Finding Light in the Darkness

I think I can speak for everyone when I say these past few weeks haven’t been easy for any of us. Not only are we all confined to the house — physically separated from our friends and members of our own families — but we’re also surrounded by news of illness and death every time we turn on the TV or scroll through our social media feeds. 

People are anxious and on edge…and for good reason. There are a ton of people who don’t know when or where their next paycheck is going to come from, or who either are or have high-risk individuals in their families. Even for those who are lucky enough not to be experiencing these particular brands of stress and anxiety, there’s something inherently scary about knowing there’s a contagious virus spreading through all of our communities. The vast majority of us have never experienced anything quite like this, and it takes some navigating and adjusting to accept the fact that this will very well be our new normal for at least a few more months.

On a personal note, I was hesitant to even start crafting this blog post before I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. It wasn’t because I had no ideas, or because I didn’t feel like there was anything to talk about (believe me…there’s plenty), but because writing meant having to think about what’s going on outside of the confines of my home. For me, this last week has consisted of doing everything in my power not to think about the climbing number of cases in my county…how much I miss my siblings and my dad…how wary I am to even bring the mail in because you don’t know who’s touched this in the past few hours.

The thought of having to draft piece rehashing all of the world’s struggles with this pandemic was daunting. 

It just so happened that when I was talking to my mom about this very predicament, I was interrupted mid-thought by sirens blaring from a few blocks away. As it turned out, our town’s fire department was driving down the neighborhood roads with their sirens on and the Easter bunny standing and waving to the people who’d come out onto their front porches to watch. My mom commented on how nice it was that they would do that for the kids whose Easters were going to be much different than they’ve been used to. That was when it dawned on me. 

When highlighting things about the state of the world today, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about all of the negatives. We know that times are scary and difficult. We all feel it everyday. Too much of that can put you in a bad headspace, and sometimes we need to look to the sources of light in the darkness in order to stay in a decent state of mind during a time like this. These situations — while scary and difficult — can sometimes bring out the best in people, and I think it’s important to look to these moments when we may feel like the fear and worry is threatening to become overwhelming. 

For example, I saw a story just this morning about hospital staff who have been wearing pictures of themselves smiling secured to the front of their PPE in an effort comfort the patients they’re treating when they aren’t able to see their faces. It’s a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but I think it goes to show us how much our healthcare workers really care and understand the fear that their patients must be feeling. 

In other positive news, a teenager from Virginia has been using his flight training to bring medical equipment to rural areas that are struggling to get it. There have also been multiple stories of people from all around the country using 3D printing to supply masks to healthcare workers treating COVID patients who do not have enough PPE. Even my own neighbor was telling my mom and I that she has been using all of the free time she’s found during quarantine to sew cloth masks for people to wear when they need to shop for groceries or pick up prescriptions. 

Most of us have seen videos all over the internet of people cheering for the healthcare workers changing shifts from the windows of their apartments. One of the hospitals not too far from my own town had first responders circling the hospital with their sirens on to convey their appreciation for those on the frontlines. Some of my neighbors have even hung signs in their windows thanking the essential workers who still bring packages and food to our houses.

Now, these gestures may range from physical help through donations to simple morale boosts through colorful signs and kind words, but I honestly believe that every act of kindness during a time of such darkness and uncertainty goes such a long way…not only for the people on the receiving end of these gestures, but for those of us who need those stories as a reminder that there are bright spots in all of the chaos and uncertainty. 

In my opinion, there’s a fine line between being informed and becoming engrossed into a never-ending cycle of the horror stories that are cropping up as a result of this virus. My suggestion to you would be to seek out these stories that shine a light on the kindness and compassion that people have shown to remind yourself that there is still good in the world despite all of that.

And if you are to find yourself feeling lost or hopeless, the CDC has offered suggestions on ways to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes along with an issue of this magnitude, along with crisis hotlines you can call if things get overwhelming. 

It’s important to remember that we’re all on this ride together, and that — now more than ever — taking care of yourself and your mental health should be a top priority…even if it’s just with a few positive news stories throughout the day. 

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