While living in the middle of a global pandemic, one thing is certain, these times are like no other. As a licensed professional counselor (LPC), I have heard firsthand from clients how COVID-19 has impacted their lives and how they have dealt with the related stressors. Not surprisingly, I heard about their personal struggles, but I also heard about victories clients experienced during this season of isolation. Clients shared their struggles and victories in very real ways that should give us all hope.
A number of clients expressed that, while living in isolation from their support systems such as friends and family, they became increasingly anxious and depressed and some even turned to or relapsed with drugs and alcohol. But I also learned how some of these same clients found the resiliency to attend sober support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), religious services, and other structured meetings to maintain their sobriety. On the flipside, some clients expressed how being in isolation provided a time of self-reflection, and a time to focus on their family and their own personal growth. In the midst of this pandemic, they developed new coping skills that helped them manage their anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. They did this by finding new ways of coping such as taking advantage of teletherapy, being more intentional about engaging in outside activities, or by creating a smaller support system and investing in them.
Those clients who lost their main source of income shared that, while difficult, they either found other employment or developed the skills to successfully complete the process to receive unemployment. Many of them were asked to do their jobs differently and, in some cases, work from home while having to find a new routine of raising and educating their children. While adapting to this “new normal” was stressful, they also found ways to make it work. What I’ve learned is there were just as many clients who shared how COVID-19 was a time of growth and encouragement for them, learning to slow down and let go of the idea of perfection, as there were those who saw it as only a struggle.
It was clear to me as a clinical therapist that when a person’s world is completely reshaped due to situations beyond their control, the human spirit is stronger than we ever imagined. And there are opportunities to seek and receive the help you need. Things may never go back to normal as we know it, or even close to what it was before COVID-19, but one thing is for sure. The resiliency that people demonstrate during hard times is not only encouraging but should give us all hope.
Leslie Fern, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor at The Willow Center and can be reached at 419-720-5800.