The Three Stages of Covid Anxiety on the Road to Normalcy

A year ago today I wrote a blog just 24 hours after the WHO declared the Coronavirus a world wide Pandemic.

I remember those first few days that followed as though it was just yesterday. There may have still been so many unknowns at the time but one thing was for sure, the virus that had seemed so far from our reach was now here and action was abruptly taken. 

March Break was just getting underway here in Ontario and the sudden closure of the borders meant for starters that Rachel, who was scheduled to fly to Punta Cana in a couple of days for her once in a lifetime High School Graduation trip was no longer going to happen. 

Professional sports and Broadway productions were being shut down; students, teachers and parents were preparing for a “two week” extension of March Break and then one by one businesses, malls and restaurants were told that they too must close immediately. 

The sudden changes, the mixed messages and the fear of the unknown quickly began to take its toll on everyone, even those amongst us who had never experienced bouts of anxiety before were starting to feel anxious and scared. 

In my blog I shared a list of some simple yet effective ideas for how we could try and cope with this new type of anxiety (you know, the kind of anxiety that follows the declaration of a world wide Pandemic!). 

But now, one year in, those simple, effective ideas no longer feel plausible. Covid-19 and the fallout from it has created so many new barriers for many, devastation beyond repair for others and an increased amount of anxiety and other mental health concerns in almost everyone you speak to.

My anxiety had already been beyond crippling for me pre-Pandemic for the better part of six years by the onset of the Pandemic but Covid-19 has really magnified it in so many ways and I know that sadly I am not alone. 

But I also can’t believe that someone like myself who lives with chronic mental health issues on a daily basis, where carrying out the simplest of tasks and activities or attending any type of social gathering that could likely cause me to go into complete and utter panic and despair at any given moment (even those which involve close friends and family) finds myself actually craving many of these missed opportunities that so many of us once took for granted. 

For an entire year now I’ve been following the public health’s advice and guidelines by washing my hands regularly, wearing my mask, staying home as much as possible, social distancing and avoiding any direct contact with family and friends outside of those who live in my home, so like truly, who can really blame me? 

I can at the very least see a light now at the end of this very turbulent and dark tunnel with the vaccine rollout underway (even if it’s been a complete and epic fail here in Canada) but it still doesn’t change the fact that this past year has on a whole been the most difficult and trying year for many of us and after enduring months and months of Covid-fatigue has only added more fuel to the fire for someone like me who already had a very anxious mind beforehand. 

At first, once the initial shock wore off (although I still find myself often shaking my head in disbelief) we may have found some joy in staying home, spending quality time with our kids or taking a few weeks off from our hectic lives; I mean sometimes big changes in our lifestyles or behaviours can feel easy in the beginning, right? But this was never something any one of us ever wanted to get used to.

But we have all had to adjust and pivot in so many ways since then and so now, here we are, one year later still watching cautiously from the sidelines with some light at the end of the tunnel as life slowly (very slowly in Canada) begins to push toward some type of “normal” again except that now many of us are starting to face yet another very real anxiety; one that comes with a fear of what normalcy will actually look like, a fear of the future, post vaccination and a fear that we will never be able to get back to the way life was before the Pandemic because abnormal sure feels like the new normal to me.

Do you fear that life will never feel “normal” again?

#ayearinreview #covidfatigue #willlifeeverfeelnormalagain #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #abnormalisthenewnormal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Were We Just Too Naive?

I wanted to reshare a blog with you that I wrote exactly one year ago today when, for most of us, our biggest fear at the time surrounding the Coronavirus was whether or not we had enough toilet paper on hand “just in case” we were forced into a 2 week quarantine.

None of us could ever have imagined how much our lives were about to be turned upside down or forever changed and we definitely could never have predicted we would still be dealing with the devastation from the Coronavirus in its entirety a whole year later.

Were we just too naive?

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/should-i-add-it-to-my-list

The Five Stages Of “Covid” Grief


Throughout the Pandemic I have followed all the necessary precautions set out by the Government, by Science and by our Health Officials and although it may come as a big surprise to many of you but for the most part the Pandemic itself has not intensified my symptoms of Depression and Anxiety; infact in some ways it’s done just the opposite (I will save that for a later blog). 

My steady decline in my Mental Health over the last while has truly had very little to do with the Pandemic itself and much more to do with many other personal factors that were already there long before Covid-19 was ever a thing.

And although I have not allowed all the fear mongering or blatant disrespect, intolerance and judgment towards one another that I see every time I open up my Social Media feeds control my emotions I have grown more and more anxious lately wondering if life will ever feel “normal” again.

