What Happened Last Week
Last week – week three of my own self-containment after a global pandemic – was the roughest week I have gone through in a very long time. For those of you who know me, or are familiar with my personal life story, you know this statement is a BIG one. I can confidently say that so far – for the year 2020 – the week of March 30 through April 5, will be a week I speak to at future events under my motto “Honor Your Truths” . . . and please do not give up.
What I personally felt and experienced during this last week was confusion, anxiety, deep sadness, loneliness, and loss of hope. These emotions were overwhelming for me because when I get to “loss of hope,” my mental health is not doing well. I decided this post was an important topic to talk about because I am concerned for many people out there right now, especially those of us who are part of – or connected to – the LGBTQ community.
In the past, the emotions I experienced last week would have led me down a path of still being a high-functioning professional, but one who sometimes internally struggles with deep depression that takes months to get out of. With my professional role as a speaker being placed on pause due to the virus, I’ve had more time to analyze last week and my personal feelings.
I realize now, it’s hard to fully process all the traumatic events and feelings we experience as professionals and individuals in this present world. The ongoing injustices, individual and communal, especially take a great toll on people who work in the fields of abuse, trauma, recovery and marginalized communities. I am recognizing this for the first time because I’ve had the time to actually sit with everything, since I am not being distracted by emails, social media, or ongoing traveling.
Over the weekend, I recognized how my recent feelings that led up to slight loss of hope was different from the past because my first emotion was confusion.
In the past, when I felt “loss of hope,” the first emotion I linked to it was not confusion – it was despair.
The week of March 30 through April 5, 2020, if I had felt despair, then I would have swiftly scheduled a Telehealth appointment with my former mental health provider. Prior to the virus, I had ended ongoing therapy due to reaching what I needed for my own self-actualization. Since, even with the icky feelings and experiences, I still kept both hands, firmly gripped on both rungs of my depression ladder. I then took the weekend as an opportunity to spend a great deal of time thinking about what I should be learning right now.
I did this while deep cleaning my house.
For any of you who have heard me speak, I share a story about how I own five different types of vacuums because you have different floor surfaces that have different cleaning needs. Well, I needed to think a lot this past weekend, and deep cleaning is the best form of medicine for me. So, I brought out four of my five different types of vacuums and floor cleaning products. When I finished the house, I then went outside, where I was meticulous with my landscaping and gardening. I was grateful that Spring is here, and I could still mow my yard. . . in different directions each week because it is “prettier” to some and “looks cooler” to others.
The whole time I cleaned, organized, trimmed, pruned and plucked, I listened to music from 90’s alternative rock bands and just thought about life . . . and what I was presently feeling.
I realized/concluded that prior to the global pandemic, I was finally standing on shored-up and footed ground in my life. It had only been a two-month experience, and had taken me 40 years to get there, but prior to 2020 being canceled, I was finally feeling the self-confidence that I had been learning about and speaking to for the past 20+ years. This virus is so confusing because in my life, I’ve never seen or experienced something so threatening and unknown that impacts ALL of us. This is big, and we are going through these range of emotions and experiences together. During this present state, it is important to feel the full range of your emotions and to reach out to the people you trust, so that you can continue to stay present and feel everything while avoiding numbing out through drugs, alcohol, or technology.
My Approach to This Week and the Future
So – here I am, starting week-four of self-containment on Monday, April 06, 2020. And my new motto to get me through each day, until I can get back out on the road is:
Life is unpredictable and sometimes you just need to stay largely in the present, without distractions from the online world or things out of your personal control.
Now, I am a realist, not an idealist in my approach to educating on human health behaviors. So, I think we all can give ourselves permission to “check-out” for a moment – meaning: binge watch a show, enjoy a little extra of a beverage or food that makes you feel more relaxed (not like you are slipping into a food coma or black out), and scroll through wish lists in shopping carts because money is tight for a lot of us right now.
As a realist, I recognize that we are presently living a life that is part of a consumerism American culture – so the binge-watch, extra food or beverage, or wish lists allows us to unwind and slow down. My hope is that after we perform this moderated-consumerism behavior, we start to get back in touch with ourselves, our bodies and our lives. It is my hope, that the longer this self-containment lasts, the more we will learn about what it is we can presently be doing in our lives to keep us ashore and afoot, while also supporting other people we care about, by focusing on our relationships with one another.
During self-containment, for you personally in your home, apartment, or bedroom – this may include:
- Sitting down to journal or write, reading a book, playing music, or creating art
- Or doing little projects around the house that don’t require much money – just your time: such as organizing, cleaning, fixing a crack in plaster or small hole in the drywall, painting a hallway or room, or hanging up the art that you kept meaning to find a nail and hammer for.
For you and your relationships during self-containment this means sitting down and just talking and listening to people about what you are presently feeling.
If you are in a romantic relationship, this may also include talking about your life together.
- What are memories from the past that make you both smile?
- What are things in the present that you appreciate doing with one another?
- What reminders are popping up during this slow down regarding things you both want to do in present life?
- And when this pandemic and recession ends, what dreams do you have for the future?
For me and my wife, we are presently enjoying walks together, while being mindful of our bodies in relation to other people. We’ve now ordered some seeds and garden boxes to do what we’ve always wanted to – but never had time for – grow our own seasonal food. And we’re figuring out how to compost, while dreaming of the future which includes electric Jeeps that will take us safely up and down the steepest one-way roads in the Western mountain ranges because our vacations are all linked to backpacking and camping while practicing “leave no trace” ethics in the wilderness.
I now recognize that this global pandemic has shut down the trajectory of my life’s future – for a moment. It has done the same for all of you. I realize I needed this slow down, even though it has been so confusing. The more I allow myself to feel all of my emotions (even the ones that are uncomfortable for us to hear, see, or admit) the more I am able to gather all of my thoughts, so that in this present moment I can be a better human being, neighbor, community member, speaker, author, husband, son, brother, nephew, uncle, friend and pet dad.
All of our lives have been going on a hyper-speed technology and money market driven platform that is not sustainable. It is time for us all to learn about the state of our present life, and what we would like to change now and then keep doing in the future, when human life resumes again.
Presently, I am going to promise to feel deeply, honor my truths, and write like I’ve never written before for pleasure and volunteer work.
Your Life is Important
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, lost, lonely or depressed – please reach out to someone you trust, or sit with yourself and allow one of the voices within you to keep saying, “Stay here – we all need to stay here because we are all important, and you are truly loved and needed.”
I tried taking my life twice in my late teens and early twenties. In my 40’s, I am so grateful to be here today, even with all of the pain I’ve experienced. We all truly do need each other’s unique individuality, perspectives and stories to help us become better human beings and people to one another.
Please know you can also call the following hotlines when you feel lost or without hope:
National Suicide Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Trans LifeLine: https://www.translifeline.org/