“You are not weak because you have a mental illness; you are a warrior, resilient in the face of havoc being wreaked on your life.” —notalone. nami.org
Not being one to jump on a bandwagon, I hesitated before starting this column mentioning the word on everyone’s lips these days… COVID-19, but I feel I must.
I was handling things fine… and then I went to the grocery store. Darlin’ and I had not been grocery shopping since before the pandemic started. Usually, we do our regular grocery shopping once a month. After all, county employees are only paid once a month, right? This month we were running behind schedule due to the chaos surrounding my stepdad’s death.
I walked into the store and felt like I had been swept into a zombie apocalypse movie. Or a documentary on the post Black Tuesday Great Depression. I didn’t know whether to freak out or to laugh. I couldn’t understand the whys of it all. Some items that were missing and others of which there were plenty confused me. I had expected some of them to be the other way around. I’m sure the other stunned shoppers thought I had lost my mind as I wandered up and down the aisles pushing a mostly empty cart, shaking my head and chuckling to myself.
It wasn’t until I tried to sleep that night that my anxiety reared its ugly head. ‘What ifs’ took over, rambling around in my mind, depriving me of sleep. As the sun crept over the horizon, I stumbled groggily from bed and had a coming-to-Jesus meeting with myself.
Get a grip, I told myself. Calm down. I practiced deep breathing. I practiced visualization. I went for a walk. Then I sat down to write to you. I realized many of you who deal with some of the same issues I do might be freaking out as well. It’s too easy with the world in a panic to succumb to our mental health disorders.
Collectively, together alone as the new hashtag goes, we need to take a deep breath and calm down. We need to stand strong and look out for one another as best we can. If you have a family member or friend that suffers from a disorder, take a minute to call them. Let them know they are not alone.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, step away from it all. Even if you are not feeling overwhelmed yet, it might be a good idea to stop constantly watching, reading or listening to news stories about COVID-19, especially on social media. We all know how social media can blow things out of proportion and share tons of inaccurate information. Hearing about the pandemic constantly increases our stress levels making our disorders harder to deal with.
Continue your treatments. Don’t stop taking your medications. Reach out to your therapist by phone or email. You can still receive help without being in the same physical space.
Take care of yourself. Try to eat healthy. Exercise. Try deep breathing exercises. Meditate. Pray. Try to get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and drugs unless they are your prescribed medications.
Find time to unwind, to do something you enjoy. Take a minute to call a friend or loved one. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you are really feeling. Don’t be afraid to share your fears.
Above all else, don’t panic. Sign up for the Atascosa County mass notification system at www.i-info.com and get realtime updates on the situation. The signup process on the website is simple. Just click where it says, “Looking for i-info registration to sign up? Click here to find your community of interest.” This will take you to the community page. Find Texas and click on “San Antonio – South Central” and follow the instructions from there.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846- 8517)
• Camino Real Community Services – The clinic is located at 1749 Hwy 97 E, Jourdanton, Texas and can be reached during regular business hours at (830) 769-2704. A crisis hotline is available 24/7 at 1 (800) 543-5750.
Things are not nearly as black as the media is painting them. As a community, we can be the light in the darkness.
Until next time, remember to breathe.
GLENDA THOMPSON, is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express and is currently writing an A-Z series on Mental Health. Glenda is not a doctor, therapist, mental health expert or medical professional, therefore, you should not use these columns as medical advice. Glenda resides in Charlotte where she is hard at work on the second novel in a series about Texas Rangers with dark secrets.