Mental Health and Crisis Information During the Pandemic

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From Rep. Jerry Nadler. Some items may be constituent specific, but other information is applicable to all. Coronavirus Resources

AA Online Meetings

Crisis Text Line (Twitter)

COVID-19 Resources for Undocumented Communities

How Not to Let the Coronavirus Steal Your Mental Health While You’re at Home

Daily Quarantine QuestionsMary DeTurris Poust

Is There a Right Way to Worry about Coronavirus? And Other Mental Health Tips

Is My Chest Tightness Anxiety or the Coronavirus?

Suicide Prevention – 800-273-8255

Substance Abuse/Mental Health Helpline – 1-800-662-4357

Sexual Assault Hotline – 800-656-7233

Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233

Crisis Text Line – Text HELLO to 741741

Podcasts – Ongoing, Information, and Interviews with Experts

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Epidemic. Hosted by Dr. Celine Gounder and former Ebola response Coordinator, Ronald Klain. New episodes every Friday.

America Dissected: Coronavirus with Dr. Abdul el-Sayed. New pods will be broadcast on Tuesdays and Fridays. (added 3/13/20)

What a Day – 15 minutes of news and politics, including current covid-19 information. Hosted by Gideon Resnick and Akilah Hughes

Interviews with Ron Klain

Campaign HQ with David Plouffe

Interviews with Andy Slavitt

Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara

The Al Franken Podcast

Who to Follow on Social Media

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Updated 3/27/20

Twitter

Dr. Celine Gounder

Ronald Klain
Dr. Scott Gottlieb (added 3/9/20)

Dr. Abdul el-Sayed (added 3/13/20)

CDC – I have serious concerns about the information coming out of the CDC based on Dr. Brix’s false statements this week. Please be wary and use good judgment. (added 3/27/20)

CDC-Emergency
NIH
WHO (World Health Organization)

Richard Engel

Epidemic Science & Health list on Twitter compiled by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (added 3/5/20)

Chef Jose Andres – he’s on the frontline of getting food to the people in disaster relief

Andy Slavitt

Asaf Bitton

NY Governor

Speaker Nancy Pelosi – for updates on coronavirus related legislation

Where Can I Help?

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So many people already need help, and some of us are in the position to offer that help. I am personally not recommending any of the following groups. I do not know their charity or non-profit status. What I have done is taken the original poster into account and I’ve gone to the website to see that it appears legitimate. Use your own judgment, and do not give more than you can afford.

I will continue to add as new ones come to my attention. (Updated 3/26/20)

Broadway Cares COVID-19 Emergency Fund for health care, emergency financial assistance, and counseling during this pandemic (onstage and behind the scenes)

CDC Foundation

City Harvest – NYC

Coronavirus Relief Fund – split between Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, CDC Foundation, and Direct Relief.

Direct Relief – disaster relief

Feeding America

Food Banks Canada

God’s Love We Deliver – non-sectarian. Food tailored to medical needs of clients.

Homeless Shelter Directory – to help those in your community, look up shelters near you and donate directly.

Invisible Hands Deliver – NYC & some environs, some NJ

Meals on Wheels

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Low Income Housing Coalition

No Kid Hungry

Project Angel Food – meals and nutrition help for people who are battling illness.

Restaurant Workers Community Foundation

NEW WHO Solidarity Response Fund (World Health Organization)

World Central Kitchen

Leap Day All Year

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Leap Day is one of those exiting days on the calendar. It’s extra. It’s special. What are we going to do with our extra twenty-four hours?

I had thoughts.

I had plans.

In the end, I had nothing.

And Leap Day is nearly about to fade into the not-so-distant past until the next one arrives in 2024.

But then I had a thought – 

What if we had an extra day every month for the rest of the year?

I saw this idea in a book a couple of years ago; it’s like having a mental health day, something I firmly believe in.

Open up your calendar. Start with March. Close your eyes and randomly pick a date. Is anything already scheduled? No? Good. Put a little star or asterisk or sticker in the box. That’s your Leap Day for March.

