Friends Off: Diving into Polarizing Impact of Covid-19 and Pandemic Beliefs

Broken Friendship Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr,  Pinterest, and Twitter

As the year 2020 unfolded it started with the bushfires raging across Australia, burning 18.6M hectares and killing 1B animals. Then, the US drone hit Baghdad International Airport and took down Iranian major general. With war breathing over the shoulder, and racial tensions over police brutality reaching a boiling point, we got dealt with the worst pandemic in recent history that killed 1.4 million people so far. I’ll spare you the rest.

A year ago I was blissfully ignorant to the deep rooted belief systems within my peer network. Those were simpler times when the pre-requisites for relationships with one another were based on whether they made us laugh and offered companionship. The interactions with one another grew with safe and respectful dialogue whereby the intimate bonds and connections over shared experiences and emotions were validated through the feelings of acceptance and belonging.

But as we enter another year in the same predicament, new conversations are occurring as we look back and reflect on the changes in our lives. The biggest change I think many people can attest to is the breakdown of many friendships and relationships that at one time held significant space in our lives. It’s evident that people’s perceptions of others within their peer network vary within their own position amidst the pandemic and how they’ve chose to operate within it. I’m 100% guilty of unfollowing, filtering and overtly ignoring my exposure to opinions whereby I feel I may be experience judgment about their character as a result of their beliefs. I’m sure it goes both ways as well.

For the purpose of this conversation it’s important for me to identify where my beliefs lie in the grand scheme of things.

I believe there is a pandemic and I believe that the stats being provided are vastly minimized as a result of our 3rd world countries not having the ability to provide testing in addition the ability report accurate death tolls. I believe the vulnerable and disenfranchised voices have been silenced by those who carry the privilege of youthfulness, good health, and access to health care and mental health benefits. I believe in the recommendations that are being provided by the health organizations and I’ve chosen to listen to them. I believe the circumstances of mistrust and convoluted information sharing has polluted minds as opposed to “Awaken” their ability to think independently. I believe in the right to exercise ones rights as long as it is not at the detriment of public health. I believe it is necessary to be considerate of the varying ways people are choosing to navigate within these trying times. I believe I should be sensitive and cautious about what I choose to share as it may be triggering or upsetting to others on a public platform.

“Geography divides people only if the people allow it – faith divides people only if the people allow it – intellect divides people only if the people allow it – politics divides people only if the people allow it. So, unless the people allow it, nothing can tear our world apart. Unless you allow it, nothing can tear our society apart.”

― Abhijit Naskar, Aşkanjali: The Sufi Sermon

In addition I am coming from the place if a person who was infected with Covid-19 in July 2020 and do not believe it is “just a flu” for everyone as a result of my own experience with it. Read More Here

I am fine with wearing masks and I’m fine with getting a vaccine as I’m a frontline worker within vulnerable communities. Everyday I face the risk of exposing my elderly mother who lives with us to Covid-19. I don’t care about what others choose- to each their own. I’ve oscillated between being hyper vigilant to neglectful with regards to adhering to the gathering rules and I have hugged friends and entertained a select few in the basement of my home on occasions. I struggle between my own selfish needs for company and the need to protect the health and wellbeing of others who could die from Covid. One could say I am a hypocrite- I choose a kinder term- I’m only human.

Many friends and acquaintances in my network managed to adopt passionate voices for Human Rights; but not when the racial inequality reached its boiling point this year, but rather when they were told to wear a mask. Many used their voice to fight and support causes that in my opinion outed their ignorance and bigoted attitudes. I admittedly chose to fall back from these people when I realized how self serving they were and that they no longer had a place in my bubble. So as you can see I’m no stranger to the divide and recognize that my tolerance for stupidity is less than forgiving. As harsh as my disclosure may sound, I thinks it’s important to highlight my own biases for the purposes of recognizing that intolerance exists at both ends of the spectrums. My own ability to engage in dialogue that perhaps could facilitate understanding seems to require far too much energy that I simply do not have. We are all placed in difficult positions of having to navigate how to simultaneously process and make sense of our own heightened feelings of vulnerability and anxiety, while also staying attuned to our friends and family’s needs and creating a “holding space” for their anxieties.  This weighs on our patience and ability to feel empathetic, and we cannot always be expected to respond 100% of the time with our best foot forward. But try telling that though to the friend or family member who feels like you are not doing enough- or just do what I do-Not Give a Fuck.

So this in a nutshell is the lens I am coming from. And while some may align themselves with what I’ve shared, I’m sure 50% also disagree. Which leads me to believe we are more prone than ever to show people the door and give them the boot. We becoming more polarized within our once treasured friendships which are dissolving at an alarming rate.

