, 04.06.2020 03:53 PM

Depression, anxiety and the pandemic

The past year was a pretty bad one.

Depression, anxiety, grief, all of that. Wrote about it for Bell Let’s Talk day, here. Have been pretty open about it, too – which is harder for guys to do. (And it’s particularly hard for guys in politics, like me, who aren’t supposed to have feelings and all that bullshit.)

Anyway. I made changes, big ones. I discovered who were the real friends, and who weren’t. I met lots of amazing, beautiful, smart women, and none of them were liars.

I got stronger. I got better.

This essay, which I found on The Daily Beast, said some things that I, too, had been feeling since the pandemic began. Namely: I feel okay. As in, totally okay. Totally prepared.

People have noticed. They’ve reached out to me to talk about their anxieties and fears, and I’ve tried to help them. I have felt enormous gratitude and responsibility that I have been able to do so, too.

This essay is about that, written by a woman who is experiencing the same thing. When the whole world is depressed, it turns out, your own depression doesn’t seem like that big a deal anymore. And, you’ve been given some tools to help others through it.

Snippet below. Full essay here. Read it.

As COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has spread around the globe, many people have found themselves struggling to cope, regardless of their mental health histories. And to be clear, many if not most depression and anxiety patients have seen their symptoms worsen. But a fraction have, paradoxically, actually felt their symptoms alleviate. Like Weinstein, I am one of those people.

It’s not that I’m unaware of the terrible toll the global pandemic is exacting. I’ve cried about it late at night, like I imagine most have. I’ve worried for my grandmother, and boiled with rage as various wealthy blowhards suggested that the best thing she and other elderly people could do for this country is to die. I’m furious at the gross incompetence and indifference to human life within our country’s leadership. I check the news often—too often—staring at my phone in disbelief every night into the early hours of the morning.

And yet, when I wake up, I don’t feel as sluggish as I normally do. I find it easier to get out of bed. The intrusive thoughts that normally buzz around my brain like flies on a feeding frenzy have disappeared. My family is healthy, I tell myself. I am healthy. We are all doing what we can. And for whatever reason, that has been enough. My mood has stabilized after years of oscillating between paralyzing anxiety and debilitating, at times suicidal, depression. Despite everything, I realize, I am OK. More OK than I have been in years.

That’s a strange thing to admit. But evidently I’m not alone.

21 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    I’m happy you have been given the chance to “pay it forward”. Great to hear you are doing ok

  2. Some of us are lucky enough to have the ideal medication combination, along with effective talk-therapy.

    As most of you know, a far greater group have some form of medication that unfortunately, does not fully alleviate emotional problems.

    There but for the grace of God, go I.

  3. Peter says:

    Apparently, incidences of mental health issues like these ones dropped significantly during the Blitz in Britain and why predictions of collapsed public morale in wartime often prove to be wrong. When your focus shifts from dwelling on yourself to worrying about family, friends and community, it seems more worthwhile to get up in the morning.

    This is also a reason why tough, resolute non-partisan leadership can be so important and why so many are inspired by the likes of Ford, Cuomo, the Queen, etc. Cynical partisan hyper-critics who think they see through it all are actually undercutting the collective resolve needed to fight the battle.

  4. David MacLeod says:

    Storms … Many people dislike or are fearful of them. I feel “free” of society’s demands in a storm. A pandemic is a storm, a horridly powerful, dangerous storm, but I am finally calm. I follow the rules and stay at home only leaving the house once a week for groceries. My relationship with my family is better as we have all slowed down … we played board games … my wife now works from home but is more efficient with her work time … we have more time for us … use the storm to find your calm and reclaim family time.

  5. lungta says:

    wild eh?
    driving down the road
    i have no idea where to go
    get me a flat tire
    i know exactly what needs to be done next

    think the impending doom
    might get some boomers to stimulate the economy
    having two strikes agin’m and the third is coming soon

  6. Peter says:

    If somebody else had been president of the United States in December 2019—Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Mike Pence, really almost anybody else—the United States would still have been afflicted by the coronavirus. But it would have been better prepared, and better able to respond.

    How can he possibly know that? What country was prepared in December, 2019? Other than China, what country took appropriate actions before late February or early March? What country was properly stocked with the necessary medical supplies and facilities to respond to a pandemic? Conservative Britain? Leftist Spain? Canada? Where exactly would the public and regional governments have accepted and cooperated with the draconian measures of the past month? How can anyone possibly pronounce confidently on what Hilary Clinton or “almost anyone else” would have done? There is plenty of scope for criticism of what Trump is actually doing and saying today, especially by those prepared to say what should be done instead, but revisionist hypothetical histories like this one are just partisan rants by people who can’t get through their day without a TDS fix.

