I know many of you are probably exhausted right now. Physically, mentally and emotionally. This may have been one of the most challenging weeks in your entire career. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most likely in your training you never had a class titled, “How to Deal with a Pandemic”. If you did then I’m going back to school to become a therapist. I think you deserve one hell of a pat on the back. Seriously pat yourself on the back right now, and then keep reading. As a mental health sufferer, who currently sees two therapists weekly, I just want to say a few things to you all:
Thank you for quickly adapting and continuing to serve clients. This week challenged our entire country’s work force (regardless of profession), and continues to do so. I was amazed at the seamless ways in which my own therapists transitioned to exclusive teletherapy, and noticed within the online community the ways in which all therapists were doing the same. Not only were they doing the same, they were supporting each other in the process. They were reaching out to each other and to mental health sufferers that maybe needed support they could no longer find in their own communities anymore. I’ve used teletherapy before, and it’s not my ideal means of receiving therapy. It’s different than in office therapy. It can initially feel awkward and seem impersonal, but it is absolutely better than discontinuing mental health services. Thank you for adapting, and thank you for doing so in a way which often provided limited to no gaps in service to clients.
Thank you for delivering online content, and providing resources to all. There are so many of you out there that work so hard to consistently deliver mental health content that is relevant via various platforms (social media, blogs, podcasts) in order to serve people beyond your own client base. You did not falter with COVID-19. Not one bit. In fact in many ways I think you were ahead of the game. You saw what was coming, you saw how it may impact your clients, and you saw how it may impact the whole human race. You may not have felt prepared or confident in what you were doing, but you delivered. Thank you for dedicating your time always, and especially now, to help the mental health community as a whole.
Thank you for being compassionate, vulnerable, and courageous as you navigate through these uncharted waters with us. Thank you for learning to adapt treatments on the fly. So many of us with OCD or anxiety spend our lives trying to learn how to embrace uncertainty, so when something like this comes up it can feel overwhelming. My OCD brain felt like it got turned upside down and shaken around a bit. This pandemic is real. It’s happening, and I know for me I’ve had a hard time understanding how to navigate it as a human, and even more as a human with OCD. Therapy looks a little different right now. Things that would have been embraced as ERP two weeks ago, are now things that in today’s world no one should engage in. This can be as simple as whether or not to go to work. I think that’s probably a change not just for us clients but for you therapists as well. Thank you for learning as you go, but still being an unwavering support system for us. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable when you don’t have all the answers. If anything that makes you seem more human, more relatable, and more like we are all on the same team. We appreciate your resilience and your willingness to show up to work when maybe you don’t feel quite prepared in knowing how to answer all of your client’s questions.
Thank you for continuing to be a source of normalcy in a very uncertain time. So much has changed in the last week or two, for everyone. For me therapy was still there, and it provided me with a small sense of normalcy I felt I needed. Things may not feel normal for you. Your office may look different. You may be coping with your own family’s needs during this time. You may be worried about your own job. You may feel like you yourself are trying to hold it together through all this uncertainty. Hell, you may be counting down the minutes until you get a chance to be the client instead of the therapist. Know this though: for us that have been going to therapy for a while, that sense of normalcy when we show up to therapy is something we need right now. That safe space opening up for us each week means a lot to us. So thank you for showing up, and helping to make things feel as normal as possible, even if they feel far from normal for you. The person on the other side of the computer screen really appreciates it, even if somedays they forget to thank you.
These are the last few things I’ll say… Thank you for your resilience, and for you dedication to the mental health community as a whole. This is an uncertain time for all, and I think the weight of your jobs can feel heavy sometimes, especially during a time like this. Thank you for showing up, for supporting us, and for helping us navigate our lives each day. Thank you for being vulnerable and human when you know we need it, and pushing us all when you know we are so much more capable than we believe. Your jobs are not easy and your efforts don’t go unnoticed.
I can only hope you all remember to employ the things you teach your clients each day. Take care of yourselves and be honest with yourself about what you need. Step away when you need to. Ask for help if you need it. Lean on your own support system. Go to therapy. Be with your family and friends (social distancing applies). Direct that self-compassion you speak of inward. I’m 100% sure you deserve it. Be mindful of the present moment. Let all the feelings be there, every one of them. Engage in self-care. Remember to laugh. But most importantly, give yourselves some credit. No one taught you how to navigate the mental health world while a pandemic was occurring. Your jobs are challenging right now, and you’re showing up and empowering your clients each and every day. Remember to take care of yourselves. We’re going to need you.
Thank you for being brave, and being a light in a world that currently can feel difficult to navigate. We are all better for it. All of us, mental illness or not.
A Mental Health Sufferer (but more importantly a fellow human)