Psych Bytes Podcast

Psych Bytes

Breaking the Stigma and Enhancing Lives!

All Episodes

The dating landscape is constantly changing due to societal factors, personal values, and of course, technology. With hundreds of dating apps and websites flooding the market, connecting with likeminded individuals has never been easier! But why do so many helpless romantics struggle with finding true love? In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, analyze the current dating landscape and share practical tips on how you can level up in the dating game and find true love.

Feb 2019

52 min

What does it mean to be a family? Some exclude families to only parents and blood relatives. Others define families as people who you genuinely love, trust, and care about. In this episode of the Psych Bytes Podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, share their thoughts and definitions on the term "family" and share practical tips on how you can overcome challenges and obstacles that many "families" face. How do you define family? In honor of March Madness, we created a "March Family Madness" bracket. Each conference is sorted by "a type" of family, those types being: Animated Families, Sitcom Families, Reality TV Families, and Chosen Families. Make your selections below based on YOUR definition of family. Don't forget to share your results and let us know why you selected your champion family. Note: If you cannot see the bracket below, click on this link. var eventMethod = window.addEventListener ? "addEventListener" : "attachEvent"; var messageEvent = eventMethod == "attachEvent" ? "onmessage" : "message"; window[eventMethod](messageEvent, function(e) { if (e.origin != "https://brackify.com") { return;} var iframeWrap = document.getElementById("brackify-iframe-wrap"); if (iframeWrap) { if (e.data["scroll"]) { var bodyRect = document.body.getBoundingClientRect(); var elemRect = iframeWrap.getBoundingClientRect(); var offset = elemRect.top - bodyRect.top + e.data["scroll"]; window.scrollTo(0, offset); } if (e.data["bracket-completed"]) { if (window.brackifyBracketCompletedHandler) { window.brackifyBracketCompletedHandler() } } if (e.data["resize"]) { iframeWrap.style.height = (parseInt(e.data["resize"])) + "px"; } } }, false);

Mar 2019

51 min

Is social media good? Is social media bad? How much information is too much information to share with social networks? In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, discuss both the positive and negative effects of social media.

Apr 2019

59 min

Hi everyone! I'm Leia Charnin, a counseling psychologist here at Southeast Psych, and I'm going to be talking to you today about psychology. I know, shocking! When clients come into the office they're often times questioning about different ways of working in therapy and these questions can come up about what different methods of therapy are. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance commitment therapy (ACT); all these different terms that we throw around within our field. I'm a therapist who does both individual and group therapy and I focus on issues related to anxiety, depression, and trauma. Within those domains, there's a lot of acronyms that we tend to throw around that may confuse people. With that being said, Psych Bytes decided to create a series called “The ABCs of Psychology.” Our goal with this series is to create a more conversational dialogue about the different modalities of therapy so you are more informed and aware. I'm going to start off with a couple of different acronyms, and the jargon that we like to throw around, and also present a couple of different examples that we might use in a session. Click here for more content by Leia Charnin, Ph.D.!

Apr 2019

17 min

Why do we find things funny? In this episode of the Psych Bytes Podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, do a deep dive into the psychology of humor.

May 2019

71 min

From Chaos to Calm: The Practice of Mindfulness Mindfulness is a popular buzzword these days. It’s written about in blogs, discussed on podcasts, and encouraged at corporate retreats. But what is mindfulness and how should we go about understanding it and incorporating into our daily lives? In this episode of the Psych Bytes Podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, do a deep dive into the history, psychology, and benefits of mindfulness!

Jun 2019

66 min

Rest for the Weary: Mental Health Benefits of Downtime How rested do you feel right now? Americans, in particular, are struggling with rest. The United States produces a lot of research on the benefits of downtime, yet our country seems to be the one receiving the least amount of time off. In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, analyzes a few reasons why Americans are getting less rest. They also share practical tips and tricks on how to ensure that your downtime is spent wisely!