The Grumpy Introvert's Advice on Friend Breakups

There are probably many reasons. Could social media be driving polarization? Many people think so—and, indeed, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter have all become sites of ferocious political argument. Social media, it seems, amp up moral and emotional messages while organizing people into digital communities based on tribal conflicts. The recent Trump incited riots and storming of the capital is a good representation as to how social media has provided a platform for similar minded communities to unite and organize. There was a common assumption that radicalism only existed within the Islamic extremists, focusing on how these groups were used to groom and recruit supporters. Needless to say, the predominantly white extremists who prefer the term “Patriots” continue to be given Oxygen via their online platforms, feeding on the vulnerable, and for a better term, the Gullible. Domestic terrorism has been vastly overlooked as White nationalists are now the #1 threat facing the United States in regards to terrorism. Nationalist Chapters in Canada continue to grow at rapid rates as well, capitalizing on those seeking to find refuge among seemingly like-minded people.

“We can divide the river’s flow and subsequently channel its splintered force in any way that our selfish agendas might compel us. However, it all ends up in the sea, for although the river’s power might be diminished by such meddling, its destination is not. And on this mutual journey to the seas of freedom, might we as the human race remember the mighty river that we are. And in remembering that, may we soundly reject those who would selfishly divide our unity in order to prompt us to lesser seas”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Many have become complacent as they scurry to find a place to belong as their personal divides grow. Global events have evoked polarized public response whereby many have felt the responsibility to share their poorly sourced collection of “research.”  It has served to reinforce their personal beliefs in addition inadvertently push agenda’s that often people are innocently unaware of. There is a reason why a very small portion of us have  gone on to obtain PHD’s; to publish a factual article and science based study at this level requires almost half a human life span.  Meanwhile we have Facebook Franny spitting Wikipedia facts whereby Gullible Glenda spams her timeline and so on.

I fondly reflect back on March 2020, when we all clung to the novelty of Zoom hangouts and remote celebrations as the circumstances felt all so temporary. With the deepening of visible divisions in how people are handling the ongoing pandemic have become the source of growing tension resulting in a decreased desire to connect with those on the opposing side. As our lives have become quieter, many of us face difficulty finding something to talk about. In fact I struggle weekly to figure out what I’m going to write about that isn’t Covid-19 related. My desire to see people via zoom is not appealing as I spend the majority of my day staring at my double chin in a never ending series of WebEx meetings.

The escalating toxicity of the polarization within our friendships and relationships, I cannot avoid mentioning that there is another side to the story. Some have said their relationships have strengthened during this time, as they have prioritized whom they care about and how often they check in. This in actuality is healthy, and perhaps a practice many of us should have been practicing long ago. Ego’s will always be bruised in the process and feelings hurt; but consider the benefits of having more time to invest in yourself and your own growth having less baggage to worry about.

In Conclusion these are the facts:

  • For some, their values no longer align
  • For others, it’s not differences — but distance
  • Our relationships may have been forever altered
  • We are all Grieving the Losses

Ultimately, relationships may be affected forever after the pandemic and we will emerge not the same people we were a year ago. This will be one of the many traumas to come out of 2020/2021 that we don’t even fully know about yet.

“Each thinker will regard anything that clashes with his or her worldview to be insane and in conflict with reality. That’s because each thinker regards his or her worldview as reality itself and not as just an inner illusion. However, worldviews are just inner illusions. Making matters worse, people with similar worldviews tend to join with others who share major elements of their worldviews, and they tend to avoid those people who have worldviews that aren’t similar. This segregation results in confirmation bias among peers, making matters much worse.”


― Petros Scientia

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Posttraumatic Stress, Grief, Burnout, and Secondary Trauma of Social Workers

More recently I’ve heard the term “Secondary /Vicarious Trauma,” used during my debriefing team check-ins as we have all become more aware of the the need to be proactive in this area. I personally am far too familiar with Burn-out and Compassion Fatigue, whereby I have applied the prescriptive measures to mitigate the impact on me.

However, as the months have marched on and the world of child welfare has become complex and discouraging, I’ve become somewhat detached emotionally from how I’m dealing as I’m far too consumed with the bigger issues of the families I serve. The only way I can describe the feeling is in terms of feeling perhaps shell shocked and vacant- a robot of human being that seems to be floating from case to case. My main source of motivation for me to keep on truckin’ is that we (social workers) are needed more than ever at the moment. Secondly, when building relationships with the families and youth I serve, I’m also appeasing some selfish needs to satiate my own need for connection and confirmation that I’m not in struggle alone. In a world without gatherings, its pretty pitiful that I now count home visits, systems meetings, and investigation interviews as my “social time.” So with that being said, I’ve subscribed to a steady diet of toxic dysfunction without little reprieve.

