And Then Depression Set In

Reposting from our good friend Spencer Roed with MultiDrywall:

AND THEN . . . . DEPRESSION SET IN . . . . .

March 31, 2020

Week Two of Michigan’s shelter in place order, and to quote Bill Murray in the 1981 classic Stripes, “and then . . . .depression set in . . . . ” (click here for the clip)

I have noticed that people are moving this week away from the awe of “can you believe this is happening?” They have moved away from assumption that we will be back to work on April 13th. They are starting to tire of keeping up with the minute by minute news updates. They are starting to tire of walking around the neighborhood.

Instead, people are getting depressed. People are getting extremely worried. People are getting panicky.

And no longer are people just concerned about the virus. They are also concerned about their futures. In general, people do not like unknowns: “What is going to happen to my friend/family member who is in the hospital all by him/herself with the virus (or even any other medical issue)? When can I go back to work? Will my job be there? Will the economy crumble? Even after this shelter in place, how do I know my family will be safe? What will happen to my kids’ schooling?” And on and on.

There are so many unknowns right now and it is causing a lot of people a lot of stress.

And with nothing to do, people are watching the news and reading the news. There are almost no articles or news TV right now that is not talking about the pandemic or the economic ravages it has brought. All the news is bad. This only puts people in a more nervous, panicky and depressive state.

Whether you are a leader within your family, your religious organization, your company, your region or any other group, now is the time to step up and help reassure people.

In no way am I saying downplay the problem – we have massively large problems.

What I am saying is that this too shall pass. This 101 year old Italian man just survived the coronavirus (click here for the article). He also survived the 1918 Spanish flu (year he was born), the Great Depression, WWII, the 1968 pandemic, the 2009 pandemic along with all of the other “minor” horrible things that happened during that time period.

The mayor of this man’s town said, “Even at 101, the future is not written.” What a great quote!

Some advice: On the days when good news comes, do not allow yourself, or those around you, to get too hopeful. On the days when the news is really bad, do not allow yourself, or those around you, to get too down. Whatever the news today, your future is not yet written.

Remember the Stockdale paradox: focus on the things you can control and have faith that you will get out of this situation some day. By NOT focusing on the things you cannot control, you, and those around you can get through this in a much better way.

So what can you do?

· First and foremost, abide by the medical recommendations for hand washing, social distancing, etc. Protecting yourself and your family is critical. Ventilate with outside air your house as much as possible.

· Second, recognize that those around you may be depressed or panicked. Take time to sit them down and reassure them. They need you right now. If you are depressed or panicked, find someone you can talk to that can give you some perspective.

· Keep the TV news and the news on your phone off as much as possible. You do not need to know the latest breaking news item – you are not doing anything anyways so you can get a news download once a day. The constant drip of negative news just takes your ability to focus on positive things

· Get on Zoom with your family. Our company founder got 18 of his relatives from around the country on a Zoom chat for an hour. Not only did he report that it was great seeing everyone, they had a good time and there were a lot of joking and laughter.

· Be creative. Andi, a friend of mine, has a grandchild whose birthday is next week. They are scheduling a “drive by” birthday party where friends and family are driving past the house and they have created some new rituals to celebrate the child’s birthday.

· Read a book. Books take you into another world and will allow your mind some relief from the problems of the day. It is important to give your mind a chance to rest and it will allow you time to gain some perspective.

· Exercise, exercise, exercise. There is nothing so good as exercise when you are dealing with negativity.

· Have barbecues and, if you are allowed, a fire in your backyard

· Educate the youth. If you have someone in your family that is not going to school, they need your help. Personally, I have started a reading session on Facetime with a young man where he reads out loud to me over the video phone. He not only is “forced” to read, but he also gets pointers on public speaking. While I can not spend time with him in person, we are connected via video. You could do the same thing with math or other subjects

Once you start thinking about what you can do, as opposed to what you cannot do, this list is endless.

So pay attention to yourself and those around you. Make sure you are helping them get through this.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions and/or comments.

PS: For the full 4 minute clip of the Stripes “And then depression set in” scene click here. Warning: there is a racy couple seconds that has been fuzzed out.

Spencer Roed

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