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Really helpful article on mental surge capacity during pandemic


cintinative
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SWB posted this on FB, so some of you might have seen it.

It puts words to a lot of the things I have personally struggled with.

https://elemental.medium.com/your-surge-capacity-is-depleted-it-s-why-you-feel-awful-de285d542f4c

"Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters."

"“The pandemic has demonstrated both what we can do with surge capacity and the limits of surge capacity,” says Masten. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed. But what happens when you struggle to renew it because the emergency phase has now become chronic?"

" 'I think we maybe underestimate how severe the adversity is and that people may be experiencing a normal reaction to a pretty severe and ongoing, unfolding, cascading disaster,' Masten says. 'It’s important to recognize that it’s normal in a situation of great uncertainty and chronic stress to get exhausted and to feel ups and downs, to feel like you’re depleted or experience periods of burnout.' "

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This was helpful for me today, thank you for sharing.

I really appreciate aspects of the article as I have been through a lot of loss and upending of normalcy prior to COVID, and some of the “ways forward” from this article do indeed ring true. 

Ten months prior to COVID, I sustained a head injury and subsequent complications that thrust me into a world of complex, chronic illness, and necessitated the loss of my small business.  This article addresses several of the issues I have had to begin to work through —namely, previously being go getter/Type A who cannot approach life that way anymore and  how to cope with problems that have no solutions.  

The ambiguous losses with COVID are somehow easier for me to deal with because they are happening to to ALL of us.  We have family around the globe and it has affected everyone- even remote villages in India where everyone has internet signal but not necessarily indoor running water.  While this is painful and devastating. I find comfort not being “the only person I know” facing these ambiguous losses and it gives context to how COVID affects is all differently, based on socioeconomic standing. 

I believe the article could have expanded to acknowledge that some people have been financially devastated by COVID- not coping by treating themselves to eating out or using a meal delivery system.  Yes, these changes and losses of normalcy are profound and significant but that in greater context most people reading that kind of article are likely insulated from significant hardship by privilege or simple luck- and have not been significantly financially impacted by COVID. The fact that the financial aspect wasn’t mentioned at all is what signals privilege to me, because it is a reality for millions and millions of people.  ( I am most certainly the only person know in a meaningful capacity who has lost a business due to COVID)

Also, while yes- we deal with these changes within ourselves and need to rely on spectacular inner resources that need replenishment, we can draw incredible strength from within the context of community- as all of our friends, co workers and family members are facing significant upheaval as well. That is a significant boost as opposed to going through it alone. 
 

I liked “If you stay in the rational when nothing else is rational, like right now, then you’ll just stress yourself more,” she says. “What I say with ambiguous loss is the situation is crazy, not the person. The situation is pathological, not the person.”

This is how I, LarlaB, have coped.  I have watched Drs and therapists be taken aback by my bullet points from the severe challenges of my life over the last 15 months of my life.  I can never tire of hearing validation that the circumstances I have dealt with are overwhelming and crazy. 
 

I also liked:

“Our new normal is always feeling a little off balance, like trying to stand in a dinghy on rough seas, and not knowing when the storm will pass. But humans can get better at anything with practice, so at least I now have some ideas for working on my sea legs.”

That is also a helpful way to name what we are experiencing. When trying to stand in the dinghy for the first time, we will likely quickly sit back down. But in time we grow in our ability to accomplish this!

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My husband shared this article with me last night, and I found it particularly comforting. In addition to all the Covid “mess,” our family had gone through a period of about two years of transition, including all of our children going to school (and half of our children changing schools after one year) , me going back to work teaching (and changing from private to public school after one year), and our family moving.   When I wonder why I’m so tired, my husband has to remind me that in addition to Covid, we’ve had a lot of change, which is exhausting. 

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4 hours ago, LarlaB said:

This was helpful for me today, thank you for sharing.

I really appreciate aspects of the article as I have been through a lot of loss and upending of normalcy prior to COVID, and some of the “ways forward” from this article do indeed ring true. 

Ten months prior to COVID, I sustained a head injury and subsequent complications that thrust me into a world of complex, chronic illness, and necessitated the loss of my small business.  This article addresses several of the issues I have had to begin to work through —namely, previously being go getter/Type A who cannot approach life that way anymore and  how to cope with problems that have no solutions.  

The ambiguous losses with COVID are somehow easier for me to deal with because they are happening to to ALL of us.  We have family around the globe and it has affected everyone- even remote villages in India where everyone has internet signal but not necessarily indoor running water.  While this is painful and devastating. I find comfort not being “the only person I know” facing these ambiguous losses and it gives context to how COVID affects is all differently, based on socioeconomic standing. 

I believe the article could have expanded to acknowledge that some people have been financially devastated by COVID- not coping by treating themselves to eating out or using a meal delivery system.  Yes, these changes and losses of normalcy are profound and significant but that in greater context most people reading that kind of article are likely insulated from significant hardship by privilege or simple luck- and have not been significantly financially impacted by COVID. The fact that the financial aspect wasn’t mentioned at all is what signals privilege to me, because it is a reality for millions and millions of people.  ( I am most certainly the only person know in a meaningful capacity who has lost a business due to COVID)

Also, while yes- we deal with these changes within ourselves and need to rely on spectacular inner resources that need replenishment, we can draw incredible strength from within the context of community- as all of our friends, co workers and family members are facing significant upheaval as well. That is a significant boost as opposed to going through it alone. 
 

