This is an open letter to all mental health professionals who have been working throughout the pandemic, holding the anxiety of others while trying to manage our own, watching the isolation chip away at clients’ progress, feeling the Zoom Drain both physically and mentally.
We all went into this line of work because we wanted to help people and now is the time where we are needed the most. There will be a mental health crisis that comes out of this pandemic – at this point, it has already started – and our clinical resolve and ability to stay fully present with clients is being put to the test. Most people are not thinking about how this impacts those in our field; we are not thought of as front-line workers. Attention and resources are understandably focused on the medical professionals who are fighting COVID-19 face-to-face every shift. This does not negate the work we are putting in but it often leaves us feeling invisible.
I thought about writing a paragraph about combatting this invisibility but realized that we do not need to necessarily combat it, but instead lean into the emotions that arise when we feel unseen during this pandemic-entrenched world. While the anxiety and uncertainty leave me with uncomfortable physical sensations, the helplessness I feel is probably the emotion that I find most challenging to tolerate. I feel helpless that there is nothing I can do to change this situation. I feel helpless that the media and politicians do not focus enough on mental health issues during “normal” times, never mind their lack of interest in it now. I feel helpless with how difficult it is to convey to my support network what it is like to be a therapist right now. I feel helpless when clients struggle with the isolation of quarantine and start to use maladaptive coping skills to get through each day. I feel helpless when I wrap up my day and the Zoom drain hits me and I can’t be there for my loved ones. It’s almost like I’m just feeling all the time. I’m exhausted.
So to my fellow therapists out there – I see you. I appreciate you. We will all get through this together.