Trigger warning: discussions of mental health, depression, suicide. Please ensure you are in a safe space before reading.
Well, it seems we are heading full steam ahead into this new year. We are already halfway through January. I recently found out that today specifically is referred to as “Blue Monday”, referencing what is often said to be the most depressing day of the year. Part of me is inclined to agree: the holiday fun is over now, January is often a cold and still pretty dark month (especially for those of us in Canada), and when you add the pandemic on top of that which doesn’t seem to have an end in sight – it can be a pretty depressing combination. As someone who struggles with depression myself, it is important to note that depression can strike at any time and for many of us who face similar struggles, it impacts us every day – not just days like “Blue Monday.” Many folks may also struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, which strikes during the winter months.
Over these winter months, I have definitely noticed my mental health has been impacted much more than usual. I am sure a contributing factor is having lost someone to suicide only a few months ago, but the additional external factors – weather, the pandemic, working from home, etc. – certainly haven’t made this any easier. I am definitely feeling some type of winter blues, but with the added impact of the pandemic, I’m calling it the pandemic blues.
As we have entered this new year, I am realizing that we are getting close to the two-year mark of the pandemic. It is absolutely crazy to me to realize that we have been dealing with the pandemic for two years now! It’s no wonder we may be feeling much lower than usual. Dealing with a crisis like this for such an extended period of time definitely has its impact. As much as I have tried to be hopeful, and hope that we will be out of the woods soon… the longer the pandemic continues, the more my hope diminishes. It can be really challenging to cultivate that sense of hope in these times.
Someone recently said to me that it’s important to not be dismissive of our feelings and truly acknowledge them. It is true that everyone is dealing with the pandemic, and though that may be ‘normal’ these days, normalizing feeling blue during this time can be dangerous. Yes, many of us are going through the same thing and if you are feeling blue, you certainly aren’t alone – but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss your feelings. Furthermore, I don’t think blue feelings during this time should be normalized – even though our circumstance has come to be seen as the ‘new normal’, it really isn’t normal for any of us, and we need to recognize that and extend grace to one another. Expecting each other to function as we would in normal non-pandemic times shouldn’t be an expectation at all. I find it a bit insane that we currently have these expectations of one another. Frankly, after two years of dealing with this, I’m exhausted – and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are too. This exhaustion isn’t normal and shouldn’t be viewed as such. If we are all so exhausted, maybe we need to do things differently. Let’s not dismiss our feelings, and rather acknowledge and sit with them – and perhaps create a better way forward.
I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. I wish I could come up with a list of ways to beat the pandemic blues and fight through this just a little bit more until we’re out the other side. But maybe it’s okay that I can’t make that list. Maybe it’s okay to be struggling right now. Maybe there isn’t a clear way out. As one of my favorite quote says, “the only way out is through.” That’s a quote I’ll be holding close to me during these times. I may not have any revolutionary ideas right now, but one thing I know is of utmost importance is taking care of ourselves. It is necessary to make time for self-care on a physical, mental, and emotional level – everything else can wait.
Sending love to all who may be struggling right now. Acknowledge your feelings, take care of yourselves, and know that you aren’t alone. Hope to see you soon, on the other side of this pandemonium. <3