Mental Resilience in Facing Covid-19

We may not realise it but all of us have been resilient at some point in our lives. If you were to chart the highs and lows of the past year based on how you felt about events, chances are that you would find that you have been through both smooth and difficult times. Yet you have found the strength to bounce back from each low period. This demonstrates resilience in action. Rather than forcing yourself to clench your teeth and push through something, mental resilience is when you get up, dust yourself off and try again after a fall.

In light of the current Covid-19 situation, if the recent months have been bumpy for you, you are definitely not alone. As I share my personal experience with you, please bear in mind that I am not offering any professional opinions but merely being open about my reality and what has worked for me.

When Covid-19 first appeared on the news, I barely paid any attention to it. I never imagined it would grow to impact my life to the extent it has in recent weeks. Exactly a week before our government raised the DORSCON level to orange, I still took the leap of faith and resigned from my first full time job of 5.5 years. This move had long been planned since the end of last year. My initial plan was to rest, travel, explore and seek out new career paths. However with each passing day, more and more events were cancelled; eventually my long awaited holiday was also cancelled. With each successive closed door, I felt increasingly defeated. In the face of such repeated disappointments, I found that resilience in mental health was what carried me through.

At that time, I was overwhelmed with anxiety especially regarding the future. My mood, motivation and everything just crumbled. Many people, although well meaning, expressed their concern by criticising my earlier decision to resign. In my defence, I could only say that I didn’t expect Covid-19 to become so serious. The 2 main things that held me back from adapting were first, a refusal to accept reality and second, I was too preoccupied with throwing a pity party for myself. Thankfully I was involved in co-producing content for the upcoming peer support group in RC. Whenever we did check-ins to see how everyone was doing at our meetings, I felt like I was part of a mental health support group. Even now, I find a sense of community when I join the virtual coffee online meetings hosted by RC. When I realised I was not alone in being affected by Covid-19, I began my slow climb up from the bottom.

Furthermore, I am also thankful to be regularly seeing a counsellor whom I can click with. When I shared my setbacks with her, she encouraged me to open my mind to alternative outcomes rather than insisting on my way. As I took up her advice, I found myself gradually coming to an acceptance of reality. In the weeks that followed, I observed that I began adapting faster to each new development. When the extension of the circuit breaker was announced, I was initially upset but managed to bounce back within the same day. The circuit breaker period has been a very sobering season for me. As I found the courage to face my reality, I am aware that the job market is not good now and am prepared to take beyond the end of this year to find a suitable job. In the meantime, I likely have to go out of my comfort zone to find ways to support myself.

Having things not go my way has certainly taught me much. I realised that there was so much I could learn when I began to create meaning for what I went through. It certainly isn’t possible for me to provide an exhaustive list of the lessons I learnt here so I will just share briefly. Every moment spent in self pity will come to pass; every moment spent trying to make the most of what you have will also come to pass. Why not choose to make the most of what you have now? It is also my deepest hope that these experiences may be shared to encourage others in the future. That there is a purpose to all this that may be uncovered on hindsight. Perhaps it is also to uplift you, who are reading this sentence right now.

In closing, mental resilience in my opinion, is something that we will continue to learn about across our lifetimes. Maybe there is no true end image of what you should look like when you have mastered resilience in mental health. What worked for me in this season, is to face reality, make the most of what I have and find meaning for my setbacks. Now, it is your turn to journey and discover what works for you. Perhaps that might change as you grow in maturity but whatever it is you find, don’t forget to enjoy the process!

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Authored by: Tan Lay Cheng. Lay Cheng believes that humour is essential in life. She is up for fried chicken and ice cream any time (yums!). She believes that she can learn something from each person she meets as every individual is unique, valuable and worthy.

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