Monday, March 16, 2020

Anxiety and the Coronavirus

There's no doubt that because of the novel Coronavirus, we are living through a unique and even scary time.As a person who deals with chemical anxiety and depression, my external environment can affect me greatly. I know there are many out there like me, so something like a world-wide pandemic and all the changes and fears associated with it,. can be difficult. Regulating an emotional state when you have large amounts of anxiety on a typical day in our faster, tech oriented life is hard enough. So this post is to acknowledge that there is both reasons to feel anxious, but there is also a panic that can and will affect certain people more than others.

So what can we do? Here's a few thoughts.

1.We have to follow the news to some degree to know what is going on in communities. My advice, whenever possible read the articles rather than listen to an endless dribble of panic-filled rhetoric on 24 hour news stations. Panic makes for ratings, and these channels are a business. They are not worried about your state of mind. They will exploit your emotions for profit. Limit exposure to them, you'll feel more in control, and you'll be more in control.

2. Many places schools, businesses and other places we might normally go will be not safe or closed. Don't just sit at home and stew. Do something constructive. If you wanted to work on on a musical talent, you've got a little extra time. Take some time to read. I've written a few books if you want to choose one:) If you have kids, spend time playing with them. You don't have to spend money to build your relationship. They just want your time.

3. To keep stress at bay, do something kind for someone in your community. You can do this without exposing anyone to the virus. Write a letter and pin it to their door. Pull some of their weeds, or just text or Facetime with people who might feel isolated. When you are focused on others, you'll feel better and they will too.

4.Go outside every day! Our bodies need Vitamin D and our minds need a change of environment. Walk around if you can. You can still stay away from people with out sitting in a dark room.

5. Most of all, remind yourself that this is a temporary situation, a blip in our lives as far as time goes. I am not saying that it is not scary or that the threat is not real. I'm saying that our children will be talking about it in history class and the way we handle it will determine how quickly we rebound as a society. Most of all, it reminds us that life is a gift. We should hold people dear, especially those who don't have a long time to live in general. My mother died of cancer before she was 30. Nothing is certain, but we do have the ability to cherish and find peace and joy in the here and now.

If you want a strange upside to the Coronavirus. It reminds us that we, as human beings, no matter our nationality, gender, or even viewpoints, are part of a larger family. The human family, and this is a great time to show an increased love for those around us. Because nothing chases away fear, faster than love. Be safe all, and know that this will pass.   I love you all.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

My experience with a police shooting

A little over a week ago, something completely unexpected took place in my quiet suburban neighborhood. I want to share with you, not so much "what" happened, but how it affected me, and how society is affected by guns, both good and bad.

So it was a typical Friday night. I stopped by Ross to grab a couple of things for my house. The parking lot was busy, but not packed as I walked back out to my car. The typical hum of cars and people was interrupted by a man's voice screaming out. "Get down! Get down!" Of course, I couldn't help but look in the direction of the verbal command. The tone of the man's voice was terrifying. Not only was it loud, but the tension was thick. Heck, I wanted to drop to the ground. That's the moment that I realized that one isle over,  two officers driving under cover police vehicles had boxed in a car and were trying apprehend a suspect. The suspect in the situation, instead of complying, backed his car into the officer's vehicle and began pushing it back in hopes of escaping. Seconds later, shots were fired. At this point, I didn't have a perfect line of sight, and all I knew was that shots were fired. Then, once again, one of the officers yelled. "Get Down, Get down.!" At that moment, it hit me that they might have been speaking to us, those in the parking lot. I quickly retreated to the entrance of Ross and watched the scene unfold while ready to hide in the store if there was danger. a mother and her teenage daughters were standing in the doorway with me, and we began to talk to one another.
"Those were gun shots, right?" we ask each other. It seemed a surreal thing. Police didn't shoot people in my town, at least not in public. Overhead, a police helicopter circled and in the distance sirens wailed confirming that yes, we'd just witnessed an officer shooting at a suspect. When things were quiet for a minute and I felt comfortable that no madman with a gun was on the loose, I thought it would be best to leave before the police showed up. I didn't want to bog down the parking lot or get stuck in a crime scene when I could see that there were others with a better view than I had to act as witnesses. Besides, there was another woman who looked terrified who had somehow made her way from a car near the shooting and was trying to get out of the situation.
"Can I give you a ride somewhere?" I offered. Odd isn't it, that in crisis, we either turn towards or away from one another. She gratefully accepted my offer to be taken to a different location where her husband would pick her up. She was trembling as I opened the passenger's side door for her.

