NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — 2020 will be remembered as a year marred by the coronavirus pandemic – the death toll, the shutdowns and job losses – but, perhaps most of all, for anxiety and fear.
CBS New York spoke with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and a leading psychiatrist, both of whom say no one is immune to mental health struggles.
Williams, never one to hide his feelings and open up about his willingness to say, “I’m not OK,” is at ease with not being OK right now. He’s not alone.
“I’ve had to, often times, check myself and say these feelings are real and you’re allowed to go through them and just experience them,” he told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas in a candid conversation.
CLINE-THOMAS: Tell me about how you were feeling when you said “I am not OK” at a press conference after the killing of George Floyd? I want to take you back to a particular week that really struck me, it was after the Central Park incident, George Floyd had been killed. There was a press conference and your voice was shaking and you said “I am not OK” do you remember that?
WILLIAMS: I do remember that.
CLINE-THOMAS: Take me back to what you were feeling in that moment?
WILLIAMS: Generally when I am speaking, my secret is I’m usually trying to say things that I need to hear, because if I need to hear it then other people do as well. And being not OK was – I needed to hear that myself, I needed to hear other people saying that, and I just wanted to make that space for us to say that we are not OK.
During a time that is testing everyone’s resolve, Williams said he wants New Yorkers to remember they are strong.
“It is strength to reach out and ask for help. It is strength to say to someone I am having trouble right now. Just ask someone for help,” he said.
Professionals, like psychiatrist Mark Epstein, are key resources for keeping anxiety, depression and stress under control.
“You don’t have to be suffering terribly to seek therapy. Therapy is like having a friend who you can confide in and, maybe once in a while, get some decent advice from,” said Dr. Epstein.
“Feeling overwhelmed, while it’s a true feeling, it is only a feeling, and when we learn to allow that feeling and leave it alone rather than to be gripped by it, then the feeling tends to take care of itself. And a moment might come where you are not feeling overwhelmed and that’s such a relief,” said Dr. Epstein.
As Williams said, it’s OK to say, “I’m not OK.”
In unprecedented times, where there is so much upheaval, mental health should not be ignored.
Dr. Epstein says the steps to a better mental journey include making a schedule and carving out time for yourself.
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