Everything is Normal...

April 22, 2020

 

Years ago, I heard Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder defined in a way that really stuck with me.  I don't recall where it came from, but wherever I read it or saw it, PTSD was defined as a "normal reaction to an abnormal situation".  I think this definition is a great description of what most, if not all, of us are feeling these days.  

 

In many of the conversations I have had over the past month with clients, friends, and family, I've heard a rather wide range of reactions to our current situation.  I've heard some people say that they have been more productive around the house than they normally are, and I've heard others report being far less productive.  I've heard people report mild, moderate, and severe symptoms of anxiety, and others report mild, moderate, and severe symptoms of depression.  I've heard people report difficulty concentrating or staying focused.  I've heard people report they care about certain things more than they used to, and less about other things than they used to.  I've heard people report exercising more, report exercising less, and one who stopped exercising completely after her fitness center closed its doors.  

 

Whatever your reaction is or has been to what's going on around us today, please just know that even if it's negative, it's normal.  If you're more productive and getting more done around the house, that's great.  But if you've been less productive and have been feeling well off your "game", please do not judge yourself for it.  Recognize that you, like the rest of us, are going through the biggest challenge our society and world has faced in our lifetime.  It is beyond big, and there is a lot of fear and anxiety involved.  Think about how much our brain has had to process in the past month!  Here is a great video from writer/comedian Julie Nolke that explains our need to keep things in perspective.  (WARNING:  NOT FOR CHILDREN!)

 

Six weeks ago, life was normal.  And then everything changed, seemingly overnight.  It happened so quickly, and it came with an abrupt harshness.  The impact it had on me at first was huge as I found myself dealing with an almost constant Fight or Flight response over the first few days of our "lock down".  My appetite pretty much shut down completely, and I found myself with mild shakes for about three or four days.  I've never experienced anything like it, and I hope I never do again.  But, I don't judge myself for it, because I went from life being "normal" to worrying about my safety, my wife and my daughter's safety, the safety of my family and friends, whether or not The Well Being and my livelihood will survive, and whether or not our Nation and world will be facing long-term devastating economic consequences.  

 

To me, if a person feels like they are simply "doing OK" during these times, in reality, they are actually doing pretty damn good.  And if a person feels like they are doing "pretty well" during these times, in reality, they are actually doing pretty damn great.  And, if a person feels like they are doing "great" during these times, well...I guess I question that person's sanity.   I don't see how ANYONE could be doing great with all that we are dealing with today.  If there is someone out there who truly is "doing great", please have them give me a call.  I want to know their secret.  

 

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