We exchanged names, but honestly, I don't remember her name but in my mind I can see with perfect clarity her wide eyes and shaking hands. So that is the quick version of my experience. The violence was mild compared to what we see on TV and in the movies and yet it left me genuinely shaken, and not just in the few minutes after I left.

Once I came home, my adrenaline did settle down, but for nearly three days, I found myself thinking about the experience, feeling my stomach knot up whenever i heard the sounds of sirens. I researched the incident on the news. I had to know what happened. My mind struggled to make sense of how I felt. I found myself tensing, even feeling nauseous when I even considered going back to that shopping center which is literally down the road from my house. In fact, I forced myself to go back several days later, to take back my stores and not let the terror of that night control how I felt.

I know this is a long post, but I want to leave with one last thought. I had one scary and shocking night in my typically safe, family neighborhood and it profoundly affected me, at least for a few days and probably every time I return to that store. How then do people feel when gunfire is common their neighborhood, or after a child witnesses a school shooting. Imagine the fear and distrust that develops as a coping mechanism for those who witness violence and death, particularly those can't escape it in their daily lives. Surely, coping mechanisms must develop changing who they are and worst of all, who can will become. And it leaves me with this question, if so many are both physical victims and also emotionally traumatized as witnesses of gun violence, what can be done, and how can we create a better world where our children and we ourselves can feel safe in our homes, neighborhoods and communities. Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Why is everyone so MAD?

I'm writing this post from America and as most people know we are in the middle of a presidential impeachment trial right now. While it is not the only thing of importance happening in the world, social media is littered, sometimes as trashed as a California freeway, with comments, opinions, slanders, and other forms of reaction to what is happening politically in the US. Let me be clear, this post is not about politics. This post is about people.

So, I mention our US political strife because it is symptomatic of an emotional plague that is sweeping, not just the US, but it would appear other parts of the world as well. What name can we give this plague. There are many, but I call it the Angry Plague. In short, people, for whatever reason have drawn a line in the sand, picked a team, chosen a stance, and most of all love to pissed off at anyone who feels differently.

It strikes me as odd really, that in an era where uniqueness and diversity is supposedly celebrated, we have decided that while outwardly we'll be cordial, but then behind the anonymous cloak of the computer screen we turn into frothing, criticism hate monsters. Worst of all, this draw-your-sword-and-get-ready-for-battle philosophy has moved outside the confines of our online lives to our dinner tables, and has seeped into holidays and social events, further alienating us from our own species, not to mention our friends and family.

After watching this phenomenon for a while, I had to ask, why? Why are so many so darn angry and looking for a fight. So I did a little experiment. I started lurking around Quora and Reddit watching the patterns, noticing what set people off. I talked to family and friends about why they were so quick to back their particular tribe whether it be politics, or ideologies. Here are a few things I noticed.

1. Most online threads that started with civil discourse, quickly(usually within five comments) degraded to name calling and cruel attacks. Once everyone stated their point, and took their corners, no real conversation or exchange of ideas followed.

2. In most online debates/arguments, rational thought goes out the windows. Everyone has a point to prove, but very few people if any are asking legitimate questions to learn more. In other words, there is far more talking than listening. Once, I ask someone to tell me why they felt so passionate about a particular topic in a Quora thread. They ignored my question and went on bashing others views on forum. 

3. When someone disagrees with a given point, it quickly spirals into belittling behaviors or name calling.  Then tempers flare, and it gets really mean.

4. Finally, I noticed that the general philosophy out there is that if you don't agree with the person who makes a comment or attacks, that you must be stupid, or a lesser individual.

So why are we so mad? I don't know. There is lots injustice in the world, people are hurting, but I don't think that is it. I think that for alot  reasons is easier to be mad, and because we don't see the repercussions right away, we don't feel the consequences of our thoughtless and cruel banter online and even in person. Imagine if we spoke to our spouses or friends the way we talk to faceless strangers on Social Media. Our marriages and friendships would fail, sooner than later and our misery would mushroom and grow.

But the thing is, when we show no respect to others, when critique and belittle, we are hurting each other. People have been disgruntled and angry forever, but in days gone by we were taught to show general respect for one another. Here's a fun idea, go on line, and try to build up someone, not because they agree with you, but because all this anger is poison, and we in many places including on social media and drinking it up in gulps.  Here's another idea, next time you feel compelled to verbally punch someone on line, imagine punching them in the face. It is the same.  All this rage. All this division. Like a poison, I really believe it will kill us, at least the love we share on this big beautiful blue planet. And no one, no politician, no ideological leader, no small group of people can fix it. We, a the human race must decide that we can disagree, but still work together respectfully. Anyone else think this would be a good idea? Anyone else have suggestions, disagreements, or can add to these thoughts. I genuinely would love to hear!