The Christmas holiday is complete, and the New Year’s Day holiday is not quite here. The Omicron Variant has made its appearance, and I’m over it.
Not over COVID19 the virus, or an illness, or really anything medically whatsoever.
I’m really frustrated with the number of people who continue to get sick from the coronavirus.
For now, I’m focusing on how mental health therapy, physical movement, and trauma are all interconnected. It relates to COVID, as I’ll describe a little later.
I attended a seminar in November, 2021, which occured over the course of four Wednesdays. Bessel Van Der Kolk led it, and we learned quite a bit about how our minds and bodies are connected and related to trauma from his perspective. He was pretty keen on movement being a part of the healing process.
The audience was made up primarily of therapists and psychologists. There was an opportunity to say ‘hello’ to each other for about 20 minutes before each session began, during which time I generally figured out how to connect to Zoom accurately.
I didn’t ever see someone say they had a different field of work, but I was also fairly distracted with my efforts with getting connected and my anticipation of the seminar.
There were also people attending who had experienced trauma and therapy as their point of perspective.
As a mental health therapist, I provide talk therapy, play therapy, and teenage therapy. Teen therapy isn’t actually a thing, but they are one of my preferred demographics. I also enjoy, among others, adults working to improve their relationships and sense of self, and people with attention differences.
Bessel has been in the field of trauma for most of his career, and the book includes his experiences starting with war veterans, those who have experienced trauma in other ways, and how trauma can affect us from a multiple of perspectives. It also includes some groundbreaking work about treating trauma effectively.
Bessel didn’t really focus on the COVID pandemic, but did have a few statements and opinions about it and how it may be affecting those who participate in mental health therapy.
COVID is a trauma I have identified as affecting my personal, professional, and everyday life. It will likely be studied for years to come.
The last time we had a pandemic of this magnitude was over 100 years ago.
My own experiences have been a little sporadic related to COVID. I noticed that the adults I met with while providing mental health therapy during the initial months of COVID talked mostly about their stressors and things going on with them that were from a mental health perspective, or at least that was my perception.
Teens tended to be very focused on their life changes related to Covid, isolation, and lack of structured activities. Most did not seem to mind their lack of education in the spring, but really minded the way their education had been conducted in the spring, once school re-began in a more planned, online format the next fall.
The age of electronics affected isolation experiences, work-life balance, school and childcare experiences, and pretty much anything else I can think of.
Many people are talking about this current COVID experience, which I’ll refer to as the Omicron variant, related to the holidays of 2021.
I recently looked back at at a text string between my friend and me.
She’s in the medical field, and works in academia.
We were texting for quite a while. I was waiting for a person who had the option of meeting by Telehealth, and she must have had some available time.
She’s trained as a medical doctor (MD) and teaches classes and co-chairs the admissions committee at a medical school.
She was speaking from a medical point of view, and was expressing her concerns about hospital availability, her knowledge of the vaccine which included that it was related to the mRNA string of DNA, and we were wondering what effects this pandemic could have.
We talked about how she wished her son had the option of dropping off pizza at the door of places, at the pizza place where he had the potential of working.
We wondered if some of the bigger arenas for playing basketball would be shutting down, or allowing fewer people in.
We talked about how Telehealth and FaceTime meet some of those all important emotional needs we have, and wished more people would try it.
My son is in the field of IT, and was finishing his senior year of college. When she spoke of Zoom, I mentioned that Luke was using it and found it to be a pretty good alternative to face to face meetings.
Really, as I read back the other day, I really couldn’t believe how many of the things we talked about came to fruition, as well as how unaware we were of just how long these effects will last.
She is kind of like a computer. Her ability to remember information that she reads is really amazing, and she has an interest in all things medical as well as developments in the field.
She spoke of how long the vaccine for the cold virus has been studied, and that our bodies have certain immunities to it that had slowed when it was introduced. Because COVID-19 was something none of us had antibodies for, it was more deadly, but also allowed the vaccine to be completed fairly quickly.
It was really interesting to think about how that conversation and our reality have coincided.
One of the things that I did when I moved to Texas in 2019 was join Club Pilates. At that time, my childhood friend was an instructor for one close to my house, and it was a great way for me to strengthen myself, get to see her, and have something to do as I worked to gain some clients in my therapy practice.
Fast forward 2 years, and I attended a seminar where one of the focuses was how much intentional movement, like Yoga, Pilates, or something like that, helps with mental health, especially when combined with talk therapy.
I have increased to doing 3 Pilates classes a week, and am much stronger than when I began classes in July of 2019
At that time, I was experiencing quite a bit of back pain. I fell from my bike in April of 2020, and re-Injured my left ankle, which has never been my best ligament. I also have some. chronic shoulder pain, from being dislocated multiple times, starting at the age of 5.
Through mental health therapy, physical therapy, Pilates, and multiple other social supports, I have been able to work toward and be healthier during the time of this pandemic.
I have been able to continue to see people, both in person and through Telehealth, for therapy at the group practice I joined just prior to the pandemic in 2020.
As we all experience daily ups and downs, and have feelings about our family interactions, our work life environments, and our down time, how do you help yourself remain strong mentally and physically?
How will we look back on this multi-year trauma, and work to regain a new normal, in years and generations to come?
What have you found to be helpful in setting your fears aside, and being productive at what you are working toward?
What social and emotional supports are helpful to you, and what have you found to be things you don’t want to reintegrate?
Having some friends from my high school living near me has been infinitely helpful as I have learned to live in a new state with different cultures and traffic patterns.
Using Zoom to participate in a monthly movie club with my former youth pastor, and the womens group she has led for 25 years has been one of the high points of my Monday nights.
Having a strong family support, from my husband, my twin sons, my parents, and my siblings has been something I don’t know what I would have done without.
And our dog Mosby certainly did not hurt.
I heard this Omicron variant may be very contagious but less deadly, particularly for those who are vaccinated. I have heard it may peak in a few weeks, and then drop off.
I hope and wait for the day I’m writing about how this pandemic affected us in the past tense, with restrictions a thing of the past.
It’s a nice sunny January day here as I write. Hope there’s something sunny and bright going on with you as well.