My favorite part of doing EMDR Therapy with clients is empowering them to recognize that their traumatic experiences do not define them. They are so much more than their trauma, their symptoms, or their diagnosis label. And usually, we explore together what life events left those emotional wounds and what part of them needs healing and support. But lately, these emotional injuries burn harder than maybe ever, due to the ongoing stress of the current global crisis. Recently I’ve seen some of my clients experiencing physical reactions for the first time in their lives without realizing that it is caused by the stress of current events.
It’s been nine months since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the United States and caused losses on many different levels. While it’s necessary to educate the population on preventive measures and other health benefits, we don’t invest enough attention into validating the loss and grief that we experience on the collective level. This year will be remembered for the experiences of racial and social injustice, natural disasters, economic struggles, political disturbances, a loss of normalcy- all these on a global level. Some people may have experienced grief specific to their individual life- some lost their loved ones, some lost their jobs, some witnessed or survived car accidents, some had to fight fires and protect their homes, some heard a sentence of a debilitating diagnosis, and a plethora of other daily unfair and unexpected reasons to grieve.
The times filled with grief require a lot of energy and effort when resources are already depleted. Thoughts of conspiracy theories, retrograded Mercury, “a logical consequence of human ignorance” and other attempts to understand what is going on, are not that helpful when these events are completely out of our control and for most of us, beyond our prepotent level of comprehension. However, let’s not underestimate the power of some of our most accessible tools to survive and manage these mental and emotional challenges. Permission to practice self-compassion and self-care is needed, yet for most of us, neglected more than ever.
I invite you to check in with yourself. What are the needs that you can meet for yourself right here and right now? What is in your power to change today? Even if it’s just a broken lightbulb or a pair of socks, your life can be brighter, and as a matter of fact, fresher! As grief stems from love, how about treating yourself with more love? Whether we are going to treat ourselves with the harshest judgment or a gentle and nurturing kindness is absolutely our personal privilege to choose. Move and nurture your body. Be patient with yourself when you are confused, slow, or in pain. Compliment yourself and your ability to adapt to these forced changes. Connect with others through compassion and reward yourself with healing self-compassion. Pray. Journal. Meditate. Breathe. Seek support. You don’t have to go through this alone. Give yourself permission to contact a psychotherapist that you may have been postponing. This is a year where there is no place for stigma, shame, and prejudices about mental health and seeking professional support.