A silver lining amongst COVID-19: Breaking through anxious silence

By Roni Roseberg

Forty-three years ago, I had my first baby. He was a wanted, beautiful child, and I was blessed with a fast, uncomplicated birth.

My son was like a little pixy – cute, bright and very precocious. People would stop us in the street to talk to him.

He astounded everyone with his ability to learn. That ability, however, also made him very aware of strife in the household as my marriage slowly came apart at the seams.

Life as a single mother: Challenges and trials

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Being high on the gifted spectrum, this one was not an ordinary boy.

People think having a child with a high IQ is purely a blessing, but it is also very challenging to raise such a kid.

We had our share of difficulties, and I was required to cope as a single mom with an on-call fire department job and a younger child with whom I also had my share of trials. Life was not easy or predictable for a number of years.

Slowly, things resolved to some extent. My younger boy and I moved on with our respective lives, but my older one remained stuck.

Then, two years ago, he hit a low point. He was in a prison of pent-up frustration and anger. Life just wasn’t satisfactory for him.

He suspended communication with everyone in the family except me and limited our conversation to brief e-mails. He explained that he was suffering from anxiety and depression.

The positive thing was that he sought professional help. I never met his therapist, but I will be forever grateful to her for some excellent work.

During that time, my son, who lives out of state, was barely there.

COVID-19: Breaking the silence

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For two years, he refused to talk to me on the phone and didn’t always answer my e-mails. I spent sleepless nights and tense days worrying about him.

Was he stable? What could I do to help?

I endured some unpleasant comments from people who didn’t understand the situation. Writing was my refuge during that period.

There were many unknowns.

Could I help him in any productive way? Would things ever improve? Was he taking care of himself?

All I had to go on was the idea that we all need time to evolve in our own way, and that he needed someone in his corner. At times I was desperate, thinking of reasons that he was not writing to me.

My second husband, who has three adult kids and very few problems in this area, tried to calm my angst. However, this was foreign territory for him.

Nonetheless, though I doubted my husband’s reassurances that things would be OK, he was right.

My son called this week after two years of silence! I was overjoyed.

If there is any silver lining to the chaos of the coronavirus epidemic, it is that my son became worried about me and decided to call.

The first thing he did was apologise for the long silence. The second thing was to explain that he needed his time and space to sort out many things.

He is a complex person, and I always knew his path would not be ordinary.

Since that call, we’ve had more delightful chats and he is back in his old routine of updating my computer long distance.

I’ve missed his in-depth analysis of things, and I told him so.

He sounds great, having sorted out some intricate issues. I am once again overjoyed (it is his birthday as of this writing) and there is a rebirth in our relationship.

I am also extremely grateful. My prayers have been answered.

Further support:

Today, 1 in 4 people across the UK experience mental health issues each and every year. However, many people are suffering in silence.

Research shows that women are roughly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a common mental health problem. However, suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK.

If we look at how men are affected, experts have expressed how men often struggle to seek support and speak to loved ones about their mental health. Sadly, but not surprisingly, one of the potential reasons is “social expectations and traditional gender roles“.

So, whoever you are, wherever you are: please don’t suffer in silence and don’t let age-old toxic stereotypes try to define who you are nor stop you from getting help.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, please do reach out for support.

Below is a list of services who can offer crucial mental health support, please do reach out if you’re in need:

Anxiety UK
Bipolar UK
CALM
Men’s Health Forum
Mental Health Foundation
Mind
No Panic
NHS (UK) services index
Rethink
The Samaritans

A list of additional organisations can be also be found here.

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