And just like the pandemic “circuit breakers” we have all come to familiarize ourselves with, and perhaps loathe at moments, we too deserve a personal circuit breaker when it comes to addressing the psychological impact our work is having on us. More often than not, victims of trauma lack the words to express their grief and fear. Social workers recognize the need and are the first to respond. They are the ones who will speak hope into the hearts of the hurting. But in doing that, we too need to find the words and hope to address our own along the way.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody

-Lily Tomlin

So What is Secondary Trauma?

According to Rose Zimering, PhD , Suzy Bird Gulliver, PhD Mental health Workers and Social Workers hear tales of extreme human suffering and observe the emotions of fear, helplessness and horror registered by survivors on a consistent basis. Recent research demonstrates that these occupational duties may cause psychological symptoms in the practitioner who bears witness to the survivors’ account of trauma.

Primary posttraumatic stress disorder may be diagnosed in an individual who experienced, witnessed or was confronted with a traumatic event and responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror. Intentional traumas (e.g., combat, sexual assault, terrorism and mass violence), as well as unintentional traumas (e.g., natural disasters, accidents), may cause this pervasive psychiatric condition.

Secondary trauma is defined as indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event. The vivid recounting of trauma by the survivor and the clinician’s subsequent cognitive or emotional representation of that event may result in a set of symptoms and reactions that parallel PTSD (e.g., re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal). Secondary traumatization is also referred to as compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995) and vicarious traumatization (Pearlman and Saakvitne, 1995).

So What is Vicarious Trauma?


 Witnessing trauma (death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual
violence) at work can take an emotional toll. Healthcare providers are at increased risk because their jobs routinely
involve providing care for people who are vulnerable. They see or hear about traumatic events experienced by
others. Over time this exposure can have a negative impact.


 Factors influencing work-related Vicarious Trauma include:
o The nature of the work (repeated direct and indirect exposure to crisis situations), your working conditions,
training related to coping with exposure to trauma, and what supports are available to you in the workplace.
o You can be at more risk for developing vicarious trauma if there are significant stressors and losses in your
personal life (e.g. domestic violence, providing care for a loved one at home).
o Compassion fatigue (reduced empathy) and burnout (feeling exhausted due to chronic work-related stress)
can increase vulnerability to vicarious trauma
o Those in helping professions can feel isolated as family and friends might not want to hear about the
stressful situations they encounter at work, and do to confidentiality/ privacy considerations some things
cannot be discussed outside of work.


 Symptoms of vicarious trauma can include intrusive thoughts and imagery about those events, avoidance of things
related to the events, feeling discouraged about the world, anxiety (e.g. tension, restlessness, racing thoughts,
feelings of dread, elevated heart rate, difficulty sleeping), and changes to mood (sadness, fatigue, irritability,
hopelessness, withdrawal from family and friends, changes to appetite, loss of interest in activities), similar to what
people suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) experience.


 If it persists vicarious trauma can cause difficulties functioning at work and home, and evolve into mental and
physical health issues, relationship problems, increased absenteeism and attrition (helpers leaving the field).

Some ways to prevent and respond to vicarious trauma include:


Debrief with colleagues or a supervisor on a regular basis and after incidents at work


Routinely and proactively practice good self-care


Set realistic goals, expectations and boundaries for yourself


Have some quiet time — being in nature, writing in a journal, meditating


Recognize and appreciate the hard work you do


Get enough rest


Exercise often — even short walks are very helpful for coping with stress


Eat healthy and drink lots of water

Develop appropriate outlets for difficult emotions – talk with someone you trust, journal, exercise to
relieve frustration


Check how you are coping — ask others for their opinion on how they see you coping. This may help
provide some insight. (i.e.family member, friend)

Get more support if you find symptoms of vicarious trauma increase or persists

I am lighthouse rather than lifeboat. I do not rescue, but instead help others to find their way to shore, guiding them by my example.

-Modern affirmation

From Victim to Survivor: Domestic Violence a Disease more Deadly than Covid-19

I have to take a literal gigantic breath as I begin to write this very personal post. It’s not for fear of the consequences of divulging such personal accounts, but the huge knots it creates in my chest; a psychosomatic response to re-living traumatic experiences. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I began to write this then had to stop. I’d get doubtful and insecure as I’d stew over the vulnerability one faces when we talk about our truths that may touch on less than favorable aspects of our past. I have never shied away from talking about personal questionable life choices as a means to relate with others easily to remove some of those communication barriers. I have typically communicated them in the most digestible of ways; leaving out the darker aspects that perhaps are too heavy to unload on anyone that isn’t being paid to endure it.

But you see since the pandemic closures and increased isolation, according to John Hopkins Medicine the rate of murder-suicide, in which a male partner kills a female and then himself, has risen since the same time last year. In my personal network, I’ve been inundated with reports of domestic violence and abuse that has sent me on countless occasions into a tailspin of worry and concern for those involved. I’ve lost a close family member to a murder suicide, leaving two small children behind to face a life without either parent. And then there is my story which lead me to the decision to share in hopes others can relate and identify the warning signs or a way out.

