Sharing our feelings while living with the Coronavirus

By Dave Zryd

Sometimes, just sharing our feelings can make us feel nervous, vulnerable, angry, or confused.  Communicating what we’re feeling can be difficult. There may be a lot going on for you during this unusual time with the Coronavirus “bug” still floating around, unseen, yet still very dangerous. A lot of us slip into denial about the risk, socializing, shaking hands, and hugging, even though we may know someone, who knows someone, that recently died from catching this deadly, “flu-like” bug.

The threat is still there, and most of us are going to come through OK, because we are washing our hands and keeping our social distance with others. Even if we don’t get physically sick, something else may be going on that needs attention. How do we talk about what we are going through, personally?

As always, communication is the key – that releases the heavy feelings we carry. If we “clean as we go” our house will stay fresh. The same is true for our built-up feelings – sharing can help reduce our mental “heaviness” and take out the “garbage” that is piling up in the corner of our minds. 

A daily check-in can help. Sharing our feelings is something that comes easy for some of us, and others will do anything to avoid real sharing.  It is scary and unpredictable once you start opening up. The alternative is to clam-up and become isolated from others, even develop a fake “I’m fine” personal front.  People know when you are not OK – body language is pretty easy to read, and if you withhold your feelings all the time, you will get pressured to share. “Are you Ok?”

To keep a strong connection with our loved ones, we need to nurture intimacy on a deep level.  To really connect, we have to open up and share our feelings, keeping the circle strong in the family.

During the last few weeks and months under the Covid-19 virus threat, a lot of disturbing feelings are going to be coming up. One facilitator I know, Jane Middleton Moz, likes to say that, with feelings, you need to “name it to tame it”. That is, when we share our feelings, we get closer and care more about each other. “Connection is the cure” for keeping everyone strong and grounded as we face the next challenging time with more freedom but uncertain risks as we go out into the community.

So, what’s going on for you? I can guess some people are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, and even confused or angry. Life is so different from usual: What can we do safely, when, with who? Can I hug my grandmother now? Am I going back to school, work, fishing, or do I just stay home and be completely safe? Doctors and nurses are coming up with guidelines for us, and they seem to change daily. So, again, take a deep breath and remember “all will be well” in time.

Your job is to stay safe, be patient, and stay connected. We truly are all in the same canoe on this trip. Your canoe will stay steady and move ahead, with a check-in now and then, sharing feelings and connecting with each other. It’s OK to say you are worried, scared, or confused.  Naming the feelings will take the charge out of the situation. Emotionally opening up to friends lets off some pressure. It is great to feel the support that is there for you, when you do find the words to express what is going on inside. As you get more comfortable sharing, others will do the same, and you might be surprised at what you hear. Everyone of us is going through something that needs support now and then.

Dave Zryd has been an employee of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for 27 years, as a clinical counsellor (BCACC reg # 971), serving the communities in the southern region and occasionally in other regions for specialized counselling, men’s issues, and EMDR trauma therapy.

Prior to the NTC, Dave was at the old Kakawis Treatment Centre, before it moved to Port Alberni, where it is now known as Kackamin. While at Kakawis Dave learned the importance of Indigenous culture for successful treatment of personal and family problems, many of which were the result of residential school experiences.

Today Dave lives in Port Alberni and can be reached by phone at cell 250-720-5815 or the Quu Asa office, direct number 778-421-8091.  His email address is david.zryd@nuuchahnulth.org. He is available for Zoom video sessions and looks forward to meeting new clients and, of course, checking in with community members he has known for years.

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