The coronavirus pandemic is making everyone crazy. Anxiety is through the roof. Depression is ramping up. Access to treating professionals is limited, just as access to everything is becoming increasingly limited.
The COVID 19 pandemic is the right time for those of us who are skilled at dragging ourselves through difficult days, weeks, and months to help others with our hard-earned wisdom. For me and for many, an important way to keep steady is to make lists and check off what I’ve done.
Crisistextline.org is a relatively new online service in the US that makes it possible for distressed people to seek help via chat, 24/7. Data aggregated from its more than 18,000 conversations per day — more than 141 million messages total since the service opened in August 2013 — also provide a staggering picture of how and when people experience such profound emotional distress that they will make contact with a stranger for support.
For those of us who believe that God and God’s church can be a source of great comfort and support, the data picture is, in itself, a source of emotional distress. It turns out that Sunday, our primary day of community celebration, is a very tough day in the world of crisis counselors. Sunday is the day of the week that the largest number of help-seekers to Crisistextline.org …
This post deals with topics that some may find triggering. If you are currently struggling with the desire to end your life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741 (US). Compassionate people will help you rediscover your possibilities. Hugs and God’s love to you!
As I write, “the winter that wasn’t” has slapped coastal Maine with what we hope is its last dose of ice and hazardous travel. Good Friday’s freezing morning mist coated even sand particles, making my unpaved driveway a slippery, treacherous mess. In the afternoon, a freezing rain frosted the pine needles and slicked roads. By Saturday, it had bent trees and broken branches.
Still, this ice landed on New England streets and yards almost entirely clear of snow after the extraordinarily warm “winter that wasn’t.” A thicket of crocuses is already blooming in my front yard. Budding daffodils are 4 inches high. Tightly furled tulip leaves have begun to push through the soil.
Most of the spring bulbs in this yard were planted more than three decades ago, when I began to create my little legacy in flowers.
Until then, I had spent dark years through my teens and early adulthood. I cried so much of my adolescence that I propped a favorite stuffed toy at one end of my bed and designated that area “my crying corner.” Throughout my days and nights, I heard a voice tell me over and over, “You shit. You schmuck. You fuck up. You fuck everything up. You can’t do anything right.”
A study from a surprising source — The London School of Economics — adds to the evidence that involvement with a faith community is good for you. The four-year study found faith community involvement was better at alleviating depression than:
The study looked at depressed European adults aged 50 and up.
Epidemiologist Dr Mauricio Avendano said it was unclear why religious activity was associated with long-term happiness. Options he suggested included:
Support during periods of illness
A sense of community and belonging
Reduction in social isolation
Activities that were rewarding, vs. political and volunteer work where there might be high effort without clear benefits
Among other interesting study findings: depression in Europe has less to do with the weather (often hypothesized to result in depression in Scandanavia) and more to do with such issues as economic well-being or social relationships/
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide … by Kate Bornstein
… is the subtitle of my so-far favorite book on suicide prevention.
Author Kate Bornstein, a transgender performance artist, has assembled largely from personal experience an entertaining and fundamentally useful collection of “things to do today instead of killing myself.”
Bornstein invests the first 80 pages of the book in gender identity politics, which may or may not interest a particular reader. The remaining 160 pages are a brilliant compendium of 101 things a person could do today instead of dying. Continue reading →