‘We’re All in This Together’: A Therapist Talks Fear, Depression and Anxiety During Coronavirus
God created fear. But Satan uses it. “Every single thing that humans struggle with is something that God created and Satan hijacked,” explains licensed family therapist Bob Hamp.
Fear is not a bad thing, he says. All fear means is that we give something power over us. The question is what we fear. And who. “When we attribute power rightly to God, then that’s the beginning of the foundation of all wisdom. It’s how you use it that’s the problem. Fear used rightly is a gift that makes us stronger and wiser.”
Power, Love and a Sound Mind
To get free from fear, we must change our focus from getting free to becoming who we’re meant to be. “None of us are created to be crippled by fear. Paul told Timothy [we have] power, love and a sound mind. When we understand and focus on finding power, love and sanity, we haven’t just overcome fear. We’ve actually changed our focus, which puts fear in its place.”
Bob says he’s busier than he was before the lockdown. But most of his clients aren’t asking for help with the circumstances of the coronavirus. They’re asking for help with what has surfaced as a result of the virus.
“There’s some really, really beautiful things happening [that] people in the forced slow down are discovering.” People are finding that their relationships with their family are deepening in a very meaningful way. “I’ve had several people say, ‘Hey, I’m going to make some little changes no matter what comes next because what’s happening now I value so much. I never want to lose it.'”
Depression and Anxiety
Bob has some advice for those who are struggling with depression and anxiety. “Don’t feel shame about working with a professional,” he says. But find a clinically trained professional. “I hear a lot of bad advice. When you talk to someone who’s anxious and you tell them not to worry, that actually makes them worse. And when you talk to someone who’s depressed and you tell them not to be sad, that makes things worse.”
Don’t be alone, he warns. “Both anxiety and depression tend to make people choose things that isolate them. Whether or not you’re going for professional help, at least be with people that are meaningful in your life. Don’t push people away unless they’re harmful people.”
Everyone wants to know what “normal life” will look like after the pandemic is over. Bob hopes that people will recognize that as life slows down it gets better. “I hope that people will latch onto that.” He also hopes that people will recognize, in the culture of excess, that while removing some of the excess may be painful at first, it’s better for our souls. “We would all be better off,” he says.
We’re All in This Together
While circumstances may be tough, every person is going through this difficulty at the same time. “We’re all in this together. … Everybody is going through the same change simultaneously.” It’s easier to handle when everyone is dealing with the same crisis, Bob says. “If I’m having an economic crisis and the rest of the world isn’t, I could end up in some pretty terrible places.”
But the fact that everyone is going through this makes the difficulty a bit easier to bear. No one has an advantage. “Even if we’re moving downward, we’re all moving downward and so we’re all together in this.”
Believers in Christ can experience a powerful season ahead. “I hope that we respond with compassion and move into people’s pain and not away from it. Jesus was a man who was acquainted with sorrows and acquainted with grief. If we, as believers, can get uncomfortable, or at least be willing to be uncomfortable, then the next season can be a powerful one.”
He adds: “People are hurting right now. People are going to hurt worse. I hope we see the best of humanity in response to that.”