Turns Out Winter 2021 Hasn’t Run Out of Stressors to Throw at You Yet…
People like you have been finding ways to adapt and endure this historical and very strange year. Never think that major factors in society, and in science, and in government, have no effect on you and your personal life. In fact, the ongoing onslaught of external pressures can take a serious toll. In fact, the toll can be so subtle you don’t realize it’s happening. If you find yourself sinking into what feels like quick sand, stop and take action. You don’t have to go down for the count. Stressors you can’t control don’t have to control you or even hurt you. But without intervention, you may find it all gets to be too much.
Take Janeen and Carole, for example:
Janeen and Carole were neighbors and had been friends for years. They enjoyed shopping together, stopping for coffee and pastries, or splurging on Italian food at their favorite white cloth restaurant. They were both upbeat single empty nesters and reveled in their freedom once their grown children built lives of their own.
Carole was the more practical of the two, and Janeen was the more spontaneous, but oh, they had such fun together.
As the pandemic emerged, and as surprising as it was, they didn’t expect it to have that much of an impact on their lives because they were both already so content doing things at home — together or individually. And they did, whether it was a craft project, or constructing a puzzle, or playing cards.
However, with the spread of the pandemic, they each knew more and more people who became ill from it. Of course, Janeen and Carole were diligent with all the precautions including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. Still, they knew someone who was critically ill with the coronavirus, and while she survived, it was pretty scary.
Then Janeen learned that a life long friend of her family had died in the hospital from COVID.
Three weeks later, the brother of her co-worker also died. Both losses hit her hard. Then a cousin also died. Of course, they were reading about someone well-known who also died every day or two. The losses of dear people in this pandemic were unexpected and heartbreaking.
You know that feeling when something so alarming happens that you hear about it in the news…but you never think it will happen to anyone you know..? Exactly. The alarming aspects of this disaster were getting too close to home for these friends. And in spite of the upbeat friendship Janeen and Carole shared, they discovered stressors you can’t control weren’t as easy to push aside when they plunder your personal life and those you hold dear.
That Last Straw that Can Break a Camel’s Back…
Finally, Carole’s sister Greta called and the tone of the conversation turned sour, then bitter…until her sister attacked her utterly unexpectedly. She attacked her political beliefs, her faith, and her family. By the time Carole ended the call, she was shocked and deeply wounded. Devastated. She felt betrayed at the deepest level. Carole trusted her sister. She respected her opinions and felt support from her so fundamentally, that she had always been confident they would never treat each other with disrespect.
Carole told herself her sister was just having a bad day. Or maybe the stressors of everything happening were wearing down Greta, too..? At any rate, Carole felt silly that she was so hurt by the things her sister said. She’d never been one to be so touchy with her family, to have her feelings on her cuff.
But… for Carole, it was as if the clouds had covered the sun. The shades on her life had been drawn. And the light that had normally shone on her days disappeared. Carole didn’t understand what was happening to her. But the color in life had turned shades of gray.
There was no reason to take her sister’s verbal assault so personally. But still, her outlook deteriorated. She couldn’t seem to help it.
She read on the internet that depression seemed to be on the rise with COVID…and she wondered if that was happening to her for some inexplicable reason. It was as if she had lost her zest for life. As the days and weeks passed, she realized she didn’t really care what her sister did…or what Janeen did. She felt so deflated she didn’t want to get out of bed.
So she didn’t.
Carole’s highly energized and determined personality went limp. Sad. Empty.
As days, weeks, and months passed, Carole knew she had become withdrawn. But she didn’t care. Nothing seemed to matter.
Eventually, she realized she didn’t see any reason to keep living. Her children were living their own lives now, and she was no longer needed. She thought sometimes about how the end of life would come for her. Would she just not wake up one day?
Or develop a catastrophic disease? Then she realized she didn’t really have to wait…
So she wondered how hard it would be to just put a STOP to her life. To be released from the phenomenal stress she’d lived with.
The more those thoughts built in her mind, the more reasonable they sounded to her.
Janeen checked on her regularly, but Carole tried to end those contacts quickly. She just didn’t want to talk, visit, or exert any energy at all. She wished she could just sort of fade away.
