How often does truly life-altering opportunity knock? Hmmm, rarely. But the COVID-19 pandemic has presented such a moment for those enduring a mood or anxiety disorder. The only question is, will we open the door?
That’s right, the social-distancing lockdowns have taken away so many of the external and internal diversions we’ve traditionally turned to for pain-relief…
Obviously I gave it a go this time. However, I really aim to keep it in the background – unless something radically changes. I mean, COVID-19 is going to hum along, as will our mood and anxiety disorders. I’d rather focus on the latter.
Wishing for the Breakthrough Moment
Anyone who’s dealt with a mood or anxiety disorder for any length of time will tell you they wish for a breakthrough moment. It’s been referred to as the eureka effect or an Aha! moment. Suddenly a breakthrough in insight occurs and the stars just seem to line-up on what was an incomprehensible problem.
In our case, one would assume that when the insight hits home, the problem is on the way out the door. And I believe there’s a lot of truth to that.
That said, on we go wishing – praying, pleading – for that breakthrough moment. Who wouldn’t? Some hope it’ll just evolve and come forth out of nowhere. Others believe it’s more likely to present as a result of a traumatic experience, especially something that delivers a good bit of emotional, mental, and/or physical pain.
Could well be a coin-toss, but I lean toward a magnitude of insight coming from a traumatic experience. But even then, is the setting just right and is the experience traumatic enough?
The COVID-19 Opportunity Is Knocking
There’s no doubt in my mind that our COVID-19 setting and trauma level are more than sufficient to generate a breakthrough moment for anyone wrestling with a mood or anxiety disorder.
As I said in our last article, Coronavirus: Something to Chew on If You Have a Mood or Anxiety Disorder…
“My guess is you’re pretty spooked by what’s going-on. Geez, the changes, lack of order, uncertainty, interruption of freedom, desertedness, helplessness, and hopelessness. And let’s not forget the mortality factor.”
Yep, I’d say we find ourselves within the right context and opportunity is definitely knocking. Changes, lack of order, uncertainty, etc.: any of the them is enough to trigger us to the max. And, of course, that can bring on the lowest and sky-highest of moods, as well as soaring anxiety.
But do you want to know what the greatest current contributor to our opportunity is? Lack of diversion.
That’s right, the social-distancing lockdowns have taken away so many of the external and internal diversions we’ve traditionally turned to for pain-relief (in lieu of working through our problems). Name ’em: work, gym, restaurants, bars, stores, malls, social events, sports. For instance, the cancellation of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments punched me right in the gut.
Here’s the bottom-line: we’ve been left to cope with the world stripped-raw naked and all by ourselves. But as painful as that is, always keep in mind it’s that kind of misery magnitude that brings breakthrough moments.
So take heart.
Will You Open the Door?
Opportunity – the potential breakthrough moment – is all well and good. But it’s kind of just blowing in the wind unless we open the door and do something with it.
For mood and anxiety disorder sufferers, the first order of business is jotting-down troubling thoughts and feelings as they pass through our mind and body. We may think they pertain exclusively to COVID-19, but I say we’re recording the disruptive themes and emotions that imprison us day-in and day-out.
Let me give you an example. With social-distancing and all the stay at home mandates, you may be experiencing deep feelings of emptiness and loneliness – maybe even abandonment. Don’t make the mistake of believing it’s all about the pandemic. That may be what’s triggered the feelings, but my money says they were there long before.
Okay, once we get a solid grip on what we’re putting ourselves through, the decision has to be made that there’s no running and hiding. It would be so tempting to find creative new diversions, but we can’t. I mean, to the extreme, what are we going to do, stay under the covers for a couple of months?
Finally, it’s on to taking the emotional and mental hits one-by-one and developing and practicing unique coping strategies and techniques. All the while we have to deeply believe that this go-round is significantly different, given the setting and trauma factor.
Yes, this time we have every reason to expect a breakthrough moment.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to experience and survive this historic pandemic for nothing. Sure, not falling ill is something, but it’s more than that.
I want to use the COVID-19 pandemic – the trauma – to grow and become the best me.
Don’t you think that’s something to fight for? Yepper, opportunity is for sure knocking. Will you open the door?
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