The line “Keep the rage tender” from the poem “Therapy” by Nayyirah Waheed expresses how I feel about the year 2020. I was angry, depressed, and grieving about what happened last year; but having a kind heart toward myself and others softened the blow. I have learned to live softly and slowly in this new normal. This pandemic had affected my mental health in ways that I had not experienced in years. Being cut off from the world and the major disruption in routine caused me to fall into a deep depression and even had me relapse into psychosis over the summer last year.

Because of my relapse I am more than ever seeking to find joy in small things, little blessings like the sight of flowers or even getting out of bed in the morning. Living in a society that is constantly go go go, work work work, takes away the recognition of daily blessings and tenderness in our lives. Not having the time or mental space to live slowly creates a constant fatigue, and as much as I believe this with my whole heart, I still struggle getting my brain to slow down. So, the days I felt depressed and became frustrated with myself were an unwelcome guest in an already tumultuous pandemic-era existence.

But one thing that has allowed me to cope is creating art. Art has always been a healing tool for me. It’s a form of therapy. I’m able to express my hardships and struggles in a physical way, using my hands and the tools in front of me. I work with my hands to create something I’m proud of and feel accomplished from. During the pandemic, I’ve leaned more toward crafting things, creations I can touch, feel, and move. I started working with clay, yarn, and metal. Learning how to do new projects from trying and failing to trying again has been a great teaching method for me. I found myself realizing that all my “failures” are just learning experiences, and not setbacks at all. I’ve learned to be more patient with my craft and kinder to my mistakes. Something I started recently, weaving, has taught me the importance of slowing down and taking time to breathe in the moment, not to think about the future or the anxieties that come with it.

Making small changes in how I feel joy has made a big impact on my mental health. This has been a sad time for everyone, we all feel the strain. Relapse has happened to me, to many, but feeling this grief together and creating a space where it is okay to not be okay is important for us to heal. I don’t feel like I wasted away in 2020, but instead I feel like I grew and evolved emotionally and creatively as a human being.

Rebecca B.
Peer Support Specialist