It would be about 20 years ago that I finally left a very horrific and abusive relationship. I was an extremely naïve and sheltered teen, having grown up fairly normal, in fact very privileged. I had attended a prestigious boarding school where the evils of the world I’m sure existed, however in my little world did not. I had heard rumblings of inappropriate teacher student sexual relationships, and the odd senior who was rumored to have used cocaine. I had high school boyfriends who were all respectful, polite, in which nothing occurred outside of the typical adolescent dramatic heartbreaks.

Once I had graduated I had taken off immediately to University in Ottawa, following my high school boyfriend so we could be together forever. By year two I had fallen out of love and into the lap of this beautiful Haitian Spoken Word Poet who played the guitar, spoke French and burned incense while we canoodled on a mattress on a floor. That ended when my time at University in Ottawa ended, as did my tolerance for the smell of burning incense. My repertoire of lovers had been always a beautiful sequence of experiences and lessons in which shaped my view on love and loyalty. I felt empowered, desired, and fearless in my trust of others with my body, mind and soul.

I didn’t know otherwise. The universe had not shown me everything yet.

I look back often and ask myself when did things go so wrong for me. I have enough self awareness now to acknowledge that I have always had a curious flare for mischief and risk. The excitement attached to choices I’ve made repeatedly have always been self indulgent in nature, and in my immaturity lacked foresight. I’ve often ignored consequences; drunk off the adrenaline rush and for the most part got away with a majority of the poor choices I made. Right up until I met B.R.

You see B.R. was a bouncer at a popular nightclub I used to work at in Vancouver. He was gigantic. This was new to me, and I was attracted to the dangerous disposition he possessed. There were no boys or men like this at my boarding school or University. He was the unicorn I wanted to ride. My 19 year old self was fascinated by the celebrity status he appeared to have with crowds of people who’d line up outside and ask for him by name. He was the gatekeeper of all things cool to my little 19 year old brain. What I knew was that I wanted to be associated with that illusion of power and importance. And as things progressed it was just that…all an illusion.

I would learn as we began dating all about his criminal involvement, drug dealing, and of course the women he was still dealing with. You would think that all those red flags would be enough to high tail it in the other direction. Not this girl. I wanted more. I wanted to be a bad girl. The boarding school student, University student life was too vanilla for me. It bored me and I thought I could handle it, I mean I had a promising future what could shake that up?

I was getting a lot of attention at 19 as I had learned to embrace my shape and sporting a blonde T-Boz haircut. I was working the VIP section, serving athletes like Gary Payton when the Celtics were in town playing the Vancouver Grizzlies. It was the height of the R&B era in the clubs and it was a spectacular time to be in mix, where I was situated front and center. I was hooked and I couldn’t be swayed in any other direction.

As the courtship begun with B.R. I recall one night I would be followed from my work to my condo where a car pulled up in front of my gate in which a screaming tall blonde came plummeting out of her car to confront me. Allegedly I had stole her man. I hadn’t cared – I was seemingly winning the battle. She would continue to stalk my work place, bringing her friends to watch and attempt to intimidate me. I’d be told over and over I was the only one and made to feel that way as other girls would look on with what I had assumed was jealousy. I wish I had enough smarts then to have walked away…that would have been the first chance that I had to do so.

Eventually B.R. and I would move in together. To be honest there is a lot that I don’t remember but I know that it was filled with every kind of abuse under the sun. I was being groomed during this time to eventually be trafficked the way he saw fit or when I would be sold. Car notes, cell phones and insurance would be put in my name, where I had no idea. Bill collectors would call the home of my parents looking for me where I’d adamantly deny that the man I was with could not have done this to me. If I confronted him, I’d be met with painful and degrading verbal abuse that only sunk me further into the belief I was nothing without him. He would not return home for days, leaving me wondering where he was and who he was with. I’d sob on the floor of my shower waiting for is return which with every passing hour it would cut deeper and deeper into my self esteem and whatever pride I had left. He had been using drugs heavily during these times and would return home strung out and agitated, and I was oblivious to it. I hadn’t seen hard drugs and I didn’t know what hard drug use looked like. He’d come home one morning in a psychosis where I was woken up by him on top of me with a gun to my head, and in the next moment, it would go off accidentally; hitting the pillow and passing through the wall out the siding of the building. Another time him and his friend would rob our apartment, taking anything of value. He’d later try to say it was probably “one of my little boyfriends” which only was a way to deflect the heat away from him.

