I’m Tired, but I’m not Powerless

Hi there,

I completely scrapped what I had planned for the weekly mental health blog post. I articulate best in the written word, so here goes my effort to scratch the surface on current events; after all, racism, bigotry, narcissistic leaders, and murder collectively influence mental health.

As a therapist, I have the unique opportunity to address social issues as they impact my clients and myself. In addition to being on the front lines during this pandemic, albeit virtually, I am seeing the impact that the tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd (the list goes on) are having on my clients (White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, you name it.)

Vicarious Trauma– the clinical term used to describe the symptoms a person experiences after witnessing a trauma or a series of traumas; for example, anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares, confusion, headaches, crying spells, depression, hopelessness, anger, irritability, apathy, fatigue, etc.

Let’s focus on the symptom of fatigue for a moment. We’re tired as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our livelihoods, our activities of daily living, and on society as we know it. We’re tired of seeing people murdered in broad daylight for no reason. We’re tired because our nation’s leader doesn’t attempt to feign concern, responsibility, empathy, anything (he meets the DSM 5 clinical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, y’all.) Instead, he uses Twitter like a flamethrower, which feels like a gut punch to our psychological and social systems. Hopelessness, powerlessness, and fear. That’s his intent.

I had a session with my own therapist last week in which I vented about the overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that I was having. I’m so glad that my therapist reframed this negative thinking.

I’m not powerless and we are not powerless. My therapist reminded me that I am in a perfect position to make an impact through my talents related to mental health, writing, and from insights that I have from being a Black, biracial male living in the middle of this trainwreck.

Hence this post.

As I’ve been telling my clients, I don’t have the answers. There’s no neat conclusion, so I won’t even try.  If you haven’t done so already, check out a recent discussion I had on the topic of Racism and Mental Health.

Take care,

Johnzelle Anderson, LPC

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