As 2016 came to an end, an audible sigh of relief could be heard on social media. All of the shootings, the political chaos, the loss of so many beloved musicians and actors – left us feeling like we’d spent the last year in a hornets’ nest. Our community in Orlando, particularly the LGBT, is still reeling from this past year.
In many ways, we are all hurting. We are all affected. Even if you’re someone who has been managing your depression, anxiety, or stress, it can still be a challenge to keep your head above water in such trying times. So what do you do if you find yourself in that position?
To start, think about where you are right now and take it from there. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory commonly presented in the shape of a pyramid. It helps determine what a person’s needs are based on physiology/basic needs, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Those placed in basic needs or safety, like many after the year of 2016, are in what is known as “survival mode.”
Physiology/basic needs include food, water, warmth, and rest/sleep. If you’re not eating or are losing significant amounts of sleep, you need to start there. For loss of appetite, try eating smaller amounts of food, more times a day. I like to keep foods around that are easily accessible. I think about my friends who have young children and how they often keep snack bags in their purse with Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, or breakfast bars. It’s more realistic that you’ll eat whatever it is if it’s not something you have to prepare or go somewhere to get it.
For issues with sleep, try thinking about what you might be doing (or not doing) to contribute to that. Electronics are stimulants. Engaging with your phone, tablet, or laptop before bed could cause you to lose sleep. Watching TV in bed or drinking lots of caffeine can interrupt sleep as well. Try trading out coffee and soft drinks with warm decaf tea with milk. Instead of catching up on your favorite show, try reading a book before bed.
Another consideration is whether or not you are being safe. Some people in crisis mode turn to self-harming behaviors such as cutting, drinking too much, or turning to drugs. Some can even become dissociative, blacking out while driving or not remembering whole hours. At this point, you will want to build a strong support system and seek professional help.
Lastly, remember that you are not alone. We’ve all been there at some point. Take this time to reach out to your friends. Think about simple things like taking a hot bath or going on a long walk. At Two Spirit, we have a medical and mental health clinic, set in a friendly and relaxing environment, here to help you. Healing takes time so you have to be patient with yourself, understand that it is a process, and just do SOMETHING. Start Somewhere.