Another time I’d had enough after a terrible beating where I was able to get away and call police from a payphone on Davie Street. I’d make the mistake of telling police that he had a gun and where I believe he had gotten it from. I would learn that there was already an ongoing investigation involving the parties mentioned. That action in itself would make me fearful to live or return to Vancouver for almost a decade. Its the fear of those consequences that made me decide to join the same man that I had called police on in San Diego where he had managed to get past the border and elude police. You see I was 3 months pregnant by this time and a very damaged shell of a human being. B.R. had been successful in isolating me from my family and everyone or thing that loved me- having me to believe that my only option was him. I left with no warning and no belongings other than some clothes and whatever mementos I could pack in a couple of suitcases.

I’d spend the next 5 months living in San Diego. In the beginning my parents had worked with Vancouver City Police to locate me and they were successful however I was not able to provide a statement to police that I had been coerced to leave or had been kidnapped. The term “grooming” hadn’t really been a term used a lot in addition the way they had executed the search for me was terrifying. We had been surrounded by SWAT and when we were asked to exit guns were drawn and pointing at myself and him. I was under the impression I was in trouble and was going to do anything to get out of it. As I sat in the back of a cruiser and asked b a male tactical officer if “I was okay?” I remained silent. They would release me back to him where he’d unleash the worst beating I’d ever had experience from him resulting in chunks of my hair ripped from my head and a swollen jaw. I’d spend the remaining months stuck in a small apartment with no furniture, often hungry with no means of communication with the outside world. Sometimes I’d be able to walk a ways to find a payphone and call home where I’d tell my parents everything was good. I couldn’t risk another mess up like before.

They knew otherwise that I wasn’t at all good and as painful as it was they would await the moment I’d call and signal for help. As my baby grew bigger in my belly so did the desire to have enough strength to call and make arrangements for my escape. I’d walk in the hot San Diego sun down El Cajon Boulevard to that payphone and make a collect call to my mom and dad in British Columbia. My dad would leave their house immediately and make the 16 hour drive to com get me, only stopping for gas. When B.R. left that morning, I’d gather my belongings as quickly as possible and begin the drive home to Canada, back to safety as it seemed. I’d go onto to experience almost a year of peace from that day on starting my new life as a mom to my beautiful baby girl.

But a year is not long enough to undo the damage that had been done and in my loneliness I’d romanticize the idea that perhaps our daughter would soften his heart and encourage a new start. The communication started slow and I’d be suckered into believing that he was sorry. Somehow he’d miraculously been able to make it back over the boarder again to B.C. where he indicated he wanted to meet his daughter. Being a mother at 22, I faced some unique challenges with the familiar feeling of isolation happening to me again. My friends at this time were still in University and none of them to my knowledge could relate or empathize with the situation I had found myself in. I felt like I had no one to talk to and had not yet faced the ability to share with my parents what had happened to me. I had not yet even processed what had happened to me yet, I was just trying to survive and take care of my baby. I had not had a baby shower and the arrival of my daughter was not the celebratory affair that many of us experience in better circumstances. I had been so tired of everyone feeling sorry for me at this time and wanted to appear strong again. I was primed again to fall right back into the hands of the devil nd so I did.

It would not be long before things fell right back into the same cycle of of abuse again. And it would not take long for it all to come to the moment where I’d live or die. And unlike the fog surrounding all of the other terrible accounts of abuse, this last time I would remember every minute. It would start on a Saturday morning when I’d be dropped off by a girlfriend who’s house I would have stayed at that night. My daughter was away visiting her grandmother for the weekend and I for the first time in over a year would go to a pub. I’d arrive at my little apartment I had gotten where I’d be met in the hallway by B.R. My house had been trashed and I could see my daughters toys, clothing and other belongings had been thrown out of the window as well in the dumpster below. I’d be accused of being with other men that night and called every disgusting name in the book over and over. When I had tried to leave I would be dragged to the bedroom where I was held for the next 24 hours. I would be punched so hard in the head I’d blackout and wake up hours later with him above me, spitting hateful things. I’d be allowed to take a shower to wash off the spit and urine that had been thrown on me, only to corner me more and have more urine and feces thrown at me. He’d rape me on the floor several times, choking me until I’d pass out. I’d pretend to be dead, in fact I thought I was, breathing shallow enough as to not give off movement in my chest. This would scare him enough to finally get up and leave the apartment. Hours later when I felt safe to move I’d find my way to the neighbors and call police for only the second time on him. My neighbor would then tell me that she heard me screaming but wasn’t sure what to do. He’d go to jail for a few months and then finally deported.

I’d never return again to a life with him, or maintain any contact, My daughter would never know her father and for all the right reasons. I would spare her and my family the gruesome details that I feared so much would shape their opinions of me. The same fear I face in sharing these details with you all. Other than the courts and the police who took my statements I would share only snippets of what I had endured. Last year I finally completed my trauma therapy, and would be delighted to find out that trauma therapy would not entail me to re-hash every painful detail I had carried on my shoulders for almost 2 decades. I’d learn so much about my resilience and finally begin to release the sense of shame I had carried with me for so long. You see shifting my perspective from being a victim of domestic violence, to being a survivor of domestic violence, has been monumental in my healing and ability to speak out proudly on the topic. The moment when I pretended to be dead was not an act of giving up, it was the will to live another day, and the moment that changed the outcome that allows me to be here today. It is what has allowed me to carry on working with families and children that encounter domestic violence, and what helps me engage with other girls facing sexual exploitation. It’s what lead me to a career in social work for the last 15 years. So many great things came from being a survivor and I feel just as passionate for others facing the same opportunity to change their outcomes.

