Hello, everyone, welcome to Episode 12. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode of The More Than You See podcast hosted by me; actor, filmmaker, mental health advocate Deborah Lee Smith. Every Monday, I come to you to share some resources, have a conversation, and generally just dive into all sorts of topics around mental health. I am not a licensed practitioner or therapist, but just a woman exploring my own mental health journey, and sharing it with you, my listeners. My hope is that this podcast brings you some joy, some personal understanding, and some tools so that you can build your own mental health toolbox.
Thank you so much, everyone for joining me for another episode, Episode 12. As I went into last week, this is actually going to be the final episode of kind of our little mini season, I'm going to be doing a short little hiatus because I've got some format changes that are going to be happening, and I need to do some prep work on that. And I also need to take care of my own mental health, and I need a couple weeks to breathe. So we are going to be coming back again, May 3 is going to be our next episode. And that is going to be as I said, a little bit of a new format. That is also the start of Mental Health Month, which is in May, and I'm really excited to be doing some extra things around mental health during that month. So be sure that you are following us on Instagram and Facebook and the Twitter and all of the things that because I will be exploring some new ways to celebrate ourselves during May Mental Health Month.
I also hope that this gives everyone a couple weeks to go back, relisten to an episode that maybe really resonated with you, that you want to relisten to. Please continue to share and rate and review and subscribe to this podcast. The more people who see this, the more that it will spread to the masses. And it just makes me so happy that I can contribute to the conversation in this way. And you sharing is also contributing. And I just I'm I'm so grateful for this community who has created this podcast right alongside me. Additionally, again, if you have a story that you want to share, please send me a voice message. Just like we did on the episode last week all about brain chemistry, I had Helenna send in a voice message about her own experience with being on OCD medication. And I think that it's really important to have other voices in this podcast. So if there is a story that you want to share about yourself, please feel free to contact me and figure out how you want to do it. It can be anonymous, or you are welcome to you know, share your name as well, whatever you are most comfortable with.
Okay, today's episode, my goodness, I feel like today's episode is going to be a little bit of a doozy. But I really felt that it was important to address this before I went on this little mini break. Because is anyone else feeling extra anxious with the fact that the world is opening up? I know you can't see me, but I am raising my hand. I am very grateful that I have actually had both rounds of my vaccine. And I am just a few weeks away from being fully vaccinated. So I'm very excited about that. But the anxiety that I have had has only increased over the past couple of weeks. And I know that I am not alone in feeling like this. And so I want to address this.
First of all, I want to remind everyone that we have not just gone through a global pandemic. We have also gone through global collective trauma, we are experiencing trauma and not only our own personal trauma, and however that has manifested itself whether we have lost family members. Whether we have lost friends, whether we have lost jobs or opportunities, everyone has lost something or someone in this pandemic and it is so it's a lot to process. But not only is it individual, but it is also global, it is also worldwide. And so you probably are not only experiencing your own trauma, you're also experiencing the trauma of the people that you surround yourself with. And just the world - the news - and I think that that's really important to recognize the fact that that is reality.
I think it's also really important to recognize the fact that this trauma, and trauma in general, can cause PTSD. And if you are feeling triggered by being asked to do something - by going to the grocery store - by being asked to hang out with someone whatever, you know is coming into your life, and you are feeling triggered that, it's okay to have that feeling. I think that it's super important just in general right now to kind of make note about how you were feeling in certain situations.
I know that when i have been going through really traumatic life events that i've been talking to my therapist about, instead of her saying you know, if you're feeling sad or frustrated or angry or scared or whatever, stop everything you're doing and process it right there. That is not what her suggestion has been. What her suggestion has been is that if i am feeling anxious or nervous or depressed or whatever in a specific situation to kind of notate it. It's kind of like you're taking mental sticky notes and just putting it on that emotion and going "huh this action made me feel this way", this interaction this person. this song, this media coverage, this whatever made me feel this way, just put a little mental sticky note on it. And then when you feel like looking at that sticky note and looking at it in a little bit more in depth, then absolutely do that work.
But i think that it is really important to not put too much pressure on ourselves right now to process our trauma and experience our trauma, and try and go out into the world all at the same time. There is already a lot of things that we are trying to go through so whatever you can actually manage is perfectly okay. However you are feeling is perfectly okay. And i think it's just like, those little mental sticky notes allow you to see patterns, allow you to just pay attention to specific things in your life and how it is making you feel.
I also want to remind everyone that this pandemic has taken a huge toll on everyone. There was a study that was done by the CDC specifically about Americans in June that found that nearly 41% of adults in the us reported they were struggling with mental health or substance abuse, and 31% were reporting anxiety depression, and 26% were reporting trauma or a stress related disorder due to the pandemic. And actually i kind of think that those numbers are low. It may just be the people that i surround myself with, but i feel like a huge majority of people who are feeling that. And i also want to point out that maybe you haven't felt it yet, maybe this pandemic has been the perfect situation for you in some way and you're only going to feel anxiety once the world starts to open up, and once you, you know, are starting to go back into the world.
