"The Mind Is Its Own Place"

There are Americans that are depressed and feel threatened, and find it difficult to confront life's tribulations.

December 28, 2020

Should auld acquaintance be forgot/ and never brought to mind? / should auld acquaintance be forgot/ and days of auld lang syne?” The lyrics from the old classic song “Auld Lang Syne” that rings in the New Year will have an even greater significance as we come to the end of 2020.

The American people and the world, have had to endure a year of great trial and tribulation. The devastation of the Coronavirus, aside from the physical and tragic life-ending results, is the mental and emotional state of mind of the people. Loss of jobs and security, isolation, closures, lockdowns, financial crises, unemployment, riots, protests, a divided nation and government, self-serving politicians, a biased and corrupt media, and lest we forget, the presidential election, all have had a catastrophic effect across all demographic and age groups.

Governors, especially Democrats, have implemented draconian measures to quell the spread of the virus, but with what seems little regard for the impact. Businesses have closed, livelihoods jeopardized or destroyed, houses of worship had to close their doors for a period, and now they are ordered to limit the number of worshippers. All of these severe actions have led many Americans to seek professional help to deal with depression, stress, and anxiety. Incidents of abuse and divorce are on the rise, and sadly the only alternative some felt they had left was suicide.

In Paradise Lost, John Milton wrote “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”  Seasonal Affective Disorder is brought on by the change of season, many know the feeling as the winter doldrums; this is further impacted by the Holiday season blues that many suffer even without the virus exacerbating the already existing mental strain. As 2020 comes to a close many of us will look back, say good riddance, and hope the New Year brings us salvation from all this mayhem.

The Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a recent survey of 5470 Americans; 25% of the respondents said they suffer from symptoms of trauma and stress caused by the pandemic. Dr. Maggie Mulqueen is a practicing psychologist who has consulted for the Center of Addiction Studies at Cambridge City Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She recently expressed her experience with many who have sought help. “People forget there are those who have been isolated, or are in dysfunctional or difficult relationships, or have already been strained by loneliness for months on end, or have lost loved ones.”

Dr. Mulqueen continued “The American culture says to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, buck up, it's fine and not the end of the world. What that does is to shut people down, and that causes them to feel shame on top of depression. Then they will stop sharing, and that’s dangerous.”

In these troubling and disheartening times, we tend to think back to the way things were, nostalgic for times and years past, what we had that is now gone; the people, places we knew, family, friends, the workplace and associates, talk around the water cooler, going to a movie and favorite restaurant, visiting a museum and library, all these things we took for granted earlier in life, come rushing back and we wonder if they will ever return as they once were, the way we knew them.

I believe they will return; the American spirit is indomitable, her people for the most part are good, decent, and God-fearing, and are not in the habit of giving up and giving in. We will persevere and move on to new horizons, whoever is in power and whatever they do, good or bad.      

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