more and more reach out for help. I am honored to be trusted with their care and also incredibly saddened that our profession is front lines more than any one can understand.

In many cases we are people’s only lifelines and we are struggling to stay afloat ourselves.

We are six months into a pandemic that has impacted our country far more than it needed to. We are six months in and 183k deaths deep. Our suicides won’t be officially counted for another two years. But I promise you they are here and they are rising.

This is why writing a blog post seems daunting. How do I write about our most recent parenting mishap…many of which exist…and can be broken down into one sentence- we are burned out and I reached a low when I fought with my 4 year old because he wanted broccoli but I made chicken nuggets. Yes. You read that right. I eventually sat on the floor and took some deep breaths and realized that what I thought would be a special treat was not what he wanted and why would I argue with him about wanting vegetables? Especially when we actually had broccoli in the fridge and it took me only ten minutes to cut it and steam it and serve it. I admit. Parenting low. He got the broccoli.

Another day was bad and he slammed his brother’s finger in a door. Long story. But at the end of it I went in as he was falling asleep hugged him, told him I loved him and that I know he is a good boy. He started to cry and said, “Even though I slammed his finger in the door?” And I said yes. Because even good boys do bad things sometimes we just have to learn from our mistakes.

On top of the every day stress of pandemic, election nightmare, mental health crisis related to pandemic, hurricane, tornadoes, etc. we are still trying to parent and be married and I’m trying not to dread the coming Winter. When I’m sure we will see a resurgence, I’m sure we will go on lockdown again, and who knows what else. I’m sure 2020 will come up with something fun though.

To anyone struggling please reach out for help. Things appear bleak and feel heavy but there will be an end to the pandemic. The 1918 flu ran the same timeline as COVID. Look it up. It’s actually almost exactly parallel. And by end of 1919 the restrictions and outbreak eased. We are six months in, likely six months to go. Please vote. Please vote for an administration that will lead us out of a pandemic with science. Let those 183,000 lives not have been in vain. The virus does not discriminate. But our current administration does.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255