By Erica Barz
Special to GoGuide Magazine
Pandemic, most consequential election of our lives, systemic inequities coming to a boil, there’s….a lot happening right now. And after seven months of having many of our creature comforts and support systems ripped out from under us (if you’re taking the pandemic seriously at least, which I hope to God you are) with no end in sight, many of us are dealing with a quickly deteriorating ability to cope. Especially those of us who are usually privileged enough to “socially distance” ourselves from society’s ills and engage on our own terms.
One thing that’s true for me, and I know I’m not alone in this, is that I am very good at giving other people grace for having emotions and needs and breaks, but hold myself to an impossible standard of productivity and stoicism. Call it the Curse of the White Protestant Midwestern Work Ethic with a fun sprinkle of internalized capitalism (as if those are separate things). This has been a particularly rough month for me, and it’s taken me more time than I’d care to admit to accept it.
While not universally true, I believe LGBTQ people have more practice than our cishet counterparts for having productive conversations about mental health. It’s a fun “perk” of our community-wide proclivity for depression and anxiety that stems from trauma, both from decades past and in our own individual lives trying to deal with a heteronormative society. While that’s unquestionably not a good thing, I do think it makes our community uniquely prepared to navigate this troubling period.
This column is not going to list ways you can try to power through the pandemic. There are more than enough articles out there to scratch that itch. Though in my experience, those articles are the COVID-19 brand of screaming “try yoga” at people as if it will solve all their problems, showing a stunning inability to read the room.
I just want to acknowledge that shit royally sucks right now. If you’re like me and find vulnerability in yourself distasteful, consider this column a permission slip to give yourself a little grace. You don’t have to be functioning at pre-pandemic levels. It’s incredible that any of us are functioning at all right now, frankly.
I believe that LGBTQ people will do what we need to get through this. Let’s take care of each other and ourselves so we can come through the other side. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll build a better and more compassionate world along the way.