“I hate COVID . . .”
This is something, as a therapist, that I’ve heard frequently over the past two years. It’s something I’m continuing to hear and will likely hear into the future. The world, collectively, is exhausted by COVID. Individuals are tired of COVID. Though the reasons often vary, the sentiment is the same.I see the person who lost a loved one to COVID—the ache, the pain, the anger, the grief. I see the person who had to tell their loved one goodbye via a screen rather than holding their hand and being present with them. There are no adequate words to express what has been taken. The loss has been extreme, and the toll it continues to take feels immeasurably hard.
I see the person in the healthcare field who has waged war against an unrelenting virus. I hear your exhaustion physically, mentally, and emotionally. You have been on the frontlines—risking your health to save strangers.
You have had to hold the hands of loved ones for people trying to say goodbye remotely. You have cried. You feel anger towards this disease that has taken so much. You’re so strong, but inside you secretly wonder how much longer you can keep doing this.
I see the people afraid of becoming sick with COVID. The thought of a positive result makes you scared and anxious. I see the person describing what it was like to have COVID—how scary it was for them when they had to go to the hospital and be put on oxygen.
I hear how COVID impacts entire families and how sick people are having to rally to take care of other sick people and how tiring that can be. I see the person searching for the right vitamins to take, the right treatments to pursue, hoping they will work.
I see the business owner. I hear how the employee shortage leaves you wondering every day if you’ll have enough staff to keep the doors open. I hear how the constant changes in COVID policies make you feel like you’re running as fast as you can, but you can’t keep up. Supply chain shortages keep you riddled with anxiety, because you don’t know if you will have the supplies to produce the goods you sell.
I see your care and concern for your employees—the stress it places on you to ensure you can continue to provide them with a job. Inflation is a constant worry. Products that cost significantly less a year ago cost so much now. You are constantly analyzing profit margins and deep down, you’re unsure how much longer you can keep this up. You watch the business next to you have to close their doors, and you wonder if you’re next.
I see those depending on the medical system for things other than COVID. I see the expectant mother who wonders whether she will be able to have somebody beside her when she gives birth to her baby. She fears getting COVID because of the possible ramifications for her baby.
She is overwhelmed by constant medical decisions that would never have been a thought in her mind two years ago, but are at the forefront today. I see the person who needs an outpatient procedure but can’t get scheduled because the hospitals are overwhelmed. When an arm gets broken, I see the fear of somebody who knows they need to go to the hospital but is afraid they’ll get COVID there.
I see the children and teens who are afraid. They’re afraid of getting COVID. They’re afraid of isolation. They’re afraid to go back to school, but also afraid to continue staying at home. The toll of isolation on young people is profound. Developmentally, kids and teens need time with peers.
I hear the fear in the voices of young people who are terrified of another lockdown. I see the tears of a teen who is struggling to reintegrate back into in-person learning—who doubt their self-confidence due to prolonged isolation. I hear the frustrated kid who has been in detention numerous times for not wearing their mask correctly.
I see the teacher who is constantly adapting to new COVID policies. I hear how you provide comfort to students who are struggling with new rules. I see how you have had to switch back and forth between online learning and in-person instruction.
You are constantly cleaning your classroom, dispensing hand sanitizer, and trying to say well. You fear getting COVID because you know the amount of substitute plans you would have to generate for missing a week or two of school is overwhelming. You are a pillar of strength for your students, but you are tired.
I see the person who lost their job. I see the income insecurity you now feel with acute awareness. Thoughts of “How will I provide for my family?” “How will I pay rent/mortgage?” and “Will I be able to get another job?” I hear the anger you feel for having to make really difficult choices.
I hear the frustration of many regarding the politicization of COVID. Everybody is so polarized, and it feels exhausting. You wonder where you can go for unbiased information. You feel on guard during conversations with others about it, because you’re scared that you might offend someone. The vitriol between sides feels extreme. Friendships have been lost or tarnished over differing perspectives—yet another of the many losses COVID has generated.
I could go on and on detailing the struggles of COVID from a variety of perspectives. People are hurting—and they’ve been hurting for a long time now. With new variants continuing to emerge, we are starting to wonder if it will ever end. Some days, the burden feels too difficult to bear.
What can we do as we continue to navigate this pandemic? How do we find the stamina to keep moving forward? There are a couple of things that can provide relief. First, we can lean on our faith to give us strength. We can continue to lean on the promises of God. In Deuteronomy 31:8, it says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Jesus reassures us at the very end of the book of Matthew that He is “with you always, to the end of the age.” God is with us through the darkest of times.
Second, if you feel overwhelmed or if you resonated with what is written above, please reach out to someone who can help. Find a counselor who can sit with you and hold space for you as you share the burdens with which you’re struggling.
Talking with a professional can help you process these difficulties and give you coping skills that can help you navigate these difficult times a bit more easily. Sometimes just having somebody to talk to and someone who will actively listen can truly help.
Don’t minimize your struggle! As a counselor, I hear often from people that they feel that their struggle isn’t worth discussing. If it’s impacting you, it’s worth discussing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor who can help. You don’t have to do this alone. This pandemic has done such a good job of isolating us and making us feel like we have to navigate this season alone. You don’t. What step do you need to take today?
“Covid-19”, Courtesy of Martin Sanchez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Downtown”, Courtesy of Yoav Aziz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ashamed”, Courtesy of Dev Asangbam, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “How Are You Really?”, Courtesy of Finn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License