A few months ago, I was reading the news about something terrible that happened in my hometown, and I remember thinking: ‘Wow, the world really needs more empathy’. Little did I know that, in my lifetime, I would witness how much a little bit of empathy can change, literally, the whole world… Let me go back in time to explain my point.
Anxiety. Disability. Obesity. Three things that I have personally, or closely, lived by my whole life: I have a brother with a motor disability and post stress traumatic disorder, we are both overweight, and I have an anxiety disorder and excessive stress. And, just to be clear, we are ok with that, and we have learned to deal with it! But, until now, a lot of people around us were not. What have changed? A little tiny virus called COVID-19, and more specifically, the need to stay home and be patient.
See? Empathy. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is what finally makes people understand that anxiety is real, that eating a lot is not as easy to avoid and control, and that living with stress is definitely not fun. Being isolated or limited to move around a small and enclosed space is not nice, and even more, it is quite frustrating to be told you cannot go outside just because of your age (or any other condition, for that matter). Unfortunately, it took a pandemic crisis like the one we are living to understand that there are a lot of people in the world who live like this every single day — and they are not taken seriously for it. But there is a silver lining: now that we are in everyone else’s shoes, we can finally change the way we see and treat each other. Empathy, after all, will make a difference in the world.
And about anxiety, what can we do? I recently read an article by Dr. Luis Alejandro Nagy, Psychoanalyst (Dr L, Nagy. 2020, personal communication, January), who put everything into a new perspective for me: “trying to know the unknown, or should I say, forcing ourselves to know the unknown = anxiety”. — It finally makes sense for me!
“With the development of the pandemic, uncertainty has become our constant companion. This is the reason why anxiety is increasing: we cannot sleep well, we have nightmares, we eat more (or less) than usual, we worry about lots of different things that we cannot control. We think too much because we want to be able to foresee the future, but we can’t, it is unknown”.
Is there a cure for such a strong feeling? Dr. Nagy recommends what most specialists do, too: “Try to keep your thoughts here, and now. Accepting uncertainty allows us to remain present at the moment”. And knowing that we cannot know everything, is what will bring us peace.
Finally, let me remind you that you can count on the support workers from the DASH family! Remember: we are all in this together, and we, more than ever, are here for you! Empathy… is all we need!
By: Tania M. Ruelas Bernes | Campeche, México.