Pandemics are really stressful. Thinking that your life, and even the world, can end at any given moment is absolutely terrifying. The media fails to realize how much havoc can be wreaked on people’s mental health during this time. Everybody handles things differently, so utilizing empathy as our greatest tool is key during these tough times.
Part I: Fanta
Fanta is a strong, young lady that has been suffering with depression for most of her life. It all started in elementary school, when she was just a little kid. She could never quite understand the thoughts swirling around in her mind. This strange feeling only got worse when Fanta entered middle school. This massive transition can be, and is, extremely nerve-wracking for so many students. Middle school is a time of great change, a quintessential step in preparing students for their higher educations. However, the mental health of these students is often overlooked or even compromised. Fanta attempted suicide in 9th grade. She, very fortunately, survived and got the help she needed by going to therapy.
Realizing that she needed help was difficult for Fanta. Seeing how her suicide attempt affected her family members was what motivated her to ask this important question: why not help yourself get better? Fanta slowly convinced herself that it would be easier to tell somebody about her issues and pain then just holding it in. Becoming vulnerable and communicating her feelings with someone else was hard, but it definitely paid off. Fanta says that getting therapy was one of the best choices she had made because it helped her gain a more positive perspective towards life. Guidance from her counselor helped drive her forward on an extremely bumpy journey.
During the beginning of quarantine, Fanta didn’t have access to therapy. It was during this time she began to fall into a deep, dark spiral. She had stopped using coping mechanisms and was constantly diminishing her own self-worth. The damaging thoughts circling her mind took away her will to take care of herself. When virtual therapy was finally an option, Fanta chose it. It took time and resilience to rebuild herself to where she was before, but she came out stronger on the other side. She learned to start living for herself and not care what other people had to say. Fanta’s story serves to show us all how recovery is not a straight line. In fact, it’s a road full of twists and turns.
Part II: Brittany Bronson
Brittany Bronson is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist that has been working with people during the pandemic. She provides mental health services for children as young as four years old to adults. Ever since she was a child, Brittany knew she wanted to help people as her career. She originally wanted to be a doctor, but realized that therapy and social work was the path for her. Social work allows Brittany to directly impact an incredibly diverse group of people. Her experiences of giving others selfless encouragement to better themselves only fulfills her childhood dream.
Throughout quarantine, Brittany has seen people who suffer with depression, anxiety, hopelessness, trauma, and self-esteem issues. Depending on the person, some people have worsened symptoms during this worldwide pandemic. Social isolation, fear, and uncertainty about future events all play a major role in the stress many people have to face on a daily basis. These feelings are completely understandable and it is crucial to recognize that you are not alone. You cannot control all these extraneous events occurring around you, but you can control how you respond. It is so easy to get caught up in the happenings of the world. So, be sure to take time to make it even easier for yourself.
Society is full of negative stigmas about mental health. Is always telling people who seek out help that they are “weak” or “crazy”, just for wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle. Brittany states that therapy is a safe place where you will be listened to, no matter what. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work on yourself, it just goes to show how strong you are.
Suffering from a mental illness is not your fault. It is all of our duties to make sure nobody ever feels alone in their journey of recovery. If you are having trouble with your mental health, reach out to anybody you trust so that you can release your frustrations. And if you know of someone suffering during this time, listen to them without any judgement. You never know what somebody is going through beyond the surface. So, here’s my question for you: are you going to utilize empathy as your greatest tool?