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All in this together, so reach out to someone

Friends care about friends.

With that in mind, how are you holding up these days?

I’ll be honest with you. If you asked me that question this week, I would share with you, “Not all that well.”

The stress of trying to be a magician and keep finding rabbits in my hat to keep the newspaper on an even keel has taken its toll on me. Tuesday, I spent two hours in Zoom meetings at work, only to spend another two-and-a-half hours on another video meeting in the evening. The stress of trying to balance responsibilities at work with priorities at home was wearing thin, and it began to show.

And, for good measure, my mother ended up in the emergency room at a hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Thursday morning.

Yup, there has been more than enough stress in my life right now, as far as I am concerned.

And I suspect I’m not alone.

Sheltering at home wears thin after a certain point, and that point was passed long ago for many of us. What once seemed like an unexpected respite has turned into a frustrating exercise in patience. There are only so many walls in a house that can be painted — unless, of course, you really want to start the process all over again.

I have discovered that I am a person whose personality is such that I have to be in control. Even when things are going great in my life, I still am thinking in my mind what potential pitfalls could derail my happiness, and then I work through in my brain how I could try and prevent those from happening.

In good times, being such a “control freak” is frustrating. In times like these, where you and I have control over just about nothing, it is exacerbating.

In a newspaper story on Friday done by the Ogden Newspapers COVID-19 Reporting Team, Dr. Stephanie Rushton, a behavioral health physician from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, addressed the importance of maintaining positive mental health during times like these.

Rushton said many of the new patients she’s taken on in recent months who had a history with mental health concerns were doing well until the pandemic. The levels of uncertainty that came with it caused challenges to resurface for some of them.

“The anxiety is there for safety and health,” Rushton said. “We tend to function the best when we have routine, consistency and predictability. The fact that there’s so much of the situation that we can’t control, people are struggling coping with that.”

People are concerned with their health. People are concerned about their jobs. People want to connect with others but can’t because of state restrictions.

Dr. Dean Aslinia, a psychotherapist with the University of Phoenix, said the stress surrounding the loss of control and the uncertainty created by the pandemic can be overwhelming even for those who have never experienced mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

My point to sharing those thoughts today is to validate the feelings of anxiety and frustration that many people are suffering from right now. You are not alone, and you do not have to question your sanity because of them.

I would encourage all of us, especially now, to keep in touch with our friends. Keep in communication with them through phone call, email or note. Let them know you care, that you’re thinking of them or praying for them.

Stay in touch.

We are all in this together. We all have friends.

Today, let’s reach out to someone and surprise them with a smile.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.

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