Jul 2019

62 min

Tribalism and Groupthink: Unite for the Right Reasons In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, are discussing tribalism and groupthink. They explain how and why we divide ourselves along political and cultural fault lines. Tribalism can be a real problem. So, how can we recognize our own tribalism and put an end to this phenomenon? Here are our 8 tips to put an end to tribalism: 8 Ways to Put an End to Tribalism: Ask yourself what makes you an individual. What makes you special? What makes you unique? Remember, you ARE different from others in your "tribe" Embrace a level of skepticism. Be willing to question your own beliefs and consider the beliefs of others. Maybe you're wrong. Maybe the other tribe is wrong. Who knows, you might both be right and you might both be wrong! Be skeptical! Expose yourself to contradictory ideas. There are many different views, ideas, and beliefs in the world. Expose yourself to different viewpoints. Practice theory of mind. Theory of mind is being able the take the perspective of another person. Ask yourself the following question: "why would this person think or believe this?" Acknowledge diversity within groups. Understand that people in tribes are completely different. Just because an individual aligns with a particular tribe does not mean they are like everyone else in that tribe. Avoid "lumping" groups of people together! Tackle groupthink head-on. Talk and notice groupthink within your own "tribe". Select one individual in your group and have them be the "devil's advocate" and address opposing thoughts and viewpoints. For more information on groupthink, continue reading this article! Get proximate. If you want to understand an issue, you have to get next to the people who understand other ideas, issues, and experiences. This could take the form of traveling, reading, or sitting down and talking with someone else who thinks differently from you. Focus on what is shared. Pay attention to what you have in common with other people and avoid focusing on what divides us. What is Groupthink and How Does It Relate to Tribalism? For our tribalism breakaway segments, Dave Verhaagen, Ph.D., talks about groupthink. Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon when a group of people start thinking with one mind. Yale psychologist, Irving Janis, first coined the term in 1972 to describe the systematic errors groups make with their decisions. These groups share the same beliefs, consider the same facts, fail to consider other facts, and come to the same conclusions. Groupthink sounds like a good thing until you realize the group then loses the ability to objectively evaluate alternatives and options. As a result, the group tends to make irrational decisions and take irrational actions. These groups almost always overestimate how solid their positions are and feel like they are making the necessary and morally correct choices. Janis found three conditions that produce groupthink: high group cohesiveness, structural faults, and situational context. High group cohesiveness is when people are more concerned about the harmony of the group than rocking the boat. This is the MOST important. Structural faults are when the group tends to be more isolated from other groups or has strong, but biased leadership. Situational context refers to factors such as high stress, time pressures, or a history of recent failures. We see groupthink and tribalism EVERYWHERE! It can be found in politics, religion, business, professional organizations, and in social clubs and groups. Start to monitor and analyze your surroundings and don't fall prey to groupthink. It is NEVER a good thing!

Aug 2019

78 min

What is prison really like? In this episode, we are talking about incarceration - mental health implications and issues related to re-entry into society. Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., Jennifer Fights, LPC, will discuss the history of incarceration in the United States. They also have an in-depth discussion with special guest Gemini Boyd (founder of Project Bolt), who was incarcerated for 20 years and is grappling with the challenges of re-entry. Support Gemini Boyd and Project Bolt through the following ways: Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBOLT/Twitter - https://twitter.com/boyd_geminiEmail - jboyd0818@gmail.com Recommended Readings to Learn More About the History of Our Criminal Justice System, Incarceration, and Mental Health Black Codes (United States) - WikipediaSouthern Program Continued Slavery Long After the Civil War - Stephanie BuckDoes An Exception Clause in 13th Amendment Still Permit Slavery? - Becky LittleConvict Lease System - Digital HistoryIt Happened in Florida: Remarkable Events That Shaped History - E. Lynne WrightWorse Than Slavery - David M. OshinskyCriminal Justice Fact Sheet - NAACPBill Clinton and the 1994 Crime Bill - Robert FarleyMass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019 - Wendy Sawyer and Peter WagnerYes, U.S. Locks People Up At A Higher Rate - Michelle Ye Hee Lee (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Racial Inequities and Our Criminal Justice System Jen Neitzel, Ph.D. - Executive Director of the Education Equity Institute According to the Sentencing Project, 1 in 3 Black men is likely to spend time in prison in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 17 White men. The racial disparity also exists for women. 1 in 111 White women will spend time in prison, however, with Black women this likelihood increases to 1 in 18. It is hard to ignore the connection between the educational system and the criminal justice system when we look at these statistics in conjunction with suspension and expulsion rates for Black children versus White children. Statistics indicate that Black children are 1.8 times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their White peers, with Black boys being more affected by these disciplinary actions. In fact, they are suspended or expelled at a rate of 3.5 times greater than White children. Although suspensions and expulsions are generally associated with older children, recent statistics suggest that an alarming number of young children, who are overwhelmingly Black, are being excluded from early learning environments. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has reported that young Black children are suspended or expelled at up to 4 times the rate of White children. Once a child is suspended from school even one time, he or she is more likely to be suspended repeatedly, drop out of school, or enter the criminal justice system – hence the phrase “school-to-prison pipeline.” In fact, the incarceration industry looks at 3rd-grade reading levels and suspension rates to determine when and where to build new prisons. A key piece that is needed to unravel the ties between our educational and criminal justice systems is to dig deeper into the root causes and historical underpinnings of today’s practices. Beginning in the late 1800s, vagrancy laws, which required Blacks to be able to prove that they had jobs, were particularly malicious. Jobs were very hard to come by in early Jim Crow. If Black people (primarily Black men) were unable to prove that they were employed, they were immediately convicted by law enforcement. The most common way for Black people to overcome their debts to society was forced labor on former plantations and in private companies. By 1880, nearly 25 percent of these convicts were children; some as young as six years of age. As such, many Black children could not attend school, and when they did their learning experiences were woefully ...

