Cyber security expert advocates for mental health during COVID-19

BOTHELL -- A local cyber security expert and psychologist are advocating for mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have not always had the best track record of making really good, healthy, responsible adult choices,” said Bryan Seely. “The results of having gone to therapy and continuing to go are huge. Life is completely unrecognizable now.”

Seely is known globally for his expertise in cybersecurity and consultation. He’s a Marine Corps veteran and has two daughters at home.

“I’m grateful that I have a happy home to be at,” said Seely. “My children and I get along, and we watch Disney movies and bake, yeah, we have a good time.”

This time of transition has also been a smooth one for Seely who already worked from home. He can also continue to receive counseling through teletherapy.

Seely has been receiving therapy regularly for about two years.

He previously battled some dark days in his life, which include addiction to drugs and alcohol. He attempted suicide that closely coincided with his mom’s diagnosis with terminal brain cancer and a traumatic event in his foster daughter’s life when she was a victim of sex-trafficking.

“The marines taught me suck it up. Don’t talk about your problems. Don’t focus on the negative, just focus on the mission on hand. That didn’t work after a while,” said Seely. “You have to let it out or it’s going to eat you alive. So seek out help and someone to talk to. It does not mean that you are weak. Vulnerability is a sign of strength. Being open and being willing to be brave and stand up for something.”

His psychologist Dr. Kristen Kvamme said COVID-19 is creating for conditions that can trigger depression.

“Being isolated, not having a support system, losing your income can have a detrimental effect on your mental health, so now in our society a majority of people are experiencing those things,” said Dr. Kvamme.

Health experts are concerned for the mental health of first responders and front line workers who are exposed to what Dr. Kvamme describes as “vicarious trauma” and “compassion fatigue.”

“I can only imagine what it can be like to see so many families in crisis and to witness so many deaths. So there’s a thing called vicarious trauma that we experience through witnessing trauma ourselves,” said Dr. Kvamme. “There’s also something called compassion fatigue, which we can become burned out from all of the empathy and emotional experiences we have by watching others, and they’re doing this every single day.”

Dr. Kvamme said humans thrive in structure. She tells her clients to plan their days a day in advance. She advises setting realistic goals to accomplish, getting some movement and finding meaningful connection with people through platforms like Facetime and Zoom.

For Seely, he benefits his well-being and self-care to his therapy sessions.

“I would not trade it for anything,” he said. “It’s like going to the gym for people who go every day. It’s eating well. It’s getting a good night sleep. It’s important to me as any of those things.”

Dr. Kvamme suggests using the website Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area. If you prefer texting a therapist, you can try programs called Better Help and Talkspace.

If you’re anxious about the pandemic, you can also text “HOME” to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor on the Crisis Text Line.