Our executive director and founder, Dr. Alexis Decosimo, and Playing to Live curriculum builder, Kristin Ramsey, launched this podcast to support front line workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Their goal is to give front line workers a platform to tell their story, while offering coping strategies for self care and mental health based on their expressive art therapy, yoga therapy, and global mental health expertise.
The first guest to the podcast is Morgan Sykes. Originally from Asheville, Morgan moved to NYC to pursue a career in journalism. After being laid off, Morgan struggled with clinical anxiety, depression, and insomnia. She temporarily gave up journalism, and began working at a bike shop and as a bike messenger. She quickly fell in love with it, and explained the exhilaration that came with being a woman and “taking up space, and not letting yourself get pushed around by cars”. However, after the deadliest year in ten years for cycling accidents in NYC, and experiencing several cycling deaths in her community, Morgan decided to take some time off from biking in the city.
At the beginning of 2020, Morgan planned to make her journalism comeback, but then the pandemic hit. In a desire to serve her community, Morgan posted a tweet that went viral, offering to help with grocery shopping and delivery on her bike. She quickly became overwhelmed with delivery requests and a “bizarre” amount of media attention.
Then, she found Corona Couriers*, a team of volunteers offering free low-contact deliveries using a “neighbors helping neighbors” model. She joined them and hit the ground running. Specializing in long-haul trips, she can carry up to 40lbs at a time.
Morgan said, "I'm not going to apologize or pretend that I'm not strong as hell. I've earned this."
But as the death toll keeps rising, and ambulance sirens ring loud over the city, Morgan explains, “It’s hard to take care of myself. I disregard my own needs. I hit a wall a few days ago and I had to slow down.” Morgan started working with Corona Couriers partially as a coping mechanism. So, when forced to self-quarantine at her home, it feels a lot like her old depression coming back up. She can’t use her usual coping strategies, like going to the museum or meeting a friend for coffee. Like many others, she’s trying to figure out what self care looks like in this new way of life.
Alexis and Kristin explain how so many people are experiencing this feeling of having made progress, and the pandemic has taken them right back to the place they just found their way out of. With inspiration from Morgan’s story, Kristen and Alexis introduce the following self-care activities that Morgan and all of our listeners can use:
Kristen offers activities focused on re-framing anxiety and building on gratitude and positivity:
*For listeners tuning in from NYC: Corona Couriers has funds available to buy groceries for those who cannot afford it right now. Please call or text (929)320-0660, or email email@example.com if you or someone you know needs help.
Written by Lindsay Bingaman - PTL's Regional Program Manager based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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