Sep 2019

54 min

In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, we discuss trigger warnings, snowflakes, and safe spaces, specifically in the workplace or education system. Before we jump into the episode, let's discuss some of these terms from a mental health perspective and our feelings/beliefs on these terms. Trigger Warnings, Snowflakes, and Safe Spaces From a mental health perspective, a trigger warning is a psychological stimulus that can very clearly be pointed to a thing (it can be a certain person, place, situation, circumstance, etc.) and how that thing "triggers" an individual's identifiable trauma. Our problem with the term "trigger warning" is that this term and phrase has been watered down. This very important term was (and still is) used as a psychological "cause and effect" for trauma. Nowadays, people use trigger warnings to describe when they are uncomfortable or upset with a particular situation. For an individual actually struggling with a traumatic event, let's say PTSD, this significantly minimizes their experience. Here's a comparison for example. Let's say an individual is walking down the street and a stranger looks at them in a disgustful way. In today's culture, that individual might say "ugh, the way that person looked at me triggered me." Now, let's say the same individual who is walking down the street has been clinically diagnosed with PTSD. Now, when the individual walks past the stranger, the stranger's smell and appearance remind them of their traumatic experience. That's how the term trigger warning has been watered down. There should be a clear cause and effect when using this term. Snowflake (aka the snowflake generation) is typically used to describe a person or a group of people who believe to have an "inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions." (Wikipedia) This term was popularized during a confrontation that went viral between Yale students and faculty Head of College, Nicholas Christakis. Due to its origin, snowflakes and the snowflake generation typically represents "the young adults of the 2010s." Safe space refers to places created for marginalized individuals, allowing them to safely and freely come together and talk about their experiences with marginalization. The first safe spaces were created for the gay and lesbian community, but it has grown since then. Nowadays, there are safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, women, religious groups, and more. These places are typically found on college campuses and in the workplace. This topic is very polarizing. Some view safe spaces as a necessity for certain communities, whereas others view safe spaces as a way for "individuals to retreat from thoughts and ideas at odds with their own." What are your thoughts and beliefs on trigger warnings, snowflakes, and safe spaces? Let us know in the comment section below. While you're at it, let us know what other topics we should discuss on the Psych Bytes podcast!

Nov 2019

58 min

Holiday Horror Stories: How to Survive The Holiday Season This time of year, it would be nice to have an episode focused on peace, love, and holiday cheer... But this is NOT that episode. For many people the holidays are not so merry, so we are leaning into that by sharing some grim stories from folks you might expect to be perfectly well-adjusted and strongly connected to family and friends. Yes, these horror stories are shared by mental health professionals! Sure, we are trained to help people through challenging times, including the holidays, but we are humans too and we have baggage! In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Dr. Craig Pohlman and Jennifer Fights, LPC, listen to three different holiday horror stories and share mental health tips to survive the holiday season!

