It has been 4 months since I have written. In a time where it seems as though all we have is ‘time,’ you would think I would have had more to say. But if I’m being honest, waking up at 3am on many days with a racing mind and a pounding heart has not been easy. And I thought I would share this with you, in case you have similar experiences.
Let me start by stating that this not a look at the physical long-term effects of patients diagnosed with Covid19. I myself have not contracted Covid19, and therefore cannot speak about how it affects your body, health, and well-being.
I am sharing (from a personal, not professional point of view) how the ripple effect of Covid19 can play a role in altering our psychological make up, and how anxiety and depression has increased due to the instantaneous lifestyle change brought about by living in a global pandemic.
We see the infinite loss of jobs, and the pleas of the needy. In a third world country that is made up of predominantly the underprivileged, we knew the damage that even just one week being locked down would create. Fast-forward 21 weeks, and the nightmare that is our crumbling economy, along with a failed healthcare system has caused a rise in deaths. And mind you these aren’t just deaths due to breathlessness, intubation, and a weakened immune system – these are deaths caused by starvation, stress related health issues, and even suicide.
We hear about the increase in domestic abuse cases, and can only imagine the pain and suffering women and children are facing. And though this is an issue that has been a problem long before the lockdown, the spike, to a degree, has to do with the rising unemployment rate – as of today it is a staggering 13.5 million. Couple that with families forced to cohabitate 24-7 – spouses with zero space, and parents having to home school and entertain their children with no breaks in between, and no playing outside or with peers. All this with the added anxiety of actually contracting this harsh and highly contagious virus – humans were not meant to co-exist this way.
But what is the alternative? We are seeing our healthcare practitioners exhausted, and we are being told that there are no more hospital beds available. Nurses are quitting. Doctors are breaking down. Many are getting sick, and some are dying.
It is a situation in which no one wins. Both paths are detrimental. And with social media being the only outlet to most, the blame game plays on, with many forgetting that the true battle is against COVID19.
Living day-to-day, seeing the world collapse in front of you isn’t easy, even if it is from the comforts of your bed, in a home that is well stocked with food, and every other basic necessity. No matter how secure you are, it brings about a feeling of helplessness. This mentally and emotionally draining standard can definitely cause anxiety and depression.
The problem lies here – all this, along with your run-of-the-mill everyday stresses, compounded with other issues brought about by this change in your routine are things you do not complain or cry about. Because in the end, no matter how difficult it has become, we (at least people like me – calling out the cancers and the Catholics) tend to compare our situations to others and be grateful for our many blessings. Now listen, there is nothing wrong with being grateful, no matter how much we make fun of being ‘hashtag blessed.’ But that doesn’t stop it from being hard. It doesn’t stop the pain. Your problems may seem petty but they are still there.
So what do we do? We brush it aside. We bury our worries so deep, until we’ve convinced ourselves that they’ve gone away.
But they don’t. These issues and burdens keep gnawing at you, manifesting in ways that you may not even notice. Mine came in many forms – shortness with my husband, impatience with my daughters, and being generally more irritable than usual (Yup, an endless PMS), as well as the sleepless nights and a tremendous loss of appetite. I look at this picture of me and I am ashamed. Weight loss, sunken cheeks and sadness in my eyes.
But somehow, when my mother, or my closest friends ask me how I am doing, I simply say, “I’m good.” For a while, the sources of my pain became unrecognizable to me, as they have been sent to the furthest corners of my mind, but the hurt is still there, deepening.
I am sharing this because though I have things to sort out, I do not feel alone. The one upside to all this is that we are all going through this together, fighting the same enemy. One of my favorite quotes that I have seen:
Reading this has reminded me to be kinder and more forgiving, not just towards others, but towards myself. That said, it is also not the time to judge others, as everyone is going about this in the way that is right for them. Focus on yourself and if you need to talk, call someone who you know has your back. Having more open conversations with your loved ones can be very helpful. If you can, lend a listening ear. But do this with caution – sometimes we are not in the mental space to be burdened with the problems of others. If need be, call a professional – there are free online services which I will plug below.
Finding outlets has also helped me immensely. One of my favorite things to do during this pandemic is getting my daily dose of Vitamin D. I would sit under the sun for 30 minutes, allowing myself to sweat out any toxins while listening to my favorite music. Sometimes, it is in the form of meditation, sometimes during a work out, and other times by simply tanning. I have friends that found solace in the opposite – sitting in an airconditioned room, and enjoying the lower temperatures. Exercising has been a lifesaver as well. Getting my heart rate going has allowed me to sleep better on most nights. I have also been fortunate enough to spend time by the ocean, which brings me my greatest solace. When in the city, I try to find a silent area that has a lot of trees – you will be surprised at the powerful impact nature has on one’s wellbeing.
Sending you all love, light, peace, and prayers. And remember, to be able to truly take care of others, you must take care of yourself first.