During this unprecedented and peculiar time of COVID-19 and sheltering-in-place,
I have seen more than a few people talking about settling into this space to
read, meditate, sing, dance and remember how to find sacredness in the simplest
of things. They talk about the world slowing down; humanity healing.
The kinds of practices that the so-called “positivity
movement” suggest may not be helpful to everyone–at least not in the form we typically
find them on Google or YouTube. Many of us need much more careful guidance.
I believe in much of this sentiment. It is important to uplift ourselves and each other during this
difficult time. There is value in
making the most of this unusual moment.
But, and as often happens in life, our obsession with
staying positive–both individually and culturally–means that we do not create
space for the complex, real, raw human experience. We fail to create the space
for people to feel safe in speaking their struggles. This failure has the
potential to silence and shame those who are suffering alone, inside their
homes. This will make them feel that there is something wrong with them because
of their inability to emotionally cope.
I believe we need to stop romanticizing this lockdown,
because, quite simply, it is a mental health crisis in the making. Here are
some things I would like us all to have in our minds during this time, so maybe
we can hold space for both ourselves and each other in a more complete and
First, being safe and secure in your home is a privilege.
Many people in our community are still working to make ends meet and are struggling
to buy food. Some people cannot buy food because by the time their benefits
come in people have stockpiled everything first.
Second, many of us, knowingly or unknowingly, are coping
with childhood trauma. In effective trauma work, the last thing we ever want to
do is unleash a tidal wave of old emotions all at one time. The already
overloaded nervous system cannot handle it. To feel it all at once would be too
And that is exactly what is happening to many people right
Add to this that our health is under threat. Add to this
that some of us are losing loved ones. Add to this that there are clearly other
unknown political agendas at play. Add to this the fact that many people are
under enormous financial pressure. Add to this that many people with children
are now unable to access any personal space at all. Add to this that many
people are unable to get out into nature and are being suffocated by four walls
around the clock.
Many people are going to be feeling agitated, angry, depressed,
anxious, and afraid. Many people will be feeling confused, trapped, and alone.
I want you to know that if you feel these things, regardless
of your history, there is nothing wrong with you and it is not shameful. This
situation is overwhelming. It is traumatic in and of its own right and re-traumatizing
for those of with unhealthy histories.
We will learn much during this time. Some of us will learn
to be quieter or to need less. Many of us will get precious hours with our
loved ones that will be treasured and remembered forever. But most of us will
also suffer. Some will end up in serious emotional crisis because of it. Not
everyone will have access to the help they both need and deserve.
Let us understand that each of our experiences will differ
greatly, and be equally valid. It is okay if you are enjoying your time away
from work. It is okay if you feel completely panicked by your sudden loss of
income. It is okay if you are enjoying singing along to old music whilst spring
cleaning your home. It is okay if you feel all of these things or sit somewhere
in between. It is okay if how you feel seems to swing back and forth from day
to day or even moment to moment.
No one is failing. We are all doing our best.
So let us please hold one another softly in the harsh
reality of this unprecedented moment. Because if we can do that above all else,
humanity really will heal.
The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing is still serving the community in this time of uncertainty. Please feel free to reach out to us via email, Facebook, or phone call if you have any questions.
Melina Brann, Executive Director