I liked “If you stay in the rational when nothing else is rational, like right now, then you’ll just stress yourself more,” she says. “What I say with ambiguous loss is the situation is crazy, not the person. The situation is pathological, not the person.”

This is how I, LarlaB, have coped.  I have watched Drs and therapists be taken aback by my bullet points from the severe challenges of my life over the last 15 months of my life.  I can never tire of hearing validation that the circumstances I have dealt with are overwhelming and crazy. 
 

I also liked:

“Our new normal is always feeling a little off balance, like trying to stand in a dinghy on rough seas, and not knowing when the storm will pass. But humans can get better at anything with practice, so at least I now have some ideas for working on my sea legs.”

That is also a helpful way to name what we are experiencing. When trying to stand in the dinghy for the first time, we will likely quickly sit back down. But in time we grow in our ability to accomplish this!

Love your post.  I am nodding yes and crying.   This has affected me emotionally in ways that come and go.  Some I probably am not even aware of yet.  It hits me in waves too.  Or if I am having trouble mentally with something I wonder if it is from the long term stress of this.  I wonder how I will be changed from this.  In the start I worried I would become OCD, because of the disenffecting the food and packaging.   It was driving me to a place.   

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5 hours ago, hopeistheword said:

My husband shared this article with me last night, and I found it particularly comforting. In addition to all the Covid “mess,” our family had gone through a period of about two years of transition, including all of our children going to school (and half of our children changing schools after one year) , me going back to work teaching (and changing from private to public school after one year), and our family moving.   When I wonder why I’m so tired, my husband has to remind me that in addition to Covid, we’ve had a lot of change, which is exhausting. 

Adding to this is the idea that we can only hold so much in our heads at once and "coping with life" can take up massive amounts of space. This means that we will forget things (even important things) and make more mistakes than usual. And that's normal. We need to give ourselves and other grace for these things.

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This was a good thing to re-read.

I’ve thrown myself into lots of projects these past few months, and we’ve had lots of emotional disruptions on top of all the COVID. Having all of these projects was actually giving me quiet time to process things when I wanted to process, and distraction when I wanted distraction.  But today, while reaching the end of my rope doing work on my antique dining table, I hit a wall. I’m mid-project on several other things, and so is dh (while simultaneously managing hurricane recovery projects through the holiday weekend.). And I’m just... done.  I can’t deal right now. I’m tapped out.

I’ll figure out how to at least tidy up some of the mess tomorrow, but I’m mostly going to lay around and do nothing. When I have the energy, I’ll try to reprioritize the overwhelming mountain I’ve buried myself under!

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7 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

This was a good thing to re-read.

I’ve thrown myself into lots of projects these past few months, and we’ve had lots of emotional disruptions on top of all the COVID. Having all of these projects was actually giving me quiet time to process things when I wanted to process, and distraction when I wanted distraction.  But today, while reaching the end of my rope doing work on my antique dining table, I hit a wall. I’m mid-project on several other things, and so is dh (while simultaneously managing hurricane recovery projects through the holiday weekend.). And I’m just... done.  I can’t deal right now. I’m tapped out.

I’ll figure out how to at least tidy up some of the mess tomorrow, but I’m mostly going to lay around and do nothing. When I have the energy, I’ll try to reprioritize the overwhelming mountain I’ve buried myself under!

I'm struggling with finishing things too.

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Today is the 4th anniversary of my dh's sudden death.  I am struggling so much more this year than last year.  Last year I had finally come to the point of remembering the good instead of focusing on his death.  I had reconnected with childhood friends and our plans were to get together on a regular basis and I was really looking forward to that.  Once the pandemic and lockdowns started, all that came to a screeching halt.  I have struggled mentally these past few months.  I feel like I've been taken back to the first stages of grief.  To some extent its been that way for my kids too, especially my 22 yo dd.  My 17 you son was just 13 when his dad passed.  He's had a rough time. He was finally getting to the point where he wanted, or more like needed, to be active again.  He had joined a Ultimate Frisbee team.  The played one game in early March and then everything got lockdowned.  It has not been good for his mental health. It's been a very rough day today for all of us.  I really think this is a result of the pandemic.  I have had to make the hard decisions of what we do or not do by myself and I don't like it.  It's alot of pressure.

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21 minutes ago, Teresa in MO said:

Today is the 4th anniversary of my dh's sudden death.  I am struggling so much more this year than last year.  Last year I had finally come to the point of remembering the good instead of focusing on his death.  I had reconnected with childhood friends and our plans were to get together on a regular basis and I was really looking forward to that.  Once the pandemic and lockdowns started, all that came to a screeching halt.  I have struggled mentally these past few months.  I feel like I've been taken back to the first stages of grief.  To some extent its been that way for my kids too, especially my 22 yo dd.  My 17 you son was just 13 when his dad passed.  He's had a rough time. He was finally getting to the point where he wanted, or more like needed, to be active again.  He had joined a Ultimate Frisbee team.  The played one game in early March and then everything got lockdowned.  It has not been good for his mental health. It's been a very rough day today for all of us.  I really think this is a result of the pandemic.  I have had to make the hard decisions of what we do or not do by myself and I don't like it.  It's alot of pressure.

Sending some hugs your way.  I am so sorry that covid is affecting you in that way.

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When SWB posted that article the other day, it really helped me put into words how I've been feeling lately. I have always struggled with anxiety, but now I think I'm adding depression into the mix. DH and I talked today and we have some really practical plans to hopefully help me navigate this.

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