Caring about others when impacted ourselves with this stressful situation.

I’ve been proud to be a Mental Health Advocate for nearly six years. In the midst of this crisis I’ve had moments when I have completely detached from news reports and stepped back from advocating for others.

I would call that survival. Doing the best I can with the situation to cope.

And then I return to my usual habits and begin to delve into data, reading and gaining knowledge. Upon reflection I realized how dire this situation is for the most vulnerable among us, those who are living in institutions of any kind and the homeless population. Those who work in those environments. Healthcare workers who are trying to save people’s lives. Truck drivers delivering packages and products. Essential workers going out everyday and putting themselves at risk in an unknown fashion.

I think about the stars in our community who are preparing meals for others. I think about courageous leaders who are making courageous choices to be conservative until having more information.

And one could arguably say I most likely think too much. But it’s both my strength and weakness. I’d rather have these profound moments of reflection and self-correction than live with my head in the sand.

I’ve learned the hard way I walk a very fine line between advocating, coaching and supporting others, while trying to manage my own challenges. At the end of the day, I decided if I don’t use my gifts, talents, skills, insights and what platform I do have, I will not be satisfied with myself.

On that note, I have learned to try and direct my frustrations with the unknown to the things I can control. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose in that balance.

Some have said, “we are all in this together.” But I think the reality is we are all just trying our best to navigate and play the cards we have been dealt. Some have a far better hand than others. But I’ve learned in life to play the hand you have…and maybe just maybe…you’ll end up coming out ahead.

I deeply care about Mental Health Advocacy. I care a lot for others. And I’m trying to do better in giving a voice to those who don’t have one.

Will you join me if you can?

Amy Gamble

We are living through a traumatic event. How you are coping matters.

There’s never been a more important time to talk about mental health than now. Fortunately, there was already a growing movement to normalize mental health conditions and make the public more aware of early signs and symptoms. The movement was working and gaining momentum.

It’s really a blessing to have greater awareness given we are now isolated from our friends and colleagues, our lives are completely disrupted, friends and family members for some people are sick or dying, we learn everyday about new research or facts about a virus.

We are all living through a continuous traumatic event. Whether or not we become traumatized depends on the severity of outcomes and what are coping mechanisms are.

Whether or not are worries or stress begin to interfere with our thinking, emotions and behavior and disrupt are life, ability to cope, work, have relationships…the level of disruption is how we define a mental health condition. And yet every aspect of all of our lives is disrupted in some way. This puts an entire population at risk for the development of mental health conditions and/or substance use disorder.

Those of us who already deal with mental illness, well it can be hard on us. It will again depend on how well we can manage our conditions and cope with the current situation in a healthy manner.

What we have on our hands now is the opportunity to begin to think about how the stay at home orders are impacting us and our family members. What are some healthy ways to cope?

For myself, I find the outdoors to be my refuge. Nature is my church. It lifts my mood to work outside on various projects and breathe the fresh air while I listen to the gifts of nature.

Not everyone has that luxury.

I also listen to music, meditate, and limit my reading of corona virus articles. I turn off the news when I’ve heard enough for the day. I practice staying in the present moment. I’ve pulled out all my coping mechanisms.

And yet today when the weather didn’t cooperate I found myself feeling the stress of my family members. The conversations were about being frustrated with being locked in. I hadn’t really thought about it, until they talked about it and I was stuck inside.

I finally retreated to my room for some silence. Quiet. Giving my senses a chance to stop being stimulated. A deep breath, a couple Tylenol for a headache and lots of water made me feel a bit better.

I feel like we are in this for the long haul. I believe my mental health benefits when I don’t resist the obvious. I accept what is and keep moving forward just grateful I get one more day to see the sun rise and hear the birds sing.

My secret to positive mental health is acknowledging how I feel, doing healthy physical activities that improve my mood and give me a sense of accomplishment, and focusing on what I can control.

It also helps to have a Tylenol on hand for when the stress overwhelms me and I get a headache.

I accept that too. Whatever comes up I deal with it and keep on moving knowing in my heart that “this to shall pass.”

And…

the Mental Health Movement will continue with a surge of heightened awareness.

Amy Gamble