While the news relays the impact of COVID-19 through the enormous death rate and the economic downturn, there is another disastrous outcome that isn't receiving nearly as much attention. Depression and suicidal ideation have been on the rise during this period as well. The sheer enormity of the loss of life is partly to blame. Many have either lost loved ones or know someone who has lost a loved one. And grieving this loss has been complicated by the inability to have traditional funerals. I have attended funerals via zoom at this time which allowed me to be "present" to support the families, but not to hug them or hold them in the way that we typically comfort the grieving. The risk of catching the virus has changed the way we interact.
Even for those who have not lost loved ones, it has been difficult. The isolation brought on by stay-at-home orders, as well as by social distancing, was a lot to endure. Added to that, abrupt unemployment and underemployment created financial stressors for millions of individuals and families. Social injustice and unrest fanned the flames of mental anguish for many, and it feels like every segment of our country is experiencing pain in some uniquely intense way. I know what it's like to experience pain so intense that it felt like the only way to end it would be to end my life. I battled a clinical depression for a time that I thankfully found my way to the brighter side of a few years ago. What saved my life were God, therapy, journaling, more sensible life management skills and a stronger emotional support system. I am aware that each individual is different and so each may require a different formula, or different events, to turn things around for them.
The poet featured here, Andrea Gibson, had an event take place while she was suicidal that turned things around for her. It was poetic in its irony and life-changing in its gravity. And because she is such a capable artist, she was able to illustrate her story in a way that reaches others. In her story, you can see that life has an unmistakable beauty, even when it feels tattered and worthless. Take a listen and I'm sure you'll agree. If you or anyone you love is dealing with suicidal thoughts or ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255. It may not feel like it, but I can promise you that your life is worth the call. You are not alone. You are surrounded by people who stood where you are standing and who made it to the other side. You can make it too! I'm saving a seat for you. You are far too valuable to let this seat get cold.