It’s March 2021, and here we are. This March, we may still feel stuck, tired of, or frustrated with limited socializing, no really safe playing, or less than regular physical connection. Sometimes, it may seem like there is a fog in your head and when you try to clear it, it stays a bit foggy.
Foggy brain is now a thing, with the media and medical professionals recently announcing that it’s real. And my reply is yes, it is very real. Some scientists attribute it to having had COVID-19, and it being an aftereffect.
Whether you have had the virus or somehow escaped it, you may have felt brain-weary at times. I named this feeling “Crowded Brain.” But what caused that crowdedness, that tightness? Brains are supposed to be flexible, and since they reside in finite space like a head, crowded brains can actually hurt, sometimes with a headache of some sort. What a year for crowded brains to be overstressed!
Throughout the past 15 months, many stressors have been present in our lives, and each had the potential to crowd the brain. As far back as December 2019, we learned about the massive bushfires in Australia, which took over 47 million acres, destroyed many peoples’ homes and businesses, and killed countless animals in that region. The grief was overwhelming even from that one event. There was so much more to take in, so much pain to follow, that we learned a lot about resilience.
When the mainstream media first announced that there was a new virus, Coronavirus, out of China, there seemed to be no rush to find out more about how it would impact the USA. The date was January 9, 2020, and for a few months, we were in limbo about where COVID-19 was going, who would be most vulnerable, or was it a hoax. Over 2.62 million people worldwide have died (to date), and the pandemic rages on. The stressors associated with it remain health-related, economic, social justice issues, self-esteem and confidence-related, as well as issues surrounding all types of relationships. Under the umbrella of this Pandemic, we also experienced:
1. The first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump.
2. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, May 25, 2020, broadcast live.
3. The Black Lives Matters Movement (2013 – present) was vital in the protests that erupted after George Floyd was killed.
4. In June 2020, Joe Biden clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination.
5. Protests, embracing other Black Americans who were killed, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, lasted for months.
6. On August 23, 2020, Jacob Black was shot multiple times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leaving him critically injured. The Kenosha protests lasted for months.
7. Kamala Harris was chosen as Biden’s Vice-Presidential running mate, announced August 11, 2020, making history in multiple ways.
8. California wildfires in 2020 took an estimated 4,000,000 acres.
9. Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43, August 8, 2020. This was a loss that added to deep grief felt by many, especially in the African American community.
10. Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on September 18, 2020, creating another vacancy on the Supreme Court for former President Trump to fill, his third pick. In the spirit of March celebrating Women’s History Month, let’s take a minute to think of RBG and her service on the Supreme Court, and for women’s rights.
11. Joseph R. Biden was elected as President of the United States on November 7, 2020, after an excruciatingly intense and stressful campaign.
12. Alex Trebek, beloved host of Jeopardy for 36 years, died of cancer. He was part of so many lives every night.
13. Since the election victory of President Biden and VP Harris, there has been a hate campaign waged, pushing lies surrounding the election results. We are still living with that stress.
14. On December 14, the first Americans were given the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.
15. On January 5, 2021, Georgia elected two Democratic Senators in a runoff, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in a history-making event.
16. The very next day, January 6, 2021, a violet mob stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The horrendous and dangerous attempted coup was televised from start to finish, because it was the day President Biden would be certified by Congress. A very upsetting day for most of us.
17. The second Impeachment trial of Donald Trump began.
18. Inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, January 20, 2021. Event was without incident, and very positive for those who observed.
Is there any wonder that there is simply not ample space in your mind, in your thought-bank, with which to process much more? The list is long and incomplete, because there will never really be a way to evaluate which events took up more space than others in a crowded brain. One thing will remain, however, and that is the certainty that the pandemic period, filled with all these charged events, will stay with us.
Please remind yourself that connections, whether old, close friendships or trusted new ones, are vital for the positive self-care we all must continue to practice. Reach out to your friends. Take a planned walk. Use the sun to your advantage. This is a marvelous time in our beloved city! Do it now, soon and often. Be well, friends.
Dr. Catherine Roland, LPC, is a therapist in private practice, specializing in our LGBTQ+ community for 25 years. Catherine is a member of the Board of Directors of both CrescentCare-NO/AIDS Task Force, and Sage/New Orleans NOAGE