As I conclude the hardest piece of writing I have ever done, I encourage you to connect with me if my story resonated with you. If I can be of any help, direct you to resources, safe houses, or be an ear to listen to please reach out! I urge others to talk about their experiences with trusted people who can offer a good ear or wisdom that may surprise you. Survivors are everywhere, even among those who seem like they have it all together. Below I have left a few tips to consider if you or a loved one is facing domestic violence.

What should I do to protect myself from domestic violence during the pandemic?

Links to services

Look Out for Warning Signs

Put a plan together if someone you are living with is:

  • being verbally or emotionally hurtful.
  • threatening you.
  • having episodes of explosive anger.
  • harming animals.

Steps You Can Take to Keep Yourself and Others Safe

  1. Find a place you can retreat to safely. Avoid the bathroom or kitchen.
  2. Enlist support from a trusted friend or family member you can call.
  3. If necessary, use a code word or phrase to indicate you need help.
  4. Memorize phone numbers of people and agencies you might need to call in an emergency.
  5. Make sure you can easily access:
    • cash.
    • identification (Social Security card and driver’s license).
    • birth and marriage certificates.
    • credit cards, safe deposit box keys and bank information.
    • health insurance information.
    • any documentation, photos, medical or police reports relating to previous episodes of abuse.

Are there apps or interventions for domestic abuse?

If you are feeling unsafe but are unsure if someone you are living with is being abusive, apps may help provide some clarity on whether or not you are at risk.

MyPlan is an app for anyone having issues in a relationship, COVID-19 related or not. The app can help users determine if a partner’s behavior is showing signs of abuse. Also, users can get connected to resources personalized to their situation and their life priorities.

In-person interventions can work, too. Strength at Home is a program offered by the U.S. Veterans Administration to address the problem of veterans using violence against their domestic partners. It serves as a way to help address abusive behavior without demonizing the abuser. Random controlled trials have demonstrated that the program is effective.

Bell Lets Talk Day 2021- CECE D. Walks the TALK.

What is #BellLetsTalk? Mental health campaign to raise awareness

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day- And unless you are some kind of superhuman, you are really feeling it right now. Feeling the isolation, loneliness and just overall weight of the world while everything hangs in uncertainty.

So Lets Talk. And let me remind those that you are not alone in how you feel.

I commonly get the statement from friends and peers that I always seem to come across like I have it together. And in all honesty I’m not really sure why, as I’m fairly transparent; I always assumed my brand of crazy came across pretty clearly. I cycle from being sometimes quite

You see, I have struggled with depression for the last 10 years. It wouldn’t be until the last 3 years that I was diagnosed with not only depression, but anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder and PTSD. And it would be only in the last 3 years that I have consistently remained on medication as well as accessed therapeutic supports to manage what I’m going to assume something I will need to treat for the remainder of my life. I used to go off medications when I had assumed I had gotten better, only to find myself rapidly deteriorate and in the same spot as before- the gutter. I had assumed that depression only needed to be treated when you were at your worst, and it was something you treated until you felt better or that you no longer needed medication. I couldn’t have been more wrong when it came to myself and what I needed to remain well and stable.

Let me also share that my health and wellness not only depends on medication, but therapy and a consistent awareness around advocating for self care and healthy boundaries. I rely on exercise, my family, and doing the things that keep me hopeful, busy and passionately engaged. With the current lock down here in Alberta and the frigid weather, my Mental Health- specifically my anxiety is through the damn roof. I’m not OKAY!

Time for some honesty…isn’t this what this is all about.

Last week my boyfriend had let the dog outside in the middle of the night to go pee. She has been doing thing lately where she comes to the door to come in, but then doesn’t want to come in, she wants you to come out and play. So she was doing this dance repeatedly and was refusing to come in despite multiple attempts. I was in bed, but for some reason started to become anxious about, what if she gets out of the yard, what if she eats something she shouldn’t be, what if someone comes and steals her. My boyfriend who was dealing with it saw me get up to get her in. I literally could not go to sleep until she was in. My boyfriend who “had it”, saw that I was circling and wanting to take control. He told me to back off and go to sleep. I simply could not. I went as far as making an excuse to go downstairs and make toast in the middle of the night so I could intervene and bring her in. Not surprisingly, she did the same to me and wouldn’t come in. Then I started a fight. I got so angry because I felt my boyfriend was impeding on my need to ease my anxiety and I felt powerless. We fought the next day about it until I told him what was happening for me. He understood and wished I had just shared what was going on. To be honest I was embarrassed that such a small thing caused me to loose all sense of reality and faith in him, not to mention my back yard is 100% safe.