Above all, though, she knew she didn’t want to do anything that caused her family pain… Still, she continued to think about it…
Another Perspective on Stress
We talk about stress. How it can defeat otherwise unsinkable people. How it can reduce immunity and how it can contribute to disorders like depression, panic disorder, PTSD, alcohol use disorder, bipolar depression, social anxiety disorder, and suicidal thoughts. Stressors you can’t control are so much more difficult than those you can. And the helplessness that accompanies them does its own damage.
When we look back in history to extremely stressful situations, we see how severe stressors can lead to suicide in masses of people. For instance, the stock market crash of 1929 for example, illustrates how extreme stress contributed to psychiatric crises for countless people.
This winter — 2021 — has been a “perfect storm” of circumstances with the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, flu season, the COVID variants, remote learning at home for kids, remote working from home, (where stressed parents try to do their job while supervising their children in the same space) and now a historical series of severe arctic storms sweeping from coast to coast, with snow, sleet, and ice causing life threatening traffic pileups, a break down in transportation of goods and services, preventing communities from having what they need… plus a presidential election and an impeachment.
This is proving to be the most stressful, crisis-ridden winter this nation has seen in a very long time. And everyone is facing stressors they can’t control.
And all this stress is dangerous.
Some people have taken every precaution to try to maintain health and safety, and to help contain the fallout of each of these crises. Others have all but thumbed their noses at the need for precaution, and so many others have fallen somewhere in between.
Most people are relatively resilient, and will weather whatever is thrown across their path. But if major stressors are tossed at them day after day, week after week, month after month…eventually they’ll need some sort of relief…a break to recover.
In this particular winter of 2020/2021, we may find ourselves isolated or quarantined. But we still need that break. We need to reach out for relief.
By building a network of people we look forward to talking and laughing with online. Or writing for self-fulfillment and to draw interaction from others, or cooking meals and delivering them to neighbors nearby.
We all need to give. We all need to receive. And we all need feedback. When we give, receive, and participate in feedback…well, those are stressors we can control…so they help.
When the things we need as humans are accessible and balanced in our lives, it’s easier to maintain a certain equilibrium.
But our human needs aren’t always easy to fulfill, and as stressors pile high upon us, we may need more to help us survive.
We may need a treatment to help restore equilibrium. These are highly stressful times for many, many people for a multitude of reasons. While we need to lean into our support system and find it’s not in place, we may need extra support.
Something that IV ketamine treatment excels at is resilience. And resilience chases away the clouds of disillusionment and despair. It helps you bounce back after disappointment and devastation. You may have an abundance of resilience already. But if you don’t, ketamine treatment can sure restore it and arm you for what you face when you’re confronted with stressors you can’t control.
At Innovative Psychiatry, resilience is a remarkable and startling bloom we often see in our ketamine patients. After years of living in a slump, stripped of courage, patience, hope, purpose…to see the same person develop a bright and open countenance, to hear the laughter in his voice, the hope, the confidence…the warmth; to see a life changed so splendidly makes what we do so rewarding.
While ketamine is not effective for everyone — we so wish it was! — its extraordinary impact is life-transforming for many. Neuroscience researchers continue to probe to find reasons for those it doesn’t help.
We also have protocols to ensure your safety when you come to our office for treatment. With Novaerus units in each room that remove the coronavirus from the air you breathe, and surfaces treated by Steramist, which removes 99.999% of all the virus, bacteria, and dangerous pathogens from ALL surfaces, we are diligent about keeping our air clean. We all wear masks, and keep the door locked. We’ve made so many changes… and reinvent down to the smallest details.
You can feel secure knowing that, so you can seek treatment for your depression, PTSD, social anxiety, and suicidal thinking symptoms without fear of COVID infection.
When it seems that the things in life you could always trust seem to fall around you, and the dread of it wears down your ability to try anymore, you might want to call us.
You might want to discuss your options for getting your resilience back.
And if you do, we’ll do our best to help you navigate your way through the barrage.
To find the best you to face the circumstances around you and the stressors you can’t control.
We look forward to talking with you.
To the restoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.