Dec 2019

56 min

In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Dr. Craig Pohlman and Jennifer Fights, LPC, talk about gaslighting, narcissism, and The Cluster of F**ks. Don't forget to subscribe to the Psych Bytes podcast so you get notified whenever we drop a new episode! For more information on gaslighting, continue reading our article. What is Gaslighting? Gaslighting is defined as psychologically manipulative behavior used by someone attempting to undermine another person's reality by denying facts, discounting the obvious, and invalidating the other person's feelings. Gaslighters use tactics such as persistent denial, misdirection, and lying to destabilize their victims and delegitimize the victim's beliefs. People often gaslight to stay in control of a situation or avoid truly dealing with the feelings of the other person or conflict they deem uncomfortable. Examples of Gaslighting Now that you understand what gaslighting is, it's time to become masterful at identifying it in real-world interactions. Psych Central has a phenomenal article on common gaslighting phrases. Some of these phrases include, but are not limited too... You're crazy. You have issues.You're being insecure.You're too sensitive. It was just a joke. Loosen up.You need to let it go.Why are you bringing this up?You're the problem, not me.I never said/did that.You're imagining things.You totally made that up. Gaslighting in Relationships A healthy relationship can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling aspects of our lives. Most adults desire an intimate relationship with a loving partner, but not all relationships are easy. That's why it's important to talk about gaslighting in relationships. In this podcast, we discuss the importance of recognizing gaslighting and what to do if your spouse or significant other is gaslighting you. Don't forget to subscribe to the Psych Bytes podcast!

Jan 3

48 min

The Psychology of Music Why does music resonate so much with the human brain? In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., and Jennifer Fights, LPC, discuss the psychology of music.

Feb 7

57 min

In this episode of the Psych Bytes podcast, Myque Harris, LPC, and Tarik Sloussi, LPC, discuss the powerful benefits behind meditation. Myque also walks us through a guided meditation exercise that you can use daily to relax your mind, increase your focus, and live mindfully.

Mar 6

47 min

Loneliness affects up to 3 out of 5 adults in the United States. For children, one out of every 10 reports having no friends. New research shows the health effects of loneliness are comparable to risk factors such as smoking cigarettes! Loneliness can seriously compromise physical health and quality of life – even leading to an earlier death. The U.K. recognized social isolation as such an issue, they appointed a Minister of Loneliness. Given this clear crisis, The Rabbit Effect author Dr. Kelli Harding concludes, “The data seems crystal clear: It’s time to take socializing as seriously as exercise, diet, and sleep.” Aside from physical health, here are a few other ways loneliness impacts us... Social Media Americans appear to be lonelier than ever, with Gen Z experiencing the most loneliness all of the generations. Despite more ways to connect with others, such as social media, social isolation is increasing. In fact, some research has found that decreasing social media use actually lessens feelings of loneliness! Of course, it’s not so simple to say social media causes loneliness, and it may be a great alternative for people who have difficulty interacting in person. Mental Health Depression, anxiety-spectrum disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and schizophrenia can lead to social withdrawal. Autism spectrum disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and personality disorders can cause difficulty with social skills, which might result in loneliness. Substance Use/Addiction Some researchers have suggested that loneliness causes addiction (Example: the “Rat Park” studies). Now we know the relationship is not quite so simple: substance use may lead to social isolation, or stress from loneliness may increase substance use. What is clear is that some relationship between loneliness and substance use exists. Treatment studies show substance use treatments with a social component such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are as effective as structured psychotherapy.  Should we consider loneliness a disorder in its own right? How can we treat it, like we would a cold or an anxiety disorder? It seems the prescription for loneliness and its negative health effects is meaningful social interactions. Meaningful being the key word because, as they say, you can feel lonely in a crowded room. Find people you enjoy being around. Find people who inspire you. Find people who make you belly laugh. It might have a huge effect on your physical and mental health. Many people are newly isolated due to COVID-19; however, others may have experienced physical isolation for some time due to their physical health or lack of mobility. Once COVID-19 social distancing is over, those who are able may wish to increase their in-person social interactions. Either way, though, we can experience meaningful social exchanges! Here are some ideas to combat loneliness in either situation: Ideas for Remote Social Interaction: Call or video chat with a friend or family member. Bonus points if it’s someone you haven’t spoken with for a long time.Join in on a livestream: They have dance parties, concerts, and more.Send a card or letter to someone. People in nursing homes, hospitals, or on deployment would probably enjoy some mail!Join a virtual group: Maybe video gaming, a religious group, or a support group. Ideas for In-Person Social Interaction: Learn a new skill: Take a class at a gym, local community college, or the public library.Use a group meetup app to find friends with a shared hobby.Introduce yourself to your neighbors.Ask someone from work or school to have lunch or grab coffee with you.Go to a local event: A fair, arts show, concert, etc.Volunteer at a food pantry, animal shelter, or other local nonprofit. Share your ideas in the comments!  Click here for more content by Cameron Mosley, Ph.D.!

