As long as it takes

After all these months of not writing, I thought I’d do a “what I did over my summer pandemic” post, to get myself going again. I’ve been working with clients virtually and have not had a lot of in person contact. It’s likely to be a long winter, so I have plenty of time to write.

For me, being out in nature is one of the best things for my mental health; first I did what I usually do, went out walking in nature and forest preserves. Then I bought an inexpensive inflatable kayak (easier than trying to get a hard one and a roof rack). Unfortunately it developed a leak, but I then rented boats for several river adventures. So I got to do something I’d wanted to do for a long time.

Below are some photos from these short local trips, all in northern Illinois:

In my inflatable – at Skokie Lagoons
Rock River
Clear water at The Hollows
South Branch Kishwaukee River
Nippersink Creek
Illinois River – Starved Rock

Now, about these strange times we’re living in: what I’m finding, non-scientifically of course, is that most of my clients, as well as family and friends, are adapting to this pandemic situation fairly well. We are learning to get along without certain activities and making do with what we can — people we are able to see, Internet connections, going out for walks or drives, and so on. Even the teenagers and young people I work with are coping, and being young and not being able to socialize much must be more difficult.

What I’m also seeing is that this situation magnifies unresolved issues, depression and/or anxiety for a lot of people. If there are difficult family relationships, they are coming to the forefront. If the person prefers to isolate, they are noticing things about themselves they had not noticed before. If the person feels trapped in their situation, they feel even more trapped. Yet these people have reached out, decided to find someone to talk to, and are looking for ways to cope. Because there is only so much one can do externally to make changes, the coping often has to be internal, and my hope is they will find more strength and internal resources then they knew they had.

It’s interesting how resilient and adaptive humans can be. Most of us survive difficult times, and many of us have been through worse. I do have to admit that I have not personally been affected by anyone who has come down with Covid19 – yet – though I have certainly talked to many people who have experienced illness and loss. In addition to inner resources for coping, the most important thing is to have at least one person who can listen and understand what you are going through. But what adds complexity is that the person has to have the inner motivation to be able to reach out for support in the first place.

Everything changes. This situation will as well, eventually. Many of us are getting better at practicing patience, at waiting for things to change, and hopefully learning to be gentle with ourselves at we wait.

I am now stocking up on books to read for the winter.

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