Mental Health Musings
It’s amazing how much ‘time’ has become a commodity throughout this entire coronavirus period. Some say we’ve been robbed of the milestones we thought we were going to have, while others have altered their expectations and pivoted creatively to turn celebrations into smaller, more meaningful experiences. I’ve read so many posts about making the moments at home count, savoring the time we have now and considering what is within our circles of control, while others are preaching that productivity is not the yardstick by which we should be measuring our progress. There are so many different directions in which the pendulum could potentially swing, and one can subscribe to so many self-help channels at the moment, with so much guidance as to how to handle our emotions, allay our fears and settle our minds. Until it just becomes enough...and all you want to do is unsubscribe and shut all the noise down, and be at peace with listening and trusting your own tremoring voice that tickles softly in your heart and reverberates through your head.
For me, time keeps coming to a crashing halt. There are the constant reminders, with curfew now imposed upon us, but then there’s another reminder that keeps recurring. My watch just stops, out of the blue, all the time. I take it off my wrist, leave it untouched and sure enough, it starts working again if I just leave it alone. I’ve heard about theories of excess electricity and magnetism in the body that can actually slow a watch down or make it stop altogether. Sometimes I wonder if G-d is sending me a sign to scale things back, wind myself down and focus on the present, or forget about the time that’s ticking away...sometimes we may just need to tune in more to our own messages with compassion and acceptance, so that we can give of ourselves to others, and take a mindful step away from our technology. And then there’s the daily reminder from my five-year-old daughter, who asks me every morning at breakfast if the coronavirus has washed away...as if time stands still for her every time she innocently asks me her question, and my response might just be the one she is waiting for...And then I catch myself asking my parents and siblings the same questions over and over about when travel restrictions will be lifted, and when we will all be able to see each other without a two-week quarantine and what may just become a 40-hour flight between us.
The uncertainty, unpredictability and messy haze that envelops us can be stifling. Navigating the unknown is unnerving, and having to explain that to others is comforting only to a certain degree. The current civil unrest, maltreatment and societal disorder is horrifying, confusing and awakens questions that we struggle to answer. The suffering and duress that families are facing, so often in silence, is deafening. We can talk about our resiliency, our strengths, our hopes, our empathy, our optimism and the many acts of kindness that shield us. We can talk about our gratitude that propels us forward while also grounding us to what went well until now. But we can also just be, and meet ourselves, our loved ones and the curious minds around us right where we are, engaging in open and honest conversations about faith, race, tolerance, humanity and contextualizing emotions so that we can all just power through and be the emotional compass that we need to be right now.
Here’s to timely reminders, and the moments we have to just hold still...and speak up.
Carly Namdar, a recipient of the 2020 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award, is a doctoral candidate at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Director of Guidance at HALB Middle School in the Five Towns.