    • Douglas W says:

      Waiting in the wings: Andrew Cuomo.

      I can envision a July scenario where the Democrats offer him the presidential nominee.

      • The Doctor says:

        Meh. That’s the wishful Tinder approach to politics: I’m sure if you just swipe one more time, the perfect candidate will appear. I’m fine with Cuomo, but he has plenty of warts himself and he’s no Messiah.

      • Douglas,

        I can’t. Democrats have their eyes on the prize. They already have their plate full trying to make sure that the Bernie Bros assholes stay on board this time rather than abandoning Biden like they did Hillary.

        Next comes human nature: you know, the natural political inclination of the “Outs” for sucking up to Joe to get “something” out of his administration. Politically sophisticated Democrats are the “Ins”, most of the rest the “Outs”. That’s the name of the game all the way to the general.

        Maybe Cuomo is now America’s Governor and maybe not. Either way, he’s pretty much first in line next time, should he be so inclined. That’s why his people will keep in line and enthusiastically support Biden.

      • Fred from BC says:

        “Waiting in the wings: Andrew Cuomo.”

        Maybe. But as Doc says, he’s got his own baggage; some people say that his actions on Coronavirus have been worse than Trump’s (about the same as Nancy Pelosi’s).

        “I can envision a July scenario where the Democrats offer him the presidential nominee.”

        They could certainly do that. The optics would be much better if Joe Biden hadn’t vowed to choose a female running mate for VP…the DNC would simply announce that Joe was stepping down “for health reasons” and his VP would automatically move into the top spot; that VP would, of course, have been Andrew Cuomo (already in place). Right now, though, they must be scrambling to figure out what to do. The number of women who could potentially be chosen to run as VP is small enough…now you have to choose one to be President?

        I don’t envy them. No matter what they do, lots of people will be unhappy about it.

    • Peter,

      I would nuance your conclusion by saying that the original statement only holds up if the aforementioned people were actually on the record urging action in late 2019. If not, I agree with you completely.

      • Peter says:

        It’s madness down there. Never have I been so grateful for Canadian stodgy wariness about politics and basic common sense. It’s not just history, everything that is being said and done down there is instantly warped through a prism of partisan loyalty. It’s as if they think the virus intends to vote in November.

        My favourite is the brouhaha about hydroxychloroquine. Professional opinion on it is all over the map and it’s being used with mixed results in lots of countries, but millions of Americans who are vague on what aspirin does and doesn’t do seem to have convinced themselves it’s either a miracle drug or dangerous quackery based entirely on offhand comments and tweets by the Orange Man. Insane.

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:

          I heard today about you know who supposedly having stock in that company but it’s only hearsay so far.

    • Fred from BC says:

      Well reasoned, and well said (as always).

      “but revisionist hypothetical histories like this one are just partisan rants by people who can’t get through their day without a TDS fix.”

      And, I would add, seem irresistibly compelled to post this same off-topic BS no matter what the actual subject under discussion might be (in this case, depression and anxiety). But what can you seriously expect from someone who considers The Guardian to be an unbiased news source?

  7. david says:

    Warren

    “Depression is the collapse of illusion in the face of reality.”
    Wilhelm Reich.

  8. I prefer to be more balanced: no news that the left positively hates Trump’s guts and will move heaven and earth, along with their allies, to destroy him both personally and politically.

    They have that in common with the right when it comes to, I don’t know, Hillary, Biden and anyone else who happens to be a serious political or personal threat to Trump and his Administration.

    In short, they are exactly the same. That’s the REAL DEAL.

  9. And the right also has that particular, peculiar and bizarre obsession with putting women in jail: they are positively schizophrenically fixated on putting Hillary and Pelosi in the slammer.

    • Fred from BC says:

      “And the right also has that particular, peculiar and bizarre obsession with putting women in jail: they are positively schizophrenically fixated on putting Hillary and Pelosi in the slammer.”

      The fact that they are female is just coincidental, since they have no direct counterparts on the Republican side. If the Republicans had women in similarly prominent positions, they would be equally despised by the left.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Fred,

        I would point to Palin but I don’t remember the left rooting to throw her in jail. But I do take your point.

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