Now, turn the calendar to April, and do it again. And again in May. Go through all the rest of the year. If you do it now and mark the days, each month’s special day will come as a surprise for you when you turn to the new month.
What will you do on these Leap Days? Whatever you like!

Take yourself out for lunch.

Go to the movies.

Read a book.

Take a bubble bath.

Have a glass of wine (or mug of tea; whatever you fancy.)

Journal.

Go for a walk.

Call a friend.

As I enjoy my Leap Days, I’ll add more suggestions over time. Offer yours in comments below.

Happy Holidays!

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This won’t publish until tomorrow morning, but as I write this it is many things for many people today: it’s the day after Christmas, which makes it the First Day of Christmas. It is also the fifth night of Chanukah. It is Boxing Day. It is the first day of Kwanzaa. Please add your holidays in the comments, and I can add them to my yearly calendar for next year.

I had so many intentions for writing and publishing last week, and part of the week before, including a a reflection on gratitude, a short commentary on something my priest said during a homily about everyday is Thanksgiving or at least the opportunity for thanksgiving, the emotional legacy I feel for the new Star Wars movie as well as something Supernatural finale related, holiday photos of our family’s menorah and Christmas tree as well as other shared instagram-type posts. The one thing I really tried to get done was a special Mental Health Monday before Christmas with ways to avoid holiday stress.

Instead of writing about it, and offering some advice I decided to take my unwritten as of yet advice, and not worry about writing and posting (among a few household things). For one thing, every time I looked at my ever increasing list of writing projects, I blanked. I closed the computer or the Kindle, and I walked away. There were presents to be wrapped, cards to be mailed (which had its own special stress for the lateness that they were received by me and losing my address book), our tree wasn’t up yet, our stove wasn’t working and I wasn’t sure how we were going to prepare Christmas dinner*. I tried to write to avoid the stress of the holidays that were on a timeline, and in making an editorial timeline at this time was really stressing me out. Each time I postponed a day’s planned posting, it increased my stress. And this isn’t why I write. While there is good and valuable stress that comes with my writing choices, this last week and some days was truly giving me bad, debilitating stress.

Once I made the decision to not write until after Christmas Day I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

There are six days left to this year, and it’s been quite a year. It is not only a year ending, but an entire decade. It’s kind of a big deal. I will write again before the New Year and then after as I discover which direction I want to travel in with my writing.

My advice for the rest of this week is:

SLOW DOWN.
BREATHE.
TAKE TIME FOR YOU. If you’re working, spend your break times eating, hydrating, meditating, reading or whatever it is that you do for you. At home, take time for you. You’ve worked hard all year; take a little time for yourself.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and have a Blessed and Peaceful upcoming New Year.

*A quick note on these things:

The presents got wrapped.

The cards we ordered from an online photo card store didn’t come, but we did receive another family’s cards. It took a little longer to get our own cards, but we did. No big deal, and an unavoidable delay. I sent the cards out in waves, and it turned out all good.

I found my address book that has ALL of my addresses.

We got our tree and lights up. My son put his Santa hat on the top, and it looks very cute.

Our oven hasn’t worked for months and we are buying a new stove. Unfortunately, it won’t be delivered until the weekend. (My son is already planning on baking a pizza the first night!) Fortunately, a generous friend offered us her countertop convection oven, and Christmas dinner was saved!

It all works out in the end, doesn’t it.

Mental Health Monday – Setback

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​A week or so ago, a man I follow on political Twitter had a rough couple of days. I left some supportive comments, and liked a few extra posts because I know how far that can go when you’re reaching out. I know he’s going to be okay, and so does he. Setbacks happen. I’ve said for a long time that depression and anxiety is very much a constant state of recovery. I can’t compare it to a 12-step program as I’ve never done one, but there is the continuity of keeping yourself healthy and remaining self-aware when things change.  There are ups and downs as there are for people who do not have depression or anxiety disorders or issues. All life is a roller coaster ride, and for some of us all we want is the merry-go-round or the slow train around the park.