Mar 24

6 min

“I can’t believe it is already mid-July.” “[Insert name of child] has gotten so big! How did that happen? When did that happen??” “Today flew by. I feel like I got nothing done. Why does life go so fast?” “I wrote down 2016 instead of 2017 on a document at work today.” “Was college really [amount of years since your graduation] ago?! I don’t believe it.” “Every time I get on Facebook there is a new engagement, wedding, or baby on my feed. When did my friends start growing up?” Is Your Life Moving Too Fast? Have you caught yourself saying or thinking some of these statements in the past 2 weeks? Well, don’t worry because you are not alone. The older I have become the faster I realized that each day and week will go by faster than the previous one. I was once told that there is a ratio for time, which is... This ratio is changing EVERY DAY! For example, when we are one year old, one year probably feels like exactly that- a full, long year. Do you remember watching a timer for 30 seconds as a child and it felt like an eternity? But as a 10-year-old, the ratio being 1/10, we start to realize it won’t be much longer until we will be 11 years old. A year feels closer. The ratio quickly starts to feel out of our control- with a blink of an eye we are 27, and then another blink and we will be 40. With each passing year, time seems to go by that much faster. Were you born around 1990? Then definitely don’t click on this Buzzfeed link. It seems that 20 and 30-somethings are starting to realize that life is moving fast… life is moving WAY too fast… and are becoming more anxious as they feel less in control. Does this hit close to home? Do you believe life goes by too fast? If so, check out some helpful tips below. 1. Be Present in This Moment Right now, this very second is different from the last. Be curious to notice the slight changes between this moment and the previous one. Notice your breathing. Are you breathing into your chest or your stomach? Is there any part of your body that feels the tension that you can release? What is the furthest thing you can hear right now? Tapping into your mindful self can help make the time ratio feel less anxiety provoking by giving you a sense of control. I believe that the older we get we also have more things to worry about. Having a never-ending to-do list can wire our brains to be constantly thinking about the future and miss out what is happening right in front of us! Take advantage of this moment to pause and be present. 2. Intentionally Take the Time to Reflect and Process “How was your weekend? What did you do?” Have you ever struggled to answer these questions because you honestly don’t remember? When we are operating in a stressful time in our lives, our brains become more equipped to think about the future instead of the past or present. Depending on the amount of stress, it can feel challenging to recall any memory. Reflecting and processing your day is a simple mental workout to strengthen your brain. Around bedtime, think through your day from waking up to you doing the reflective exercise in the present moment. For example; I woke up, took a shower, got dressed, drank a smoothie for breakfast, went to work, talked to Dave about a project…and so on. A research study by the University of Texas at Austin revealed that practicing a reflective exercise daily will help consolidate memory, boost your learning capability, and enhance your mental health. 3. Journal Daily Write down 3 things you accomplished and/or 3 things you are grateful for every day. These entries can be as simple as... “Today I brought in coffee for a co-worker and it clearly made her day. I also have a college friend in town and it was great to catch up with her during lunch.” Having tangible pages with your thoughts written down can also boost the...

Mar 27

10 min

Virtual Happy Hours via Zoom, Google Hangouts, or any other online meetup space is too enticing for an extrovert to pass up. It’s everything you’ve been wanting after being cooped up in your home. Cooped up either all by yourself, with a partner who you love, but in recent weeks, have seen waaaaaaay too much of, or with children you’ve been “homeschooling”. I emphasize the quotation marks in “homeschooling”...because some days, I just can’t. I mean, on my most busy work-from-home days, I still manage to become my child’s teacher, cafeteria chef, and physical education coach. After “work hours”, I’m back on duty with dinner, family time, and next day prep. By the end of the day, I’m ready for a hardy spirit. If you’re anything like me: trying to find balance in this new normal or just trying to cope during these uncertain times, I know you’ve had a drink at home more than a couple of nights. (Picture me tilting my head, pursing my lips, and giving you the side-eye.) But that can’t compare to throwing back a couple of cold ones with a group of friends. I mean, isn’t that why so many of us use to gather at the local brewery or hot spot after a hard week at work? Apparently, even when the majority of the world is stuck in their homes, many of us STILL have a bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This extrovert included! So to keep the tradition alive, we’ve turned to virtual Happy Hours. It totally makes sense! It’s the only way we can gather socially while still keeping physical distance. It’s a chance to smile at each other and laugh. It’s our chance to connect. It’s an extrovert’s in isolation dream—or is it? As I reflect on all the Zoom meetings and telecalls I’ve had over the last 3 weeks, I’m not feeling as excited as I should about the upcoming Virtual Happy Hour. What if it’s just another video call, only with a drink in my hand? Maybe I will feel great and it will be a total blast. An extrovert’s dream fulfilled! But what if after the first 15 minutes, the novelty wears off? No hugs, no gentle brush on my shoulder to say hi as someone passes by, no clinking glasses to say cheers...will this start to feel like my worst nightmare when I start to remember I’m still very alone in a room??? The truth is...I don’t know. No one knows.  But what I do know is that “What If-ing” our lives away during times like this doesn’t help. It only creates stress and anxiety about something that hasn’t happened yet. Stress and anxiety about something we can’t control. So, I take a few deep breaths, shift my thoughts to only focus on the positive, and decide to show up for the virtual party with bells on! Virtual Happy Hour may not be this extrovert's definition of the “best party ever”, but it will be a time to see people I care about. And during times like this... that’s what really matters.  Namaste. Click here for more content by Myque Harris, LPC!

