The Impact of COVID Is Just Beginning
For weeks, you felt lonely and maybe even resentful about being trapped at home. There was a part of you that knew it was a health precaution and for the safety of others, but another part of you felt like it was unfair. You couldn’t wait for things to get “back to normal.”
You wanted to see people again, to be able to work, to be free. Then one day you heard an announcement. There was talk about a plan for re-opening the province, but this plan came with no details or dates. You thought you would be happy, but immediately you felt annoyed. You wanted information. Everyone you talked to seemed to feel the same way.
Over the next few days, you noticed a nagging feeling. The more you thought about this plan, the more apprehensive you became. You brushed it off as anxiety about the lack of information. You wanted to know WHEN it was happening. You convinced yourself you needed a plan, that was all.
Well, stage one began, announcements were made, stores began to open. You didn’t have ALL of the information you wanted, but changes were happening. You began to notice something. You were terrified. The very thing you had been asking for, even begging for, was now causing a sense of dread. Restrictions are starting to ease and your mind won't stop racing.
It’s a paradox. Now that you have the freedom to go out, you are too scared to go anywhere. When you were at home you felt safe. The idea of going back to work, the possibility of exposing yourself and your family to COVID-19 is terrifying to you.
For those who have been laid off, the pressure to get going has been building. But at what cost? Those who have been working from home, even at reduced hours are noticing their fatigue. "Is this burnout?" It is a question I get asked weekly. Life has changed. The idea of integration into a modified workplace is overwhelming. There are still too many unanswered questions. You want to be productive. You want things to go back to the way they were, but how is that even possible? There is so much to do. You don't feel prepared for this.
Since the pandemic began, occupational health and safety complaints have risen in Ontario. Substance abuse and rates of domestic abuse have also seen a rise. Parents have reported significant changes in their children’s behaviour, ranging from angry outbursts to persistent sadness. These concerns will not automatically disappear when physical distancing and isolation orders are lifted.
The depth of the pandemic will not end once the province re-opens. The destruction will last well beyond that. There is no winning scenario. If you have a job to go to and refuse to work, you may risk losing that job. On the other hand, if you go to work, you fear that it is unsafe. You may be risking your health. It is a mistake to think once the economy gets going everything will be fine. Many who can are opting to work from home for the next few months to minimize the potential risk of COVID, but even that comes at a cost to one’s mental health. Not everyone has that option either, many who are self-employed have not been covered by the CERB and other government plans, leaving few options and increased anxiety, both around finances and health.
During the height of the pandemic, even if you didn’t realize it, being bored at home, you were affected. You were in survival mode. Now as the mass panic has begun to die down, the reality is setting in, if you can call this reality. This “new normal,” as some have called it. Your brain and body are still trying to catch up to what has been going on, trying to process it. The body holds on to trauma, it is remembered as an emotional state. When you feel these fears, you do not feel safe anywhere. You begin to feel hopeless. Your body instinctively reacts to stimuli, an increase in post-traumatic stress symptoms or the development of PTSD is only one of the potential psychological outcomes of the pandemic.
It can be easy to justify certain ‘COVID’ behaviours; to excuse your poor sleep habits because you have no reason to wake up early or blame your short temper on being confined in a small space with your family. The more you let yourself slide, the more difficult it becomes to return to routine and transition back.
Be proactive with your health. There are some signs to look out for: an increase in anxiety or fear, lack of motivation, being teary or overly reactive, using food to cope, chronic pain, sleeping poorly, abusing alcohol or drugs. These may be signs of a mental health issue that can improve with therapy.
COVID 19 is real and has been devastating. There is no shame in saying you need help, that you're not okay. You are not alone. If you are looking for someone to talk to, book your free 15-minute consultation and let's see if we are a good fit. You can book online at https://kennedymclean.janeapp.com or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care of your health. Your life is worth it.