Last week I wrote about one side of the pandemic, which is personally affecting my family and me at the moment. This time I want to touch the other side – I want to say of the coin, but I’m afraid this coin has more than two sides.
My very good friend’s brother committed suicide a couple of weeks ago. He was a very young man, an entrepreneur, a bit of a blogger. Even though not all family members were living close to each other, the notion of a family, in general, was always valuable. While there could have been some hiccups due to the generally shaky economy, the family and he personally were financially stable.
Yes, he had an unsuccessful relationship a while ago, but we tend to ascribe the broken heart suicides to teenagers. He was way past that age. Besides, it sounded like even though his heart was in pain, it wasn’t broken after all.
That happened in Russia as well, where the situation with COVID and related restrictions is pretty different. On the one hand, the number of cases and death is much higher, and hospitals are steadily overwhelmed (pretty much alike with the U.S.). On the other hand, there are fewer restrictions in place and even though a lot of things are going differently, by all means, they are not on a lockdown (for example, a birthday party of 25-30 people in a restaurant is a completely normal thing there).
I guess the main sources of stress for most families, no matter what their level of income is, would be health, the economy and unemployment.
Now, if I say that it was the pandemic, or the virus, or the uncertainty that’s been in the air since last winter, that affected that young man and forced him to commit suicide, it will be a total stipulation. I don’t think even his family has a firm answer as to why he did it. But unfortunately, this is not the only suicide in my bigger circle lately. And it made me think if this would have happened, if the world around wasn’t as crazy as it’s been for the past nine months?
Alberta Premier Jason Kenny last week, responding to a question about why the province pretty overwhelmed with new cases and deaths, isn’t implementing a new lockdown, touched on the bigger picture, including liberties, people’s ability to put food on the table as well as drug abuse statistics. He pointed out that so far this year the number of deaths of people over 65 is below the five-year average, but it’s way above the average for those younger than 65, and there is a rise in opioid-related deaths, which they believe is indirectly related to the pandemic.
On the other side, Manitoba implemented an almost full lockdown last week, shutting down most non-essential businesses, religious facilities, restricting gatherings and travel, but keeping the schools going.
Both reactions have their supporters and those who were upset with decisions made. But I feel that in both situations as well as in other provinces and countries where different measures are taken, the situation with mental health, in general, is alarming.
A lot of negativity in the talks related to mental health usually is against governments applying restrictions to different communities or businesses changing their rules. I don’t think it’s fair to blame anyone trying to navigate through this crazy, chaotic situation and trying to protect our well-being. But I also can’t deny the fact that even my positive-focused mind has been trembling on regular basis since last February.
I'm speaking for myself here. I never had problems breathing or claustrophobia or general problems adjusting to some new behaviours (otherwise I probably wouldn’t take on the challenge of settling in the new country). In my case, I know for sure that it’s not about masks or restrictions (I always remember it too shall pass and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger). But because there is hardly any clarity in anything, sometimes it feels like an ocean with no cost to be seen and no tools to navigate, and even a strong mind may start burning out eventually.
I think it’s the general instability that makes me feel miserable every so often. Be it lockdown or new restrictions, a new wave of cases or some complications of the disease, bad news from loved ones or a general spike in world numbers. There is nobody to blame for it, as we all are facing something new and we all are in an experimenting phase. But to keep myself above the ground, no matter what the situation is, I need something or someone to lean on to find the balance. That was my main task throughout the last months, and so far I’ve been successful.
P.S. For those of you who were asking about my family, there are some good and not-so-good news. Dad, brother and his girlfriend are still in quarantine, but after the first symptoms including fever, weakness and loss of smell faded off, they have been feeling relatively fine. Mom has pneumonia. At the time of writing this piece, it was not too bad, but she was feeling really sick. They all are monitored by the doctor and are staying positive. Thank you for your support!