Before I was diagnosed I didn’t know what was going on. It was unsettling to say the least. After diagnosis it took several weeks to begin to feel better; to recover. The meds didn’t work, then they worked too well; finding a happy medium takes time and patience, and depression is many things, but one thing depression is not is patient. I didn’t feel it at the time, but I was very lucky. Once I got through the initial couple of months of doctor’s check-ups, medication, weekly and bi-weekly talk therapy, and whatever other coping tools I amassed in my toolbox, I was more or less good; not all good, and by no means perfect, but steady. I remained noticeably self-aware of how I was feeling, checking in with myself and paying attention to what I needed. It’s been seven years.

And then about a week ago, I got hit with something. There was nothing gradual or building up to it, and I’m still at the tail end of it today, but there is was: setback. Although setback may be the wrong characterization. I’ve had low moments, but in the course of a year, depression as sad or disappointed is really quite regular. I’ve recognized the situations, and adjusted. This was different. Ironically, it also occurred after my regular therapy appointment. I could probably go back sooner, but there wasn’t really anything new to talk about. I’m in a rut. I will muddle through. It will pass.

But it hasn’t passed; not all the way yet. I can feel myself moving towards the light, but it’s the third week of November, our Thanksgiving plans are still in flux, I have no idea what to get my family (or my son’s girlfriend) for Christmas, my house is a disaster, my papers are too abundant, and writing this part and re-reading it reminds me that this isn’t that weird for any other person out there, with or without depression.

I felt the lethargy first. Then the wanting to just stay in bed and sleep; a different type of lethargy. I got up every morning with headaches for several days in a row. Apathy set in. One minute I was excited about Nanowrimo, the next I was uninspired and not at all caring about writing anything, let alone working on my book(s). If I had an appointment, I kept it. It got me out of bed, and gradually, I’m getting back into my groove.

The first thing I did was recognize whatever this was. I checked myself. I was not suicidal. I knew that. I could feel that. As deep as this felt, it was survivable, and I could handle it. I did not need an emergency intervention. (Others may, and that’s okay. We all need to do what works for us to maintain our recovery.) I chose to stay away from certain political sites, but still remained in the informational loop. I became very picky on what I let into my sphere. I put aside all but four of my podcasts so I could better use the time I had carved out where I wasn’t lying in bed. I tried to read (Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, which I did read, and finished it despite having to stop just to be so very angry about the content). 

I kept my morning routine: taking medicine, reading the day’s [Thomas] Merton, listening to What a Day podcast to get the overnight news (and bonus they do more than politics). I forced myself to meet all of my obligations: driving the kids, planning dinner, blog planning, praying. Then on top of that, as I thought I might be surfacing, I got sick last weekend with some kind of twenty-four hour bug, and I wallowed. I allowed myself to be sick, to stay in bed, to do what I needed to do to get well. I was at a church breakfast, and instead of soldiering through, I called my husband to come pick me up. I didn’t talk myself out of taking care of myself and letting my family fend for themselves. I didn’t worry about what I could let go of. Easier said than done, I know.

I didn’t try to why myself and analyze why I was so down, so deep in a hole. I just accepted it; briefly.

And everyday, I got up, I checked in with myself, accepted I was still in the hole, and thought about what I could do to keep living until it passed. I did consider that I might need to adjust my medication, but I wasn’t sure that was something I wanted to do at the stressful holiday season. I do have a doctor’s appointment in a couple of weeks, followed by a therapy session, and I know I can get through these weeks until then. I’ve found that just having the days on the calendar is a asset to my mental state.

I know that so many people go through these feelings, these moments of self-doubt, undermining and self-sabotage that taking away the stigma and talking about depression and the inevitable setback benefits many. But I think I’ve gotten over this bump.

What are some of the ways you get through your ruts?