By Caroline Eizik, LCPC, ATR-BC
I was thinking about the corona virus the other night while watching Anderson Cooper on TV and trying really hard not to freak out. Earlier in the day I took part in a Facebook discussion about whether or not the corona virus pandemic is a “war” as Donald Trump has said. This led me to thinking about our frontline, the healthcare workers.
My daughter and her husband are both nurses who work in a large California hospital. He is an R.N. and works in the Emergency Department. She is a B.S.N. and works on a cardiac unit, often with the elderly, with whom she has a special connection, thanks to her grandma. They have both been exposed to the virus. They have two boys, ages 19 and 15, my grandsons.
They were both in the Army and know how to fight a war. But a war on a virus? That seems pretty complicated and “novel” as the virus is called. I’ve been thinking a lot about science lately too. We are lucky to have so many smart people who were willing to study hard to become scientists. If this IS a war, our scientists are the generals.
I think this crisis leads us all to pause for a moment and appreciate how brave and necessary these people are to our society. Healthcare workers take care of us when we are at our worst and most vulnerable. They are gentle giants. And parents with kids at home must realize how really important teachers are. Even those parents who already appreciated their children’s teachers, are probably feeling a little extra gratitude today. There are many people who can’t work from home. I read that store clerks are at even more risk for contracting the virus than nurses. And then there are the people frantically stocking the grocery store shelves. Our postmen and women, truck drivers, government workers, the people at McDonald’s who have no healthcare or sick pay, are all working to keep things going. This is a time when we can give up the idea of rugged individualism and understand the reality of our interconnectedness. Sometimes it feels like this is a wake-up call saying, “Pay attention”.
As I contemplated the situation, I thought to myself, “What can we do”? “What can art therapists do”? People are surely suffering emotionally as well as physically. As mental health professionals we are in a unique position to help people cope with the extreme stress that we are all experiencing. We understand the effects that excessive, chronic stress has on the body, mind and spirit.
Cellist, Yo-Yo Ma was on the 6:00 news the other day. He’s begun a Twitter hashtag called #songsofcomfort. He plays a Dvorak piece that is, indeed, comforting. He’s invited others to participate. The music is beautiful and inspiring. There are a variety of genres that will grow as people continue to share. My yoga studio, Ganesha Yoga on Irving Park Road (a little plug for the best and most inclusive yoga studio ever) is now doing online classes.
How can the art therapy community use our skills to help out during this time of so much need? Individually or as a group, or both? What can we do?