As I look back on the last 6 plus months I feel as though the Pandemic has taken us through many different stages, and when I examine those stages closely I can see that they are the same 5 stages a person will often go through when grieving a loss and for months now we have all been grieving the loss of life in some form or another.

The 5 stages of grief which can easily be transferred to life during a Pandemic are as follows: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness & Depression and Acceptance.

Way way back at the end of 2019 the world watched and listened to what was unfolding in China and for several months prior to it reaching the rest of the Globe, if we can all be honest here for just one second, how many of us actually watched in “denial” while clinging to a false, “preferable reality” that this virus wasn’t really going to affect our lives. 

And even as it crept closer and closer to us, we were still very much in “denial” as to the kind of impact it was going to have on our lives, but boy oh boy, it didn’t take long before our “denial” turned to “anger”.

We quickly (and rightfully so) became very frustrated and began to put blame on anyone and everyone we could. We angrily wondered how the fuck this could have happened to us and who would of let this happen to us all the while as we sat at home in self-isolation.

Then, as more and more information from the Government, Science and Health Officials came to light we entered into the “bargaining” stage of grief and started our negotiations with the experts. “So you’re telling me that if I stay home or stay 6 feet apart from anyone outside of my bubble or I wear a mask when social distancing is problematic or I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands constantly then after 14 days in quarantine our life can go back to normal, right?” 

Well we all know now that it’s alot more complex than that and our “bargaining” and negotiation skills have fallen short, which after months of trying to make the best of this very shitty situation our denial, our anger and our bargaining skills have turned into a deep “sadness” or “depression” for many people around the Globe.

Many of us have lost so much during this Pandemic and many of us have reached a point where their sadness or depression makes them feel as though this is a losing battle, that all our efforts are hopeless. It’s also made us question an inevitable future and our own mortality too.

But there is still one final stage of grief and it’s probably the most important one of all. If we are to find the strength to move forward and learn how to navigate life in our new “normal” then we must first learn “acceptance” of it. Collectively we need to figure out ways to proceed both cautiously and safely because “acceptance” will give us the power to control whatever lies ahead.

We all cope with grief in our own way and in our own time. We may not all go through each of the 5 stages, and maybe none of them at all but no matter your process we all need to remember that we are all in this together. 

#fivestagesofgrief #denial #anger #bargaining #sadness #acceptance #showkindness #wereallinthistogether #strongertogether #covid19 #pandemic #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #checkonyourlovedones #wearamask #washyourhands #sixfeet

Life Is F’ing Hard

For the better part of six years now I have found myself wondering most days “Why is life so hard?” and over time (I’m guessing just in the last four months alone) it has probably crossed your mind many times as well. We are all human beings after all and we will all fall on hard times in our lifetime after all and we all go through our own emotional rollercoasters through different stages of our life after all; it’s what makes us human after all! 

At any given moment when life becomes too hard we may need a little extra support and guidance to get us through which is when it’s most important to remember that it’s okay to rely on others for help and it’s more than okay to ask. Some days/nights when I am experiencing a particularly acute and dire episode of negative emotions (crazy amount lately) I will often allow my mind to wander to my super social supports (support can come from many different kinds of people and places). Just thinking about them and knowing that they are there for me in case I need to reach out can provide me with a level of comfort to help get me through in the moment because ignoring our negative emotions or trying to avoid facing our hard times head on will not make them go away. In fact from what I have learned over time will only create further despair and mental anguish. One of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn to accept over the last six years is that it’s all part of our journey and talking through it can really help you better understand your feelings. 

I have also learned over the last couple of years that making self-care a top priority is one of necessity when life is especially hard. For me that includes writing and journaling, reading a good (self-help) book, doing a puzzle, taking a warm bubble bath, texting with a friend or going for a hike or a long walk. Since the onset of Covid-19 Rich and I have tried to prioritize taking long walks every day and exploring our neighbourhood. Until recently when the temperatures weren’t so crazy hot and humid we would go for an hour or two walk during the day but have recently moved it to the evenings. I’ve even found getting caught in the rain sometimes an added bonus! 

What do you do to take care of you in hard times? What do you find works best?


#lifeishard #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #findyoursupportsystem #family #friendship #therapy #kindness #itsthejourneynotthedestination #masksoff #checkonyourlovedones 

One Final Thank You

Just one final thank you to @cbcthenational for sharing my story so perfectly.  Thank you to @kidshelpphone for making a difference in so many young lives and thank you to the “Class of 2020” Graduates for teaching the rest of the world the true meaning of resilience while learning to face adversity head on in a time of so much uncertainty. You may forever be remembered as the “Graduating Class of Covid-19” but the lessons you will take with you as you transition into the next phase of your journey will carry you far beyond what any classroom ever could.

