Today, I’m writing to you as a friend. Not as a healthcare professional or an entrepreneur. Today, there are no numbers, no statistics, and no government projections.
We’re just friends and we are all in this together. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are fine, but some days are tough. Some mornings, we wake up and we feel like we’ve got this: the kids homeschooling schedules are organised, our family meals are planed, and we have found some time to get work done. Other mornings, we just want to curl up in bed in some decade old jogging pants and eat a gallon of full fat ice cream with extra caramel sauce…
While we do not offer mental health services, we know that in high stressful times, we need to safeguard our mental wellness…
The uncertainty of everything is scary and our anxiety is rising. How can something so small and invisible have such a grand paralysing impact on the entire globe? No matter the size of our ship and where it is docked in the world, we’re all somewhat on the same boat. This pandemic has affected us emotionally, mentally, socially, financially and even physically.
We all have a story to tell. We are all mourning “what could have been”:
You had been planning your family’s Disney trip for the past few months and had to cancel everything and announce the news to your children in tears.
You were planning Grandma’s 80th birthday party with over 100 guests? Your son’s dinosaur themed birthday festivities with his friends got cancelled. Your sister’s Dirty-30 celebration in Vegas isn’t happening.
Your dream wedding in the Caribbeans or in a rustic barn out of town that you have been planning sing you were 5 years old is now up in the air.
Your partner is staying in a different part of town, and you cannot see each other because there are police officers everywhere questioning travel essentials.
You finally got back home from backpacking in Costa Rica with 4 different airlines through the U.S.A., and that scared you a lot. You had to sleep on airport floors and use public restrooms. Now that you’re home, you’re alone and the next time your grocery store can deliver you food is in 5 days. You cannot leave the house as it’s against Federal Law.
You cannot take your child to their karate classes anymore. Those classes were crucial to helping him with his self-confidence, his motor skills and his concentration. You were doing everything to follow his therapist’s recommendations.
You’re days away from your due date with your first born, but you find out that your hospital is not allowing in birthing partners, and you are about to bring your child to this world by yourself with no hands to hold.
You had your court date scheduled so you can finally have your divorce finalised and have full custody of your children, away from your abusive and alcoholic partner.
You have been struggling with asthma since your pre-teen days and you’re pregnant with your 2nd child. A few months ago, you found out that your first born also has asthma and has been having recurrent pneumonias. Your husband still goes out to work, as he works in an essential service. There is the risk of bringing the virus home and you know it can be deadly to your family. You’re thinking of staying away from him with relatives for everyone’s safety but that means you won’t see him for a few weeks, or maybe months?
You’re a health care worker and you are exhausted from all the stressful conditions: PPE shortage, shift work, nightmares, bruises and sores on your face from constantly wearing face masks, constant e-mails from your IPAC departments and pandemic policy changes… You have been protecting yourself as much as you can, and yet, the Health Bureau calls you saying you have been potentially in contact with a positive COVID-19 case. You take the swab and lock yourself in your basement for a few days until your test results come back, eating in paper plates away from your family.
You cannot operate your business because it’s classified as “non-essential“. This is the business that you put your ENTIRE heart and soul into with all those sleepless nights of planning. You put in every penny you had, and you even re-mortgaged your house to make this dream happen. Your “non-essential” business is actually essential for you because it’s what puts food on the table for your family.
You can’t take the kids to park. That was your daily 40 minute break. As a single parent with no relatives around to give you a hand, that trip to the park made the day easier for you and your kids. It was free and therapeutic.
Your 75 year widowed mother had a stroke last year. She has been placed in a long-term care residence. What made all this easier for her was seeing you and her grand-children visit her every weekend, but that cannot happen anymore. You talk to her on the phone and she tells you she is feeling even more depressed.
You are the only one in your family who can shop for 3 different elderly relatives. But with the amount of limits they have placed on certain items at the grocery store, it makes it hard for you to properly shop for everyone. Instead, you purchase everything you can in one trip, and deliver it them. But you still have to get the groceries for your own household, meaning you have to go back out there, wait in line and potentially put yourself at risk again.
Your spouse, father of 3, had finally kicked cancer in the butt a few months ago. But, another C-word made its way into your household. And now, he is intubated in the ICU, fighting for his life on the ventilator, and his children aren’t allowed to see him. You are praying because you know that the only thing that doesn’t bounce back from all this is a lost life.
No matter your story, I hear you and I feel you.
You feel like crying? Then let the tears out. Acknowledge your fears and emotions. Do not keep your feelings inside. Do not pretend that everything is ok. Keeping your thoughts bottled in will cause you pain, as they will eventually overflow and become impossible to control. Do not ignore how you truly feel. You need to talk and express your struggles and negative thoughts.
Social distancing is physical. It’s not social. You’re not alone. We’re all in this together. This is a time to support each other and to reach out. It is not a time to judge who is going out to the hardware store to buy plants for their garden or who is going to pick up some coffee at the drive through wearing a homemade mask, because it might be the only activity that is preventing them from breaking down. It’s not the time to turn our backs to each other.
Today, I want you to pick up your phone to call a friend or a family member. I want you to focus on the moment. I want you to talk to someone so you can hear another perspective, another story, another train of thoughts or another way to survive this challenge. You don’t have to call and ask for advice. You can call to let the negativity out and invite some positive thoughts instead.
Staying positive doesn’t mean that you have to wear fancy rain boots and jump in the puddles of water. It just means that you know that after every storm, the sun will be shinning out. Staying positive means you need to regain control of what you CAN control. You cannot control the number of infections, the government laws, the loss of employment, etc. But you can control your thoughts and actions. This is a challenge but on days like this, practice gratitude. Think of the small things you are thankful for: name them, write them, and mention them to your partner and your children. This will encourage you to start saying more positive affirmation. Be kind and gentle to yourself, but be true to yourself. We’re all in this together.
Fear teaches you courage.
Anger teaches you forgiveness.
Hate teaches you compassion.
Struggles teach you strength.
You can teach yourself that it doesn’t rain forever…