We Are All in the Same Boat – Just Different Storms

By Teresa Cox Reading, RN

While we are all in the same boat, we are NOT all in the same storm. This is an analogy that was on Facebook that I found so true to form that I thought I would expound on it, especially during May – Mental Health Awareness Month – and our unprecedented times with COVID-19.

Some have a light rain, perhaps even a sprinkle. It may even slow one down from the day to day exhaustion that many experience. Some may even enjoy the slower pace, to spend time with their families, have less things to attend and even contribute to. They are not experiencing hardship financially and may even flourish at home during this time. Things may be inconvenient, but it is manageable, they have enough to sustain themselves and no one in their family has the virus.

Then there are others who are in a thunderstorm with lightning and thunder. It is scary. It is uncertain. What will happen next? Their boat is not steady. While they may be managing for a short time, they are on the brink of not managing things long term. They are worried about the economic outcome and may have had changes at work to accommodate this situation. Yes, they are managing but constantly worried and may be experiencing a lot of stress at home with small children or teenagers who are trying to adjust to social distancing. The support groups for parents and children are not what they were, and anxiety on the whole family sets in. They may have lost a friend or family member to COVID-19.

The last type of storm is the tropical storm or hurricane. What stress! They may be the people on the front lines whose lives have dramatically changed. They are doing the best they can, but their lives are consumed on a daily basis with the notion that they are at a high risk of contracting the virus. They may not have personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects at the level they feel comfortable with and are worried about their families contracting the virus. Their hours are late, and they live in a day to day haze – sometimes not knowing what day it is. They may also be the homeless, the ones who have lost their jobs and do not know what to do. They may be ill or have family members who are ill. Their lives are in constant turmoil, and their stress level is one of extremes. There are more people like this than we realize.

No matter the type of weather conditions, our boats and oars must be strong and able to weather the light rain and the storms. Taking care of our mental health is paramount in getting through these unprecedented times. If one feels themselves having a hard time coping, there is help. There are also many ways that we can practice selfcare. We can get through this as a family, community, country and world. Let’s see where we are and need to be, and if we need help in any form, ASK. This is not a time to be shy about needing help or getting situated to a “new normal.” Let’s all first help ourselves and then others. We can’t do it alone nor should we have to.

For more information, visit DrReading.com.