So just, i think it's just so important to look at all of the different elements of mental health and the fact that you know again, we're so unique. What I might be feeling might be different than you're feeling etc. It's also really important to remember that for some people this pandemic has been really beneficial because our country and our world has a lot of "ablest" tendencies. There are a lot of conversations that I've been having with people in the entertainment industry about how people who are differently abled who potentially could not get to meetings before, who could not be in writers rooms, who could not be considered for different jobs, are now being considered, because their jobs are over zoom. And i think that it is so important that we recognize that and we recognize the fact that we have an opportunity now to make the world more inclusive to everyone including people who have found that zoom is a much better way for them to attend their job or to meet people or whatever. Like I think that sometimes we don't consider that and it's really important to bring that idea to the table.
Of course even on a more general level the fact that so many of us have been able to maybe work a little bit less because we have been able to be at home, and we don't have those commutes like, there's some very positive parts of this past year. And I know that people are stressed that all of those positive changes are going to go away. I would encourage you to speak to your peers, to speak to your colleagues, to advocate for yourselves.
I would also just remind do to be gentle with yourself. If going back into the world is something that is stressful for you, try to do it in small little pieces. Just go to the grocery store for 10 minutes and then that's it, if you have not been going to the grocery store, or go to an outdoor mall where you can be surrounded by people but everyone is still masked and you're all outside. I think that me, for myself personally, doing these small little steps has allowed me to feel more safe in the outside world. I'm still not going to indoor dining or anything like that, that is just a personal choice, but whatever your comfort level is I encourage you to just try and push those boundaries with yourself a little bit more. It's a muscle. Just like every other muscle in our body, your muscles need to be crushed and strengthened and given a little bit of resistance so that they can build again. And being out in a social situation is a muscle, so it makes sense that it's going to take you a little while to build back up to that again.
I also want to remind you that it is really important to set boundaries right now, boundaries as far as what you are comfortable with. I know that i'm already feeling overwhelmed with the idea of having to maintain the same level of social situations and social connections that i had pre -andemic ,and i am going to allow myself the idea that i don't have to go back to that same level . And so i think that it's so important to decide who you want to see and how you want to see them, and it's okay if there's groups of people or people or situations that you just don't want to engage with anymore.
I think that one of the positive aspects of COVID is that it has allowed us to get a sense of clarity about ourselves about what we want about how we relate to the world and I encourage you not to lose that clarity as the world opens up again. I think it's going to be a difficult thing to do. I know personally that I am going to write down a list of rules for myself, not necessarily as commandments, but more as things for me to just check in with. For example, it could be that I don't want to have more than three social situations a week or whatever it is. I haven't exactly figured out what they're going to be but I think that it's going to be really important for me to set those boundaries for myself in a physical way, and write them down somewhere where I can see them. And then that way, when I start to re-enter the world, I can go back to that list and say "okay is this something is actually going to serve me" or not. I also would remind you that it's okay to say no. It's also perfectly okay to change your mind if you say yes to a social situation in the future and then the day before or the morning of or something, you then feel like that social situation is no longer going to make you feel good or is going to cause more anxiety or whatever, it is okay for you to take care of yourself.
Again I think it's really important to push ourselves a little bit and to you know, work those social muscles and say to ourselves "okay maybe this isn't 100% how I want to spend my time today but i'm gonna do it anyways because it's important" etc... Like sure that's good too but if a situation is causing you anxiety and stress, that is not a situation that you need to be in. And so I encourage you to say "no" to things.
So it's a very quick wrap up to this kind of rambley episode. I just want to once again remind you that this is collective trauma that we have been going through. That this phase of the pandemic, the world opening up in some way, is just a new part of this trauma. It is still important to recognize that it is going to impact us and that that's just the reality. The important thing is to be kind to yourself and to listen to yourself, and to really notate how situations are making you feel.
Again i hope that we bring some of the positive things with the pandemic into our post-pandemic world. I think there's a ton of things that have been really beneficial and I hope that we can continue to advocate for communities that have thrived more on zoom than in the pre-pandemic world. I would also encourage you to write down two lists. So I said before, we've got our list of things, maybe that are going to be the like guidelines for yourself as far as how you want to re-enter the world. But like, I still only want to go to the grocery store once a week, I only want to do three social situations a week, whatever it is going to be for you. But then I also encourage you to write down a list of things that you are excited to do again, for me, I haven't been to a restaurant in a year. And I am so excited to go to a restaurant. I probably will eat outside, but I am still super excited to have that experience again. And I think that it's really important to both bring some joy and some happiness into our lives right now. But again, to also remember that last year, has caused some trauma that will probably be part of our lives for a very long time. And it's important to recognize that there are some positives to this and there are some negatives to this. And that is okay. That is just part of being human. That is just part of the human experience.
I am so excited about coming to you all on May 3rd, with a new format. Definitely make sure that you are following us on social media because I will be releasing little teasers about what that format is going to be and what I am going to be exploring. All of the links to the social media are in the bio. Again, if you have suggestions, comments, you want to share a story, please reach out to me. I would love to continue to develop this podcast for you. Because this really is for you as a part of the community.
Please remember this week and in the weeks to come before I talk to you again, that it's so important to give yourself grace and self-love especially right now as we are re-opening the world. Please be kind to yourself. Remember that you and everyone around you is more than you see. I will not see you next week. I will see you may 3rd. I'm really excited about it. Thank you so much for listening