by Jeremy Van Wert,
Marriage and Family Therapist
July 30, 2020
2020, Anxiety, Depression, and You in a World of Chaos
“I can’t shake it. It’s this feeling of helplessness. First shelter in place, then the loss of jobs, then George Floyd and all of this scary unrest. I can’t shake these feelings of doom. I’m scared, sad, lonely, and concerned for the world.” – A Human
2020 has been a cacophony of sorrow and chaos so complete, the US government actually admitted the existence of UFOs and the world barely noticed. Social media news feeds are full of images and videos of rage, rioting, and the destruction of the world we know. So many people are feeling lost and broken at this time of upheaval and uncertainty. With every thumb scroll, there’s some new episode of torture, harm, sadness, destruction, and injustice. It’s more than a person was built to bear.
Each of us with empathy in our hearts hurt for the things we’ve seen. We hurt for the lives effected by disease, isolation, and death. We hurt for the lives effected by injustice and cruelty. We hurt for the small business owners who have seen the destruction of dreams through no fault of their own. We hope, pray, and desire for a world to emerge from all of this where we can enjoy the company of our friends and community without the total strangeness brought about by 2020.
2020 brings with it a special brand of anxiety and depression. This depression and anxiety is brought about by the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the destabilizing effect brought about by a society that feels scary and unsettled. This year also comes with an added element of shame. This shame comes from the extreme division that has formed in our nation, making so many individuals feel unable to express their sincere feelings and perspectives out of shame that something they say may be construed as unintentionally wrong or insensitive to somebody somewhere. The nuanced feelings of so many are drowned out by polarizing, extreme, definitive, and strongly worded perspectives. These perspectives are written and spoken by people and organizations offering total simplicity and clarity in political ideas established through diminishing those who are not in complete agreement.
Consider this your permission to feel empathy for whatever and whomever you choose, including yourself. Consider this your permission to hold nuanced, complex, contradictory, and hypocritical views and perspectives about anything going on in the world right now. Consider this your permission to let go of feeling shame for being who you are. Consider this your permission to hold ideas based out of allowing yourself to have your own thoughts, values, and experiences. Finally, consider this permission to take a break from the constant horror show going on in the world in order to regain a sense of self worth, safety, hope, and stability.
The world doesn’t become a better place when it is filled with people depleting themselves, draining their emotional energy, and consuming their minds with images of sorrow and hopelessness. The world becomes a better place when people of conscience have the strength, ability, and willingness to reach out, show kindness, help others, and see the goodness that abounds in this world, even in the dreaded world of 2020.
If you are feeling anxious and discombobulated some or all of the time, take some time to evaluate what occupies your mind. If your mind is constantly occupied by the chaos and fear being broadcast worldwide by every screen in every home, consider a digital sabbatical… even if it’s just for a few hours. If panic rules your world, it’s time to back off the things creating the uncertainty you feel. Despite what so many try to tell you, you have the right to the perspectives, worldview, and ideas in your life. You also have the right to change your mind whenever you want and for no reason at all.
Lastly, take some time to think about what you might need to do for yourself in all of this. Do you need more contact with friends and family? Do you need less contact with family and more contact with friends? Do you need more time alone? Create the world you need in 2020. The world we got this year isn’t what we wanted. It just means we might need to work harder to make 2020 the year each of us carved something good and wholesome out of a world of sorrow and uncertainty.
About the Author
Jeremy Van Wert MFT MBA is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice doing tele-video therapy sessions with immediate openings. Jeremy has a specialty in trauma, anxiety, teens, parenting, men’s issues, and religious abuse. You can find Jeremy at www.ascentonlinecounseling.com