A Note From the NAMI Skagit President
The Skagit NAMI Board has been busy thinking about how it can best support its NAMI Skagit members in the face of so many unknowns and keep its members, volunteers and Board members safe during this global pandemic. When the Board recently met we discussed the many challenges the virus has likely presented for all the people with
mental illness including our members, their family members, loved ones and friends. To say it has increased people’s anxiety is likely an understatement.
It seems one cannot turn on the TV, radio, or go down a street without hearing about and / or seeing a sign reminding us about COVID-19, the Pandemic of our era. What can I say that you haven’t already heard that would be enough to ease the pain, anxiety or distress that many of us have experienced as a result of this virus? All of us have heard the dos and don’ts about staying safe and keeping others safe but what isn’t being talked about enough is the life altering experience this virus has brought about for most of humanity, regardless of our status or station in life. We are all in the same boat, so to speak, and it has likely changed many aspects of the way we will encounter the world going forward.
I was listening to an NPR interview last week with author, Stephen Batchelor who was sharing some of the content of his book, The Art of Solitude, and the message therein. It got me thinking about this strange time we have been thrust into where we are confined to our homes, our yards, or forced to walk alone on the sidewalk, keep 6 feet distance between ourselves and others in all settings. It has required we now do telephone counseling, or “zoom” with the therapist or doctors and even with our own family members who live across town. I thought about all the people who have suffered more with the pain of isolation and loneliness at the hand of this virus and doing my best to remain an optimist, I began thinking about the upside to being alone. I was struck by something the author shared and it follows here:
“Strangely and interestingly, one of the great challenges of a life is
to learn to be alone peaceably, at home in oneself. And now we have
all at once, by way of a virus, been sent inside physically and
emotionally, even if we’re not home on our own. We’re forced, at
best, to work out the difference between isolation and loneliness or
an ease within the aloneness inside ourselves: solitude. “
I invite each of us to ponder the concept of solitude. In our English language solitude means something different from loneliness and something different still from being alone. Solitude does not have to mean lonely nor alone. I invite each of you to think about your own Silver Lining of Solitude and focus on the positive aspect of spending time alone with your “self” and what inherent opportunities this moment in our human history, your own history has brought you.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and NAMI Skagit would like to mark this important month with an event; a virtual art show to showcase whatever conclusions you come to about your own silver lining of solitude. We invite you to create any type of art you see fit, whether it be drawing, painting, poetry, sculpture, photography, a short story, a song, whatever appeals to you and that demonstrates or illustrates the positive side of solitude you have found. Take a photo of your creation and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it on the Nami Skagit website on the Virtual Art Show. If you do not have the means to take a photo please email a request to arrange drop off of your art and include your phone number and someone will contact you to arrange to receive your art at the office. Remember my friends, wear the green ribbon in May to show you support Mental Health Awareness Month.
Please take care of yourselves,
Judy L. Heinemann
NAMI Skagit President