Now that the novelty of living life in a pandemic has worn off, we’re finding ourselves feeling more tired, sad and on-edge. But that’s totally normal under the circumstances. Dr. H opens up about how he’s been feeling lately and asks listeners to do the same.
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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.
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Or if you prefer, a transcript of this episode can be found below.
Dr. Hallowell: This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega three supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, with a mini episode of Distraction. As you know, during this pandemic, we’ve been every week giving a what we’re calling a mental health check-in, and this is number six. What I thought I’d talk about today was prompted by our producer, Sarah Guertin, who said, “We’ve been doing this long enough now that the novelty has worn off.” We’re settling into the reality of shelter-at-home and now whatever that means where you are, it means different things for different people in different places.
But for most of us, it’s a radical change from what we’re customarily doing every day. Puts us at home, most of us for most of the time, with limited access to the outside world and that is having interesting effects. I mean, I can tell you personally, I feel more tired every day than I’m accustomed to feeling. I am seeing patients, but all over Zoom or virtual. So I’m not seeing any patients face-to-face. And I do go into my office some days and I see the support staff there, we are essential and they are not infected. So I have some human contact there.
But other than my wife, I don’t mean other than, I mean she’s the center of it all, but it’s nowhere near the person-to-person contact that I used to have. And I really do believe that takes a toll. I talk all the time about vitamin C, vitamin connect, it’s real. And I think if there’s a precipitous decline in the number of living human beings that you come into contact with every day, every week, it drains you. And I think that’s why I’m more tired. I think I haven’t been getting the dose of vitamin connect that I need. I mean, I tried to get it with email and of course my Zoom sessions with my patients and time with my wife and all that.
But I just think the fatigue I’m feeling, and I think it’s because I’m not getting the people that I need in my day. And I’m talking about people at the gas station or people at whatever markets I might go to, not to mention my patients and my friends and the Tuesday afternoon when I’d play squash and go up for a beer with my friend after it. All of that, none of that’s happening.
And I think it’s tiring because of what we’re not getting. I’m not working any harder. I’m seeing roughly the same amount of patients. I’m working on my book roughly the same amount. I think it’s the withdrawal of that vitamin connect that, you can still get it online virtually, but it’s not the same. And there is something about what I call the human moment to be distinguished from the electronic moment, that is just very powerful. And I believe we’re seeing it up close and personal now, how powerful the human moment is and how much we do need each other in person face-to-face.
Now I’m not saying run out and break the protocol and break the rules. Please don’t. We don’t want to have a resurgence of the pandemic. We don’t want to have phase two be worse than phase one. I’m just saying that I think we’re paying maybe an unanticipated price when we give one another up. As much as we complain about each other, as much as we complain about traffic and crowds and crowded supermarket aisles and crowded schools, crowded school meetings, crowded churches, crowded synagogues, I think we need those crowds in some very real and visceral way that we’re discovering now.
I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure it’s happening to a lot of people, where you just feel more tired because you’re not getting the invigorating effect that person-to-person contact has ,that what I call vitamin connect. And I’m telling you, it’s as important if not more important, in fact, I know what’s more important, than ascorbic acid. We don’t have a name for it, the deficiency, like we do with scurvy when you don’t get enough vitamin C, but we ought to name whatever, this is, not enough of the human moment, not enough of vitamin connect.
It’s tiring, mildly depressing. It’s not depression per se, but it’s a life without that zip, that zest that you get from the smile of the person you’re seeing across the table from you, from the energy you feel in the restaurant or the bar or the barbershop, the hair salon. I don’t know where I’m going to get my hair cut now. Or the street is empty, all of that. All of that that we get from being close to living people. And as I said, as annoying as it can be, I think we’re now seeing how vital it is in terms of our energy, wellbeing, joie de vivre, elan vital, call it whatever you want.
I think we’re really discovering how much we need each other in physical being, present with one another. We’ll get it back, don’t worry. But I think it is a time where we’re discovering the interpersonal force that we don’t have a name for, but how fortifying it is for us and how much we miss it now that we don’t have it.
Well, let me know if that resonates with you all. I’d love to hear your opinion because this is something that I’ve just been thinking about. I’d love to hear your opinion. If you identify with that, please let us know. Send us a note at [email protected]. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and meanwhile stay connected safely, as best you can, and look forward to the day when we can once again meet in person. With all best wishes, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction.
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Distraction is a project of Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and edited by the marvelously talented Pat Keogh. And our producer is the extraordinarily talented Sarah Guertin.
The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.