Jeff Ruane

2021: The year that was inexplicably worse than the last

2020 was awful in a loud, bombastic way that (almost) everyone could agree on. There was a certain comfort in the idea that as terrible as it was, we were all in it together. 2021 has been awful in a much more insidious, isolated way, where everyone seems to feel like they’re suffering alone.

I’ve had a shit year. Like a really, truly, awful year. The isolation of last year set the stage for all sorts of warning signs of mental illness going unnoticed. These things tend to have a domino effect as well, as one person’s mental health effects everyone around them. I haven’t just seen this in folks I know personally, but just think about the rise of QAnon, or videos of folks toppling displays at Target because they don’t want to wear a mask. It’s easy to laugh at this stuff, but it seems very likely to me that most of these folks are in crisis. They need empathy and help, not ridicule.

I’m not sure what to do about any of this besides encourage folks to watch for warning signs. Depending on the illness, the earlier it’s recognized, the less destructive it’ll end up being. Changes in personality shouldn’t be overlooked, nor should changes in mood, appetite, or sleep. Please, visit nami.org and find help in your area if you’re experiencing any of these warning signs, or if someone you love is. It might be a little bit scary to reach out to someone, but I promise it’s not nearly as scary as leaving it untreated.