October 15, 2020 program
The Song Endures: Hope in the Time of COVID
Marblehead author shares strategies for surviving depression, loneliness By Leigh Blander Posted Oct 19, 2020 at 4:49 PM Updated Oct 19, 2020 at 4:49 PM Workshop offered hope in the time of COVID Please support local journalism by subscribing at explore.mypapertoday.com/wickedlocalpremium, and subscribe to our newsletter here. Marblehead author and suicide survivor Amy Saltz is sharing her story to help people suffering from loneliness, anxiety, and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. She led a special Zoom event with the Marblehead Counseling Center on Oct. 16 and nearly 100 people tuned in. “There are healing strategies and lessons that can apply to today’s challenges and maybe provide some hope,” she told the online crowd. “We can recover from just about anything.” Saltz attempted suicide as a teenager, suffering severe burns and losing part of her tongue. She was hospitalized for years with a feeding tube. Doctors told her she might never talk or eat again. But she proved them wrong. “I give myself credit for trying to stay alive,” she said. “I was a superhero, teaching myself to talk and eat. I needed self-encouragement, gratitude, and trust in myself.” Saltz has suffered more tragedies throughout her life, losing two partners. She’s written two books about her journey. She offered several lessons to folks struggling right now, including something she called “creative compensation.” “It’s finding alternative methods to offset what can’t be done in a usual way,” she said. “I taught myself to accept my limitations and find other ways to do similar things.” If you can’t give your grandchildren a hug, for example, maybe spend extra time with them online, coloring together or watching a movie, she explained. “The sense of connection is the antidote to hopelessness,” she added. She also suggested things like exercising, doing puzzles, binge watching shows, and listening to music. “Have gratitude for what is here in the moment,” she said. Music has always been an important part of Saltz’s life. She is a percussionist who leads a music group at Temple Emanu-El. “I can feel the fullness of life in the song... the tragedy, the loss, the healing, the love. I am trying as hard as I can to stay alive and continue singing,” she said. “The song endures with hope.” People watching sent in questions, including one about how to handle feelings of anger at those who aren’t wearing masks during the pandemic, putting others at risk. “Most anger ends up coming from fear,” said Dr. Harvey Zarren, who also spoke at the program. “I found most people who are behaving nonsensically don’t respond to reason. Sometimes I just step away, just move away and take myself out of the situation.” Another person asked how to handle the “utter loneliness” many are experiencing now. Rabbi David Meyer, who introduced Saltz at the event, suggested people take advantage of all the virtual options available now. “We can connect online in many ways: a Zoom program, Facebook, or YouTube. Every organization that I know is offering online classes, seminars, gatherings,” he said. “Yes, it’s in little boxes, but there’s still a connection. I hope you feel it tonight. We have 93 people tonight who are sharing a conversation. It’s remote and we can’t hug, but we can exchange ideas, learning, and cultural events. It’s the silver lining of this time.” Saltz and Zarren both encouraged people to reach out -- to seek help and to help others. “If we do reach out we can be of use to others, we can try with intention to give compassion to ourselves and those around us,” Saltz said. “We are designed to be altruistic, to help each other,” added Zarren. “Sometimes when we reach out we give someone else the benefit of being helpful and that actually lifts them up.” Benjamin Day with the Marblehead Counseling Center encouraged people in need to contact the center at www.marbleheadcounseling.org or 781- 631-8273. “Just the fact that so many of you have come on to listen is indicative of the fact there is a yearning for practical ways to be hopeful in the time of COVID,” Day said. “We want to provide that glimmer of hopefulness.”

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