Does anyone else feel like we are in a dystopian novel? I’m a fan of the genre, Hunger Games is my guilty pleasure. “Covid 2020” a genius concept, and one, I am sure a few years ago, could have gotten picked up by a publishing house specializing in adolescent fiction. In this plot, a group of mad scientists are running a global experiment to see just how far they can push mankind before it snaps. How much strain can the human brain take?
First, the researchers rapidly evolve technology at a pace faster than people can possibly cope. Through screens, they add to the mix of everyday life, constant pressure, competition, information overload, isolation, loneliness and unattainable desires. The data supports their hypothesis, as the world sinks into a new normal of anxiety, depression and insurmountable stress. It was predictable. They were correct. Suicide rates rise. The definition of hero and role model pivots 180 degrees on its axis. Priorities flip. People turn to both pharmaceutical and illegal drugs to numb the pain. Relationships suffer. Childhood is all but lost. But, not everyone breaks, so the scientists add more.
Enter a pandemic and a hate-filled election. Lives are lost. Jobs are lost. Education is deemed dispensable. People protest. People riot. More lives are lost. “Will this be the tipping point?” They watch from their all-seeing lab and record their observations. Will this be enough to seal the fate of humanity?
Honestly, some days it feels like it might. Our world is unrecognizable. We are all suffering from the fallout of shame, fear, deprivation, mask wearing, and solitude. I’m not sure if I am actually depressed, but there are days it is a distinct possibility. Getting out of bed in the morning is a little harder, motivating myself to work, write or do errands is a bit more of a struggle, and moments of true joy are harder and harder to come by. I am baseline blah, but also baseline anxious, waiting for the other shoe to drop — who the heck knew there could be so many shoes? Is there an Imelda Marcos closet in the dang sky?
But, wait!! As in all great dystopian novels, there is a hero! No, it isn’t Biden or Trump. It isn’t a vaccine. It isn’t a god. It is you. Think this unlikely? It isn’t! How do you think Katniss Everdeen felt when she volunteered as tribute? Probably hopeless and terrified, but then she started a revolution. You can too — maybe just a small one in your own life, but a revolution just the same.
If you are feeling truly hopeless, get help. Talk to someone as soon as possible. Click here for signs of clinical depression. We can all use a little help right now, so even if you don’t fit the bill for diagnosable depression, you might benefit from some professional guidance.
Help others. There is nothing quite as uplifting as volunteerism, charitable giving and simply being a good friend. It gets you out of your own way.
Shower and get dressed. Every day. No matter what.
Know the facts to beat the fear. Of course, this virus is terrible, but don’t let the media terrorize you. Look for the good news in the death rates and in the progression of the vaccine development. Acknowledge your own real risk, and avoid the “What if” toxic way of thinking. Avoid hyperbole. When fear creeps in, take a deep breath and consider the odds.
Get off the screens. Set aside time each day when you put your phone down and just remember how to live.
Make a plan. This will end. Focus on the future! What will you do when life goes back to normal? What are you looking forward to?
Stop judging others. Just stop. Embrace the freedom we enjoy (we used to enjoy more) to form one’s own opinion. Respect those who don’t think like you do.
Do some kind of physical activity each day.
Focus on the things you can control, your health, your attitude and your words and actions.
Be kinder to yourself. Expect some ups and downs, but be proactive in warding off the downs and inspiring the ups.
O.K. So it isn’t Girl on Fire type stuff, but, when practiced consistently, these suggestions will help. It has never been so important to be our own friend and our own hero.