Apr 3

5 min

It's the day after our county issued a "Stay at Home" mandate. I'm running along a greenway on a warm March morning when I hear an alarm and a pre-recorded voice blaring near the playground at Freedom Park. The voice is instructing people to leave the playground as it has basically been deemed unsafe by health and safety, in light of the pandemic. How apocalyptic: not dangerous because of faulty, recalled, or broken equipment but because the virus can survive for up to 72 hours on hard shiny surfaces (which you would think would be the antithesis for sustaining life; although viruses are debatably living organisms…). At the tennis courts, I turn around and run back, this time closer to the playground, to catch a glimpse of what is really going on here. The siren and announcement are no longer sounding, but there are police vehicles in the parking lot, and the monkey bars, slides, and swings — which most mornings would be swarming with young healthy bodies — are completely empty. Although I am thankful for many things—for such nice weather during quarantine, for people taking measures seriously, for blue skies and warm breeze backdropping the empty play area—I can't help but notice that this, with the alarm echoing in my mind, makes for an eerie and dystopian scene. Two people whom I know well, know people who have died. A flu-like feeling sets in for a few days: low energy and feverish. They seemed to pop back for a day and tried to regain some normalcy, thinking it had passed. Then a terrible upper respiratory infection sets in. A relatively short time later, they are no longer of this world. Both were young, with no obvious pre-existing conditions. Others walk around asymptomatic, unknowing carriers of a virus that could either do nothing at all or kill you. Worrisome to say the least. Devastating at worst. As a therapist, I've heard some clients acknowledge the pandemic as “inconvenient." I've also heard things such as “It’s hard to know what stance to take,” and “I’m scared of how long this will last.” Food is necessary, and I go to the grocery store one afternoon. Tape is on the floors, measuring six feet apart. Is 6 feet really guaranteed to keep me safe? People are wearing gloves and masks, looking at each other out of the corners of their eyes as they pass each other. These looks seem suspicious to indicate, “Sorry if I'm walking around you like you might contaminate me.” The shelves are randomly bare— no beans, no paper products, no fresh meat, no ginger. I metaphorically scratch my head in solidarity with all of us who are wondering why toilet paper? I am not sure whether I am more concerned about human behavior in reaction to the pandemic than the pandemic itself. Am I an idiot for even being here? Will this be the new normal? I quickly grab a few things on my list, but the oddness of it all makes me more eager to leave than think about the fact that I will just have to return later if I don’t take the time to make sure we have what we need for the week.  As human beings, we all can feel anxious—but we need uncertainty. We try to build routines and develop relationships as a means of coping—but also thriving. Frequently, people who struggle with mood also struggle with maintaining routine and developing relationships. When an outside force further exacerbates this, we all struggle immensely. This pandemic offers so much unknown and possible calamity for a potentially very long time, that even the least anxious of us might feel a heaviness in our chests when we contemplate it or try to take in the latest research and news. We need uncertainty, but this sometimes feels like too much. We set out to try to control what we can: 6 feet apart, soap and water, hand sanitizer, don’t touch your face. Suddenly everyone is a “germaphobe” and the OG’s, “original germaphobes”, don’t look so paranoid.  Will this just keep happening?

Apr 13

12 min

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