#classof2020 #graduationday #grads #strongertogether #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok  #makingadifference #ouryouthmatter #pandemicdiaries

Singing The Birthday Blues

 

So tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be turning 49 so no big milestone or anything of the sort but still it’s a birthday nonetheless and birthdays are meant to be celebrated. 

Age has never been a “thing” for me and to be honest it still isn’t, not even as reality sets in that in 1 year from now I will be leaving my 40’s behind forever and entering into a whole new decade.

Yet for more than half of my birthdays in my 40’s, up to and including tomorrow, the anticipation leading up to my birthday and the actual day of have been super hard for me. 
For many people living with Depression, birthdays are hard enough to deal with but the thought of spending your birthday in quarantine adds a whole other layer of sadness and anxiety to the birthday blues. And what’s overwhelming me even more about my birthday this year are the extraordinary expectations that have come along with having a Covid-19 birthday celebration. 

Millions and millions of people have celebrated their birthdays in quarantine already, both young and old alike and I’ve heard the same sentiments echoed from so many who have said that it was one of their best if not the BEST birthdays they’ve ever had.

Whether it’s the parades of cars driving by their home, the zoom parties, the serenades of happy birthday being heard from miles away, the bouquets of balloons and gigantic signs set out on their front lawns letting everyone in the neighborhood know that it’s your birthday, the homemade cards and giant cookiegrams being made with extra love, the presents left for them by the curb (who doesn’t love presents) and the extra meaningful and socially distant visits on their driveways have all helped turn an otherwise somber birthday into the most beautiful of days. 

It sounds pretty picture perfect doesn’t it? I mean like just knowing how far your loved ones are willing to go in order to make sure that your already very memorable birthday does not go unnoticed is super awesome, right? But what if the pressure to make an otherwise somber birthday the BEST one ever is just simply too much for you to handle right now?

Thankful and Blessed

Today I was so honored to receive an amazing and much appreciated nomination from my very dear friend Sheri Epstein and my very new friend Belora Cotnareanu whom I am so blessed to have both of these strong and supportive ladies in my life. I was nominated in a group that was formed just a couple of months ago called “Creative Cooking During Corona” by  Cheryl Obrant who’s love of food and community has since brought together almost 10,000 like-minded individuals who share recipes and build each other up! See below:

CELEBRATING WOMEN  #top10

“Is there someone in your life, or even yourself, who has really done something unique and special during these past few months??
Stepped up in an incredible way, given back to others, come up with a unique or innovative business idea……Overcome challenges or adversities and deserves to be Spotlighted and recognized???
TODAY WE FEATURE THE 10th OF OUR #TOP10 a double nomination by Sheri Epstein and Belora Cotnareanu – thank you ladies and we share with you the amazing Kim Newman Fluxgold

Here is the story shared by Sheri and supported by Belora

Kim Fluxgold has suffered from severely debilitating depression for the past 6-7 years. She has tried many things to help her “get better” nothing has made a difference. Although her depression has often made her feel like giving up she doesn’t!

Each day she tries to cope with the challenges of daily life of being a wife and a mother, which in itself is difficult enough. But… on top of that she has made a commitment to helping others who are suffering like she is. Kim writes a blog entitled, You Are Enough, and she even authored and published a book for children, “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go” to help parents explain depression to young children.

Then the shut down happened and Kim became very concerned for all the grade 12 students who were losing out on the things that mark the end of high school. As a mother of a grade 12 student (as I am also) she knew that this shut down wasn’t just about losing out on part-time jobs and march break plans, but also losing out on prom, graduation, summer plans, moving into residence, frosh week, etc.

As well, she was and is very worried that all this loss could cause many of our children profound sadness, feelings of grief, and depression. Kim wanted to do something to show our graduates –all our graduates – that we are  proud of them and that we honour them.
So Kim designed these wonderful lawn signs and all proceeds from the signs are being donated to Kids Help Phone, which is seeing an increase in calls since the shut down.

Kim did all the advertising for the signs, had them made, and then delivered each one personally (with her family members helping with driving and schlepping) to each grad.

This has put many miles on her car as she has travelled all around the GTA putting smiles on grads’ faces. To date she has raised about $10,000 for Kids Help Phone. I would say that this is pretty amazing for anyone to do but for someone who struggles each day with depression this is AWESOME!

Kim is most deserving any and all accolades that she gets (even if she often doesn’t feel that she is worthy of them).

