LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thanksgiving will undoubtedly look different this year with COVID-19.
Guilt about declining to be there is an important emotion that can play into the equation, says therapist Brittany Johnson, who is treating 30-40% more patients than in past years.
“If I go visit, and I’m carrying the virus, I could end the life of my grandparent or aunt or uncle. Think about how will this play out if you make a decision that might negatively impact your family,” Johnson said.
In the event you do end up spending time alone or with just one other person, Johnson suggests making the best of it.
“Create a plan for that day. So if it is going to be, ‘these are the movies I’m going to watch,’ watch those movies. If it is going to be, ‘these are the friends I’m going to text,’ text those friends," she suggested. "Create a plan and really try and stick with it, because having a to-do-list keeps you busy. It keeps your mind going so you don’t fall into the trap of ‘now I’m just sitting here thinking about what I’m missing.'"
If someone you know seems to be struggling, Johnson suggests taking time to notice and be there even if it is unconventionally.
“Do not be afraid to reach out. Do not worry about if they are going to give you an angry response, because I would rather you be angry at me and tell me you are angry than to find out you are no longer here. Your life is that valuable. All of us need each other, so reach out, be intentional," she said.
Johnson even has her list of people she's planning on reaching out to during the holidays.
"I’ve got a list of people I know who typically isolate that I’m planning to reach out to throughout this week and throughout next week all the way through the new year," she said.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available around the clock at 1-800-373-8255.