I’m a therapist and Omicron is tearing me apart

As we make the transition to 2022, I would like to acknowledge out loud that I am tired. Covid reminded me that it’s time to re-root inside my resilience toolbox to better manage my feelings that are emerging around the carpet of hope and normalcy that have recently been removed.

The arrival of Omicron has shocked me emotionally, which took me a while to fully realize. Overall, I stayed on the ground during the ripples of Covid’s last few years. My family was safe and we were all able to adjust well. That’s why I’m grateful because I know not everyone had that experience. I settled into a new “normalcy,” adapted my face-to-face practice online, and offered therapy to a stream of individuals and couples living with Covid stress and uncertainty.

Over time, things seemed to get better. They were better. The relief was palpable in my community and across the country.

Last month, when “the next variant” caught fire all over the world and then landed here, a change in my emotional state began. Tension, fear, disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration, and a rise in general negativity began to knock insistently on my door. Apparently, the feelings managed to sneak in and shatter the place a bit before I realized they were even there. As I pondered, my last piece, Compassion for Those With Covid Anxiety, was the first track.

Total transparency, I am vaccinated and empowered. I believe in science and am aware of the data that seems to support that for many of us the initial impact of Omicron on health may be minimal. It is the unknown of Long Covid that pauses me and I would prefer that none of the people I care about, myself included, should face the bottom line.

As I often advise my clients, the first step in tackling difficult emotions is the awareness that they are there in the first place. Finding out about myself was important to move on to the next step. Then I sat down with the feelings and made sense of them. Because of my history, I have a certain vulnerability in my sense of security (emotionally and otherwise). I’ve been doing my own work around this for years. Interestingly, my old “stuff” wasn’t activated in the same way before Omicron, but I think there’s something about having a period of time when things seemed to get better, and then seeing how it escaped, I he turned around.

joe hepburn EcWFOYOpkpY unsplashBeing able to empathize with your vulnerable self can help you find solutions. This is where having an emotional health toolbox is key. I wrote a diary about my feelings and then made lists (I am a list maker) of things I could do to cope, encourage my resilience, and practice self-care. This is a great example of, despite what therapists “know” about emotional health, it can sometimes come out the window of our personal lives. Ideally, we ultimately remember what we “know” and use our tools. That’s what I’m doing now.

Many of us are going through the same undulating emotions to be here again with Covid. Yes, it is different in many ways, but psychologically it seems to be having a similar impact on many of us collectively. Last night, I listened to SE Cupp on CNN’s Unfiltered program, which began with, “Man, I’m exhausted,” as he continued to talk about his pandemic fatigue, the stress that his kids were in school with increase, frustration with the mixed Covid message, etc. I feel his pain. Many of you do too.

Together we overcome this emotional roller coaster. Here are some steps I took, just like you.

  • Be aware that you may be emotionally vulnerable right now.
  • Take time with yourself to understand what is going on and why.
  • Practice self-compassion. It is understandable that you have these feelings. You are far from alone.
  • Build your toolbox. Whether you already have healthy self-care and coping tools available, but haven’t used them in a long time, or start from scratch, find out what works for you and find out what your options are.
  • Use your tools. I have resumed my meditation practice.
  • Practice self-care. I have dropped out of the gym again, but hiking, tennis, indoor light weights, and regular stretching are helpful to me. So it’s quiet time.
  • Evaluate your relationships. Now not everyone has the same experience. Some don’t think Covid is a problem, while others deal with difficult feelings with denial, among other ways. Connect with those who support and validate your emotional experiences and choices to make you feel safer. Stay away from those who are disabling you or making fun of your choice to take things out for the time being.

During the course of the pandemic, especially in the beginning, I wrote many articles on how to overcome it. And I also had some other guest posts from help professionals. Some may be useful again now.

What do you do when the bottom falls? Rick Hanson, PhD

Couples: Virus Fear Vs. Fatigue virus Lisa B. Kift, MFT

Living in a Time of Threat Lisa B. Kift, MFT

Powerful tools to restore your resilience Linda Graham, MFT

The reality is that things can get a little worse before they get better. Together we take advantage of our tools for resilience. During this time when people continue to seek therapy support, with Omicron as a backdrop, the truth for me is that doing this job brings me more joy than ever. Focusing and supporting my clients can almost be a state of flux for me. I’ve noticed that during this time it also serves as a distraction from one’s own worries.

I remember how grateful I am to be in a profession that resonates so deeply. And in difficult times, it also comforts me in the most unexpected ways.

All right, everyone.

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