Everyone knows this is a very difficult time. Pandemic-related anxiety and depression has increased dramatically, as has the use of alcohol, pills and cannabis. People are tired of feeling bad and sad, so they look for escapes where they can find them.
During this time, we’ve also seen an uptick in divorces and breakups. Ending a relationship always starts with some dissatisfaction, some inner pain, and when you are overwhelmed with the events of the world you are living in, it would be normal to question the person you are living with.
You can almost feel the pandemic-related anxiety in the air. I am afraid of COVID, and that same fear is shared by millions of others. That is why so many do not want to go out, and in addition, they are scared and perhaps intimidated by people who do go out.
I fear for those who are alone; the isolation is painful enough without adding the fear of our futures into the mix. If you are by yourself, reach out to a real person and connect by FaceTime or Zoom for just a few minutes. It will do you a world of good. I know we are trying to support each other, and those with families are in the best position because of their built-in support system.
Right now, it’s a mixed-up world, and we will be living with this for at least another year or more. Work cannot get done the way it has in the past, but we are doing the best we can to adapt. Those of us who are still working are grateful. Those with part-time income or other financial support can count themselves lucky as well. But even with these blessings, it’s a challenge to stay upbeat.
The recession in 2008 took out a bunch of local businesses, and I see the same thing happening now, only worse. Over 60% of restaurants have permanently closed. Every day is a struggle for many people on all financial levels, and most everyone is taking a second and third look at their retirement plans if they are fortunate enough to have them.
It is sad, and it is scary; it’s hard to believe that things could get this bad. This disease is ravaging what we were always told was the greatest country on earth, and the rest of the world (sans just a few countries) is suffering right along with us. Fortunately, the vaccines we need to make things better seem to be coming in the near future — and it can’t be soon enough.
We don’t know when the pandemic will end. We will have to learn to live with COVID-19 for a while longer and continue to put our dreams on hold. We have to fight the feeling that this will never end. One day this will be past us, and we will get on with our lives.
In the meantime, we must hold on to our personal values and our common sense. These are our first line of defense against pandemic-related anxiety and depression. We will get through this if we’re smart and take care of ourselves and those around us.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, an award-winning Southern California-based psychotherapist, writer and radio host, writes this column for the Tribune News Service. Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com, read his blog at psychologytoday.com or follow him on Twitter @BartonGoldsmith.