Yesterday I had received a call at 5:15pm on one of my files and I knew that the following day would be a literal shit show. I was already anticipating the level of work that I’d be facing, and began to do the work in my head that could have waited. It snowballed from there. I became fidgety, then itchy, then completely restless as I could not settle myself into bed. I began to pace, went pee like 8 times, fumbled around for things that I was trying to organize for the next day. Then I couldn’t find my medication and began worrying that my dog ate it as I had found a rogue lid from prescriptions past. I began searching my car, purses, laundry, dogs mouth…this went on for an hour. I finally found it- it had fallen into my top drawer, clearly fumbling out of the bag I hold it in safely so that my dog can’t get a hold of it. But before I could actually honor the care I typically take around my dogs safety I was sure my dog was going to die- despite her totally normal behavior. This my friends is anxiety. It trumps any kind of confidence you have in yourself.

After this it would take almost the entirety of the night for my partner who now recognized the signs that I was spiraling. I would cry and release all of the worry, sharing things that were even alarming to myself. I would tell him that I was feeling like what is the purpose of living right now and that I felt like there is nothing that provides me hope that resolve or normalcy is near. I told him I was exhausted with staying positive and working so hard to keep it together. “Everyday feels the same,” I feel like everyday, and everyday I feel alone.” I feel alone at work when I go to an office that only allows one team member there at a time, so I don’t see my co-workers. I feel alone in all my meetings I hold as I meet with strangers from behind masks, and deal with serious issues, for me to deal with alone. I feel alone as I walk through a city, only seeing eyes that show no smiles or expression as they are protected behind masks. I feel invisible as others don’t see my smiles directed at them and ignored as they cannot see my desire to connect. I told him I feel like “I’m walking in a world of zombies.” I continued to scratch and rub my body and face as the energy released itself from my body. He would hold me tight me, keep me grounded in an embrace that was enough to lull me to sleep finally after 5 straight hours of this.

I woke up this morning tired obviously, but I bravely put one step in front of the other, had a shower, took my medication and reached out to a few friends. I shared that I was struggling, and they listened and told me they too were feeling the same way. I felt comforted that they too were “crazy” like me, and in fact not crazy at all but human.

I continue to hope the gyms open up, I need to move and I need to release this toxic energy in my body. As we await to hear whether things will open up I continue to consider other alternatives. I thought to myself, maybe I will take up a friends advise and go purchase a CBD pen to use before bed, or maybe I’d just go ahead and take an edible…at this rate I’m open to anything!

I hope you all can share your stories on Bell Let’s Talk Day so that we can continue to build a community of acceptance with normalizing Mental Health discussions.

Working From Home: Why Can’t I just Love it?

Cookiebitch: I WORK BETTER PANTLESS

I believe that everyone is having a variation of experiences with regards to the new norm of working at home. Our jobs and careers are all so different and require different elements of support, equipment, and the tools to continue staying efficient while no longer having a standard office set-up.

I know for myself since the pandemic hit I went from being excited about setting up a home office whereby I believed I would work diligently at my newly purchased white and gray marbled desk. Admittedly I created a beautiful and peaceful space to work in, however the aesthetic aspect of it wasn’t enough to keep me in my guest room slash/office. We were urged to bring home our work stations in order to emulate some sense of normalcy while at home working, but the concept quickly lost its magic. I hated working in a room that I had no attachment too and perpetuated a deeper sense of isolation. Thankfully by that time Spring was upon us and I moved my office onto my patio where I was able to feel more comfortable and productive. I flourished from the Vitamin D and ability to work at a much slower pace than I had in the 15 years I’ve spent working as a social worker in child welfare. I also knew that it was going to be vital to collect my strength, get my rest, and prepare for the storm ahead. What I didn’t expect was catching Covid-19 which would derail my plan to stay on top of the game, and ultimately put me on my ass for months. You can read about my experience HERE.

And as the months went on I would continue to try and remind myself there once was a time we’d get excited about our requested days to work from home in our pajamas. In the world of social work we call these “Paper Days” and in order to get a paper day you’d have to be extremely overdue on your paperwork and jump through multiple hoops to justify why you needed to be away from the office. These days were great and I just loved them! So you can imagine the internal conflict and confusion I’m feeling now that I live in a constant hiatus of paper day’s and somehow I’m miserable? But it looks like I’m not alone.

