For many, feelings panic, worry, anxiety, depression, boredom, isolation and loneliness occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic are quite new. If they are not new, then we may feel them more intensely or more often or for a more prolonged period of time than in the past These feelings can be quite scary because they can manifest in ways we hadn’t thought possible – be they emotional or physical. In some of us, the distress is so difficult to tolerate, we are willing to risk our safety and the safety of others, to escape it by flouting the rules designed to keep us safe – even if it means risking judgment from others.
However, for many people living with mental health challenges, these feelings and experiences are nothing new. Some might argue those who have navigated these experiences are better equipped in some ways to cope with the current crisis. They have a toolkit. If you are looking for some help and some hard won wisdom, read this small collection of experiences called Lived wisdom on panic, worry and isolation: stories to support the community amid the COVID-19 crisis, from mental health service users, survivors and ex-patients. The institute even invites you to add to their collection with your own experiences. The authors rightly suggest that members of these communities are not often asked to share their expertise. Certainly mental health stigmas don’t help. Now is a great time to hear their voices, and perhaps, consider the ways we might hear those same voices with curiosity and compassion when things return to “normal”.