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March 31, 2020

Calgary Psychologist shares Her Struggles with Covid-19

Imagine yourself at the bottom of this deep dark pit. It’s cold. You’re all alone. You try to climb out, but the dirt crumbles beneath your fingertips. Roots of trees offer a glimmer of hope of escape. Yet, as you try to pull yourself up, each one breaks. You feel desperate. Helpless and hopeless. You feel an overwhelming heaviness.

You hear voices. You try to yell out for help, but nothing comes out. You feel embarrassed and ashamed that you are in this place.

What will people think? What will they say?

So instead of calling out, you remain silent. Time passes by and the darkness overtakes every part of your being. There is nothing you can do. No one to turn to. You are truly alone and petrified.

Why are you here? How did you get to this place? Why can’t you just get out? The walls of the pit feel like they are closing in. You crumble to the ground in a fetal position. Rocking yourself back and forth.

You finally accept that you are in this dark place. Waiting. Hoping. Accepting what is.

A voice from above calls out “Is someone down there?”

You call out “Yes… please help me.”

A rope comes down and you hang on for dear life while you are pulled to safety. A person extends their hand to you and asks “Are you okay? How can I help you?”

An overwhelming sense of relief pours through you. You accept that you need help and help is there for you. This is your beginning of stepping out of the darkness and into the light.

This is the visualization I would begin almost every talk I did. A visualization to help people understand what it is like to deal with depression.

It’s imperative that you know that you are not alone andthere are people and organizations here to help you. Distress Centre Calgary is there for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call them! Talk to someone who cares. Alberta Health Services has created a Text4Hope service and provided an excellent list of resources for Help in Tough Times.

My dear friend, Tessa Burns is a registered Psychologist and the owner of Serenity Now Wellness. Her front “Porch” is the place she helps many people move through crisis. Here is her story.

Tessa Burns, Registered Psychologist and Owner of Serenity Now Wellness.

“The impact of COVID-19 on myself and my business has been extensive. As a psychologist, I had been dealing with the anxiety related to the spread even prior to any shut-downs. As soon as it became a concern in China, people started to worry about themselves and their loved ones. I was able to use a lot of my techniques around mindfulness and breath work to help people get grounded and work through their emotions. I was also feeling very grounded because I felt safe by engaging in the recommended hygiene practices and doing my own self-care routines. Since the shutdowns, it has been increasingly difficult to manage all the changes that my clients are experiencing while still navigating my own feelings. Normally, when I am counselling on an issue, I have moved through the concern, but this issue has impacted everyone in one way or another, so I am often working my strategies only days ahead the support I am providing my clients. Because I am so close to the issue now, I am having to increase my own mindfulness and self-awareness strategies so that I am providing the highest level of care to people.

As a business owner, my heart aches because I am watching so many of my friends and colleagues see their own dreams slip away. Though my business has been able to pivot to online sessions, I am grieving the growth projection that my business was moving towards. I miss being able to strategize and get excited about future endeavours as the strategizing has been focused on in-the-moment steps to take to keep the business moving forward. I definitely feel extra weight every day as I try so hard to ensure that I don’t have to take steps to let go of any more staff because every time we get a new restriction on services we can provide, I have to make the difficult decision about who to let go. With every day, I worry about my ability to support my family, but also worry about whether I will have to make a decision that will negatively impact another person’s family, and these are people that I love and want to take care of, so it makes it that much harder.

So, if you have a business owner in your life, give them a virtual hug because I know they need it. And if you need any support, know that us psychologists are working hard to be able to be here for you to ensure that you take care of yourself. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!”

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