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The Bright Side of These Bleak Times

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

"How are you going to see the good in this?" has been a constant question I've asked myself through all the suffering and pivotal moments I've experienced. At times, I've forgotten to first meet myself and my wounds with compassion, instead rushing to the optimistic perspective that called to me. I believe they call this "toxic positivity". Nevertheless, it has been a question that has served me well in my healing journey... when I've been able to give myself a satisfying response, of course.

For those of us with mental conditions, isolation is not new. However, having no option but to isolate is a lot different. It takes away the choice of socializing or going out on your "good mental health" days. Speaking from personal experience, simply knowing that you have options can uplift your mental state. Having to force ourselves to stay inside when one of our reliable coping techniques might have been to surround ourselves with our support systems is tough, to say the least.

Now, as we slowly get back to being outside, it can feel extremely vulnerable and nerve wracking. The optimistic perspective I'd like to offer you here is that you are not alone in feeling this way. It's understandable, now more than ever, that you might be anxious in public. You don't have to mask your social anxiety symptoms. Everyone on some level feels the anxiety of going back to "normal". Maybe instead of hiding this (which usually creates more stress), we can use it as an opportunity for connection. To bond over the fact that we all feel the immense stress caused by uncertainty. Maybe we can truly empathize with one another rather than pretending like we're a-ok all the time.

It's valid to have the desire to return to your "autopilot normal"- whether that's going back to your 9-5, or regaining control of your daily routine. After all, our nervous system yearns for what is familiar + safe & not necessarily what benefits us. But maybe we can see that "normal" has always been an illusion because a norm in one circumstance is an extreme in another. At a larger scale, our world has been anything but normal- especially for those who have been striving to change the inequalities we have been desensitized to. This can be a turning point where we learn to be more inclusive & accepting of each other.

If seizing these opportunities for positive change seems like too much right now, just try being open to it. I'm realising that I don't always have to ask myself the age-old "how am I going to see the good?" question, especially when there are difficult feelings that require my compassionate attention. Ironically, this is an opportunity in itself: to witness the bleak state of the world that we've played some part in contributing to, without letting it consume our hope. Our collective hope is a powerful force that can shed light on the darkest of times! I hope you can remember that when it all feels like too much.

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