But like many things you never really realize what you have until its gone. I truly believe that in job roles within the human services sector and the health care system we are nothing without our team. When we are together there is shared sense of responsibility as we hardly ever work in isolation but rather engage in a consistent flow of dialogue that impacts how we practice. The influences we have on one another is invaluable learning that allows us to serve the public in positive and creative ways. Not only in regards to how we approach and proceed with the important work we do, but how our morale and personal emotional wellness can dictate better outcomes for the communities we serve. Just today we met via videoconference and were collectively brought to tears by the bravery and strength that has been demonstrated among us. Each person simultaneously dealing with their own personal anxiety, worries and challenges while serving the city’s most vulnerable youth and families who’s issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet continue to smile and encourage each other in small ways that validates we are in it together.

I feel like their bravery inspires me to pull up my socks and adapt to the new circumstances whereby I’m able to weave the silver linings into a broader concept of appreciation. I should feel so lucky that my ability to work from home is not complicated with daycare/school disruptions and closures. I don’t have the burden of home schooling children with my depressing remedial math skills, or worry about them interrupting my zoom calls. The worst I deal with is maybe my mothers oblivious decision to start vacuuming at the same moment I’m giving a presentation. Try coming back from that distraction unscathed.

So like I said, I often need to take a tally of the good things that exist because I’m working from home more than I could have ever imagined. And as a result there have been many unforseen blessings along the way.

For me its things like being able to spend my days with my new puppy who requires a lot of attention and training. If we were working in office she would be essentially crated all day, and that’s no life for a pup. In addition to this, I feel like I have my very own therapy dog available to me throughout the day to pet, hug and play with when I need a mental break. I love looking up from my computer to catch her clumsily playing about-it brings a genuine smile to my face every time.

Additionally, its given me time with my mother who is aging and has been isolated at home for the bulk of the last 8 months as a result of the pandemic. And if you catch me on a day she isn’t driving me bananas I’d gladly admit I appreciate this precious time with her.

I’m cooking more, which means I’m eating more, but nonetheless I’m cooking in a kitchen. Being at home allows me to spend the time to prepare meals and eat out less. I’m falling in love with creating great and delicious meals whereby cooking had lost its appeal for awhile.

Practicing self discipline is another element to working from home that I have benefited from. I imagine many business owners can attest to setting their own work schedules, and can comprehend what happens if they slack off. I for one have learned that everyday needs to be guided by a strict task list of to-do’s that I have laid out in my calendar as a reminder to abide by. straying from this can leave me feeling nervous or ill prepared in the case things become too out of control and I don’t have the familiar supports available to guide me through the snowball effect that occurs often in my field.

In Addition to this, I’ve been able to predict my days better whereby I can schedule breaks in my day to actually take a break. Prior to working from home I’d take my breaks at my desk, eating my lunch and still work at the same time. Now I’ll schedule it into my day and take my pup to the dog park, go for a bike ride along the river, go for a walk, attend the gym or take in a massage. These things would have been unheard of before.

Lastly my team has continued to engage in new habits to stay connected and supportive with one another. I’ve never been a fan of group chats but I make an exception with this group chat. It has been fun to bounce our sarcasm back and forth as a reminder that we are all in this together and all equally at the mercy of a pandemic that is effecting us in varying ways. What’s been unique has been the shift from solely professional relationships into an extended family we can count on.

The benefits of working from home obviously go beyond my personal accounts, and are inspiring companies to consider it for the long haul.

In an article I read titled “The Benefits of Working From Home: Why The Pandemic Isn’t the Only Reason to Work Remotely,” touch on a few other benefits. They mention Less Commute Stress, A Happier, Healthier Work Life, and Fiscal Savings.

According to FlexJobs’ 2019 Annual Survey, 78 per cent of people said having a flexible job would allow them to be healthier (eat better, exercise more, and so on) and 86 per cent said they’d be less stressed.

“You get benefits from increased physical activity, mental-health benefits from reduced stress, increased family time,” says Trevor Hancock, retired professor and senior scholar, school of public health and social policy, University of Victoria. “Once we stop running like hamsters on a wheel, [we can] look around and almost literally smell the roses.”

In addition, articles like the one in the New York Times, surveyed that the average office worker revealed they used to spend nearly an hour every single day commuting to and from their jobs — that’s five hours each week office workers could get back by working from home. And with less commuting there is less carbon footprint. According to Global Workplace Analytics, part-time remote work in the U.S. could slow carbon emissions by more than 51 million metric tonnes annually. Carbon footprints also diminish with reduced office energy, less business travel, and paper usage, it says. Meanwhile—with idling traffic accounting for three billion gallons of fuel and 26 million extra tons of emitted greenhouse gases—a one per cent reduction in vehicles on the roads could yield a three-fold decrease in congestion. Even roadway construction from wear and tear could be reduced by 112 billion miles a year, it says.

I enourage you to go forward and reflect on some of the benefits you had not anticipated on since working from home. Share them with me in the comment section below.

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