In May overdoses skyrocketed by forty two percent. Since the pandemic began, anxiety and depression has increased dramatically due to isolation, job losses, fear of the unknown, and deaths in the family. Prior to the COVID pandemic, suicide was our nation’s second leading causes of death but unfortunately it doesn’t get as much media attention as it should. During our pandemic our own community had a mother of six recently committ suicide. A toddler was found murdered in a dumpster. People are suffering and losing their lives at the hands of people in authority. All of this is very traumatic to those who are left picking up the fragmented pieces of their broken hearts and tormented minds trying to make sense of all the tragedies taking place in our nation in addition to everything else we’re facing. The loss of a job is even more scary for those who are living in poverty. I know because I’ve been there. It’s why we are facing an increased threat against mental health. Teachers and staff are being challenged even more now that we have certain guidelines to follow in the midst of our pandemic in addition to the STAAR tests leaders are still pushing for our state to resume after being out of school for several months already. Not only will they have to focus on the test, they will have to work on plugging the gaps in from all the time lost from being shut down in March.
I get it…life is hard right now. This brings me back to my own ‘pandemics’ I survived through for many years as I raised twins on my own and cleaned up a mess that didn’t go away overnight. I’ve faced seasons of unemployment and lived on $900.00 a month with inconsistent child support while I learned how to navigate through a painful past in addition to withdrawing off of substances and smoking cigarettes. Since I was medicated as young as ten years old when they diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, all I knew was to self-medicate instead of self-regulating myself and getting through life’s tragedies without numbing the pain. Nobody ever told me or showed me how to overcome and let my body’s natural reaction process and develop the way it’s intended to because we were designed to heal.
For years I felt like I lived from one crisis to the next while I healed from my past and learned how to function in society apart from my background. But through those seasons of uncertainties I had to challenge my thought processes because I was still in bondage to negative stinkin thinkin that interfered with how I responded to painful and stressful situations. I lived with constant intrusive thoughts that kept me bound in chains of an internal torment I never want to go back to.
As I continued facing the fear of an unknown future and my painful past, I slowly began to let go of old thinking patterns and began to grow and learned how to think in the midst of crisis because the old way of thinking was no longer an option. I made an internal decision to live by faith and not by sight. Through my most recent tragedies and unknown future I finished and published my first book. We have to come to a place in life where we start choosing what thoughts to listen to and what not to. I’ve learned and continue to learn it’s not what you go through that determines where you end up. It’s Who you listen to.
To those of you who are having a hard time in early recovery as we face a national crisis together, please be encouraged to know I will continue to stand in the gaps with leaders as we turn the mental health language around and become a trauma informed nation so we all make it through the process and unknown future. I testify to my own battles that no weapons formed prospered during my refinement stages, and there is hope beyond recognition because I live a normal life unmedicated as I’ve grown to understand how to respond in times of crisis.