Coping During a Pandemic

Coping During a Pandemic

Part of grief is allowing yourself to feel loss and sit with it in a way that you do not try to hide or dismiss pain. Allowing oneself to truly access pain, and to recognize that pain is not a binary situation is one mindful approach to coping. As Thich Nhat Hanh states in his text “No Mud, No Lotus” (2014), “When we suffer, we tend to think that suffering is all there is at that moment, and happiness belongs to some other time or place.” (p. 11). When in fact, we can learn to understand and engage with the presence of both happiness and suffering, and ultimately enjoy life more. It sounds complicated because we so often are led to believe these things do not exist together, but if this pandemic has shown us, even in the depths of our suffering, we can find hope.

Coping during a pandemic. What a bizarre sentence that prior to 2020, must have sounded like a dystopian nightmare. While there may be a sense that there is a feeling now as though the pandemic is over, in reality COVID-19 still rages on in all parts of the world and remains a concern for vulnerable groups. Vulnerable groups, who I would like to add are just as valuable and worthy of protection compared to less vulnerable groups. The improvement in reducing the sense of panic with the pandemic came largely thanks to effective vaccines that help deliver protection. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to vaccines in the world, and not all those fortunate enough to have access are choosing to become vaccinated against an infection-these realities allow the pandemic to persist.

“When we suffer, we tend to think that suffering is all there is at that moment, and happiness belongs to some other time or place.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh “No Mud, No Lotus” (2014)

An important part of coping in this stage of the pandemic, involves accepting how far we have come, and recognizing all it took to get here. It’s been an arguably tough time for most, traumatic for many. Whether you have lost loved ones or family, or had to isolate and miss out on important events, weddings, graduations, reunions to name a few, this past year has evoked a sense of loss that many have not been used to experiencing and that no one was able to effectively prepare for. Take some needed time to reflect on what you have lost, but also reflect on what you have gained. Have you perhaps gained a greater appreciation of what you have and your own strengths, or perhaps a greater understanding of what others go through, or even a better ability to tackle the unknown.

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Coping During a Pandemic as Someone with Chronic Illness

Coping During a Pandemic as Someone with Chronic Illness

How this pandemic has been experienced by folks with chronic health issues is an area that is worthy of further exploration, as I imagine there are differences between those experiences and those of healthy folks. I also would like to elaborate that folks with chronic health issues are not a monolith and everyone within that group can also have a wealth of different experiences.

Coping during a pandemic as an individual with chronic illness, can bring about many painful emotions. These emotions can include feelings of isolation, othering, fear, and stress. A common experience for folks at the beginning of the pandemic was a sense of validation-that in some ways, healthy folks would get to experience a fraction of the discomfort, burden, and isolation that those with long term illness experience on a fairly regular basis. In some ways, that did occur. However, healthy people have the luxury that the pandemic will ultimately end-whereas chronic illness is by its nature unrelenting.

While folks are adhering to constantly changing guidelines which can include no longer wear masks indoors or gathering in public places and forgoing social distancing, the reality is that there still exist uncertainties for those with long term health issues, whether it is due to compromised immune systems due to solid organ transplants, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, or other areas of concern related to health-such as loved ones refusing to get the vaccine or the not knowing if others are vaccinated or not. The chronic illness community deserves protection and dignity during this turbulent time.

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What Works for You: 3 Common & Effective Treatment Options for Depression


Depression is one of the most well-known and common mental illnesses in the United States. Most commonly associated with symptoms of sadness and apathy, individuals with major depression experience symptoms that last for two weeks or more and are severe enough to impact daily activities. Though the onset of major depression can occur at any age, the median onset age is 32, which indicates that younger populations have a higher risk for developing this condition.

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Cancelled Plans

Keeping track of medication, symptoms, doctor’s appointments, screenings, in addition to all the “regular” aspects of my life can be draining. Just as important as making sure to be on top of my health, it’s as important to maintain positive relationships with important people in my life. This is why the notion of cancelling plans is such an unpleasant facet of my reality.

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Every six months I get to have a Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). An MRCP is an MRI of the liver and bile ducts, and is meant to check for any biliary obstructions, as well as provide detailed images of the liver, gall bladder, and pancreas. The MRCP also diagnoses Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).  I had my first one about six months ago, and that was what diagnosed PSC.

Now, it is necessary to monitor the progression of this illness.

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Ah medication. Such a complex subject when dealing with autoimmune disease right? The main reason for this is that any medication used to treat an autoimmune disease, works by suppressing the immune system, and the immune system (while overactive in our cases) is actually still, very, necessary! So what does that mean?

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Clock in a dark room with ray of sun shining on it

Time is such a fascinating concept isn’t it?

It can be measured, it is exact, it is vast, it is achingly short, it is profoundly versatile. Mathematicians and physicists use it as a variable, individuals use it to schedule their day, and some of us whine about when we have to lose an hour for Daylight Saving Time. A few of my friends here might recall my countdown to wrap up my doctoral internship, where the steady passage of time was most welcome.

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An Introduction

King's Seat Scotland

Being alive is hard. Before I continue, please read that as not an existential crisis a la Dostoyevsky, but as the realistic musings of a clinical psychologist who was recently diagnosed with not one, but two chronic autoimmune illnesses (and, as my Rheumatologist has informed me, possibly will have a third one in my future). Having introduced that little tid bit of personal information, allow me to provide you with the purpose of this blog: A place for learning, for understanding, and ultimately for healing.

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