Volume 1, Resources 16: Re-Orientation & Reality Check, Pandemic Round-Up, Surge Capacity, & More Mental Health Resources

Hi friends! As you know, I am in the San Francisco Bay Area. As you may also know, a whole lot of California is on fire right now. When my wife left our apartment this morning, she sent me this photo. Oakland, 9 a.m.

<photo taken in an intersection. The sky is sepia, an orange-rust color. There is no sun. It is very dark and cars have their headlights on. This is because the sky is filled with thick smoke.>

Usually by 9 a.m. this time of year I need to use my sunglasses to be outdoors.

California isn’t the only place suffering the effects of climate change. Oregon has fires as well. Iowa had hurricanes. Colorado just had snow in September. As I am writing this, Austin, TX is having a flash-flood warning. It’s not just the U.S., either. Sudan is having extreme amounts of flooding and heavy rains. And on, and on.

On top of all this, there’s a pandemic! There’s a major social uprising and we are in the Bad Place™ with regards to the U.S. political situation. It is very easy right now to say that we are now in the apocalypse. That this is our dystopian present, the Elder Gods are rising from the sea, it’s the end of the world, meow meow meow.

I have a few different, but not opposing, thoughts on all this catastrophizing. First, I want to be wary of normalizing things. Other governments of other countries did what they needed to do to minimize the Covid-19 spread and resulting deaths. Our government, on the other hand, is normalizing mass death to get back to “business as usual.” This is not normal, this is not okay.

That being said, there have been pandemics before. There is always disease. What we are going through is both new and old at the same time. It is not the end of the world.

The same with the shitty government. There have been shitty people in power through all of history. And the climate change, honestly, Indigenous people, scientists, and surely Indigenous scientists have warned us for years. We need to fight both these things. Honestly, we need to fight capitalism to fight these things but that’s a subject for a different newsletter.

What I’m saying is: All these things are beatable(ish). It is not the end of the world. There is no rapture. Yes, things are scary. I agree 100%. It’s totally acceptable to be scared right now. But things being scary does not mean they are the “apocalypse.”

I also want to call attention to the “end of the world” catastrophizing. Marginalized people have been suffering the effects of climate change for decades. Suffering the effects of untreated disease and no access to health care forEVERRRR. Who are the first people who get hit when everything goes to shit? Indigenous people. Black people. Latinx people. Queer & trans people of color. Poor people. Disabled people. So when I see Becky #7 posting about how it’s the end of the world, I definitely have some side-eye want to say, I promise you: It’s not your world that is ending. But the world has been in a steady decline for many others of us and non-POC have a history of gaslighting marginalized people when we stand up and say, “Shit is really bad and we should do something.” But all of a sudden non-POC think the world is ending only now that it’s kind of affecting you? Get all the way outta here.

There are a lot of us who fall into marginalized categories and also have privileges. I still have a roof over my head. I’m not having to actually be outdoors at this time. We have air filters. We have jobs that we can mostly do from home. At the same time, honestly, we’re still living paycheck to paycheck. We have healthcare, but a major health disaster could ruin our lives in more ways than one. Now is as good a time as any for all of us to do a privilege check. And I hate to say it, but yes, maybe a gratitude check as well.

My other thought is around people like myself, in marginalized groups, making apocalypse jokes. This type of gallows humor is frequently found in cultures like mine because honestly, we have to laugh at things otherwise we would never stop screaming in despair. That being said, I’m going to be more conscious about my humor around catastrophizing and I recommend you do the same.

Take a few moments. Unclench your jaw. Breathe. Then, when we’re done simultaneously freaking the fuck out and cracking jokes, we can come together (but not physically) and figure out what we can do to help each other get through all of this and change things for the better.

This Instagram post says some of this a bit more succinctly.

Fun fact: It’s actually a resource week! I just couldn’t not say anything about the state of the country right now. I actually had to work today and my focus was completely in the trash can. Meow meow!

Resource #1: Violet Blue’s Pandemic Round-Up

Not gonna lie, I’m on overload when it comes to Covid-19 news. It’s something I talk about in my day job almost daily and it is directly related to my work. It is everywhere I look on social media. My brain is fried. Maybe you’re feeling this way too, so I want to share something that my friend Violet has been doing, which is a weekly Pandemic Round-Up. Per the first round-up:

“The focus is on the American experience — curating these links came from my own need to find answers and to share factual, practical information with readers at a time when it’s very difficult to cut through the noise and disinformation here.

My lens is human-focused. I curate and comment keeping in mind disenfranchised communities and groups typically excluded from mainstream coverage and issues — at-risk groups, LGBTQ (all bodies, all genders, all orientations), BIPOC, poor and homeless populations, those with physical and cognitive differences/abilities, and I remain staunchly critical of tech, corporations, and classism. Every roundup will be from a harm-reduction perspective.”

Friends: It is excellent. It is everything that my tired brain needs from someone that I trust. She reads each link and does due diligence on verification.

Resource #2: Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful

Note: this article is only accessed for free if you haven’t already hit your limit for the month.

As per the author, “Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.”

This article not only talks about what surge capacity is, but also, ways to replenish it. One of the parts that stuck with me was about how high-achievers (hello!) are having an especially hard time right now because we are used to solving problems and getting things done and completing things and 1) there’s not a way for us to solve any of what is going on on our own and 2) there’s not actually a clear end in sight. Your Type A friends are strugglingggg.

Resource #3: COVID-19 & Your Mental Health: A Comprehensive Resource Guide from Peak Resilience

Note: This guide is focused on resources Vancouver, BC, Canada; however, some of the resources are accessible online and relevant to you wherever you are so I feel pretty secure in sharing it. It has a variety of resources, from practical advice to online workbooks. Don’t forget about the free anxiety workbook I linked in Volume 1, Resource 6 as well.

I want to leave you with something bringing me joy right now, which is my new spooky beret, embroidered with red bats.

<image of the top of a beret on my head. The beret is black with seven bats in flight embroidered in red. I am on our olive-colored futon and my purple hair is sticking out from under the beret. You cannot see my face.>

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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