WHAT AN AMAZING STORY!!!!!!!!!  SO PROUD OF YOU KIM!!!!!!!!!!!!

#womensupportingwomen #empowerment #bekind #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #blessed






Signed, Sealed & Delivered


While on route today delivering more lawn signs I made an extra special stop to the home of one of the Managers of Kids Help Phone to drop off an envelope with a cheque in it for just under $8000. 
Like so many others right now, the staff at Kids Help Phone are adjusting to a new way of life by having to work from home (and for the foreseeable future) in order to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of Covid-19 but I didn’t want to have to wait several more months for Kids Help Phone to reap the benefits of the 100’s of generous donations I’ve received and so the kind young gentleman (who I’ve been in constant contact with since the start of my “Class of 2020” Graduate Initiative) offered to have me drop it off to him to ensure it got into the right hands now.

We spoke for a little bit outside his home (and 2 meters apart!) and he shared with me some of his goals he is working towards right now for our youth during Covid-19 and beyond and how much donations like this can help turn these goals into a reality. 

I told him that I will have another cheque for him in a couple of weeks once I wrap up my campaign which is officially winding down this weekend as my mental health is taking a toll right now from it, but as of this evening I am very close to doubling my original goal of $5000 and ya that’s pretty cool with me.

*Feel free to reach out to me before Sunday night to honour a “Class of 2020” Graduate! And if you or anyone you know is feeling sad or angry or frustrated or scared please reach out to Kids Help Phone 24/7. They are now servicing all children, youth, frontline  workers and even adults.  

#kidsmentalhealthmatters #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #kindnessmatters #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #suicide #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #togetherapart #staysafe #stayhome @kidshelpphone @bellletstalk 

How Can I Say No?


I received another shipment of “Class of 2020” lawn signs (over 200 to be somewhat exact). As last week wrapped up and I could barely see straight anymore and was feeling extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed I went to bed that night with a promise to myself that I had taken my last order. I tried reminding myself that delivering close to 600 lawn signs over the course of one month was an incredible feat (with several drives that were close to an hour North, South, East and West of the City) and I even tried to convince myself that I should be very proud of what I have accomplished by raising over $8000 for Kids Help Phone to date; and then before I knew it, morning had come.

You see, I have a very hard time feeling like anything I ever do is good enough, worthy enough or just plain old enough. And I also have a very hard time saying no, I want to say no, and I often need to say no but the guilt of saying no can far outweigh my ability to set healthy boundaries even if it means that I’m compromising my own mental and physical health for it.

I went to bed that night having set several healthy boundaries in my head. My plan was clear as day, I was not going to take anymore orders; no matter what!!! I needed to focus my energy instead on wrapping up my project and on the upcoming delivery, which included mapping out a very clear and concise plan as to how Rich and I were going to conquer the current deliveries with as little conflict as possible. I had also been preparing those who inquired about Grad signs last week and even part of the week prior (before I knew that I was going to appear on the evening news) that if they wanted to place an order they needed to confirm with me by Sunday evening because I would no longer be accepting orders after that (month end).

I know we can’t always please everyone and that creating healthy boundaries can help ease some feelings of guilt but when I woke up Monday morning and my inbox already had another dozen or so messages from parents and loved ones of a “Class of 2020” Graduate wanting to lift their spirits I just couldn’t say no. 

Each sign I have sold has come with its own unique story and I have had the privilege of hearing many of these stories about so many AWESOME “Class of 2020” Graduates and many stories have also included how much Kids Help Phone has played an important role in their lives. 

I wish that when I do say no that I can do so without guilt of course but also without feeling like I have to always apologize for saying no, or explain myself for saying no or feel like I’m being judged for saying no or that I’m letting others down for saying no and besides all that; didn’t Nancy Reagan teach us that it’s okay to “Just Say No!”?

#sayno #youareenough #justsayno #healthyboundaries #finalorder #nostringsattached #ichooseme #guiltfree #noshame #noapologies #graduationday #grads #classof2020 #ouryouthmatter #youarenotalone  #endthestigmatogether #strongertogether #kindness @kidshelpphone @bellletstalk 

A Mitzvah

I have a really hard time accepting help from others, that is everyone except for maybe Rich. What does that exactly mean though; well it means that if I allow someone to help me or do something nice for me then that would mean that I’m weak and incapable of doing it myself, right? And wouldn’t it also mean that I’m a failure too?

I know that most people only offer their help without any ulterior motives in mind and that for every 1 person whose willingness to help others may have ill intentions in mind I also know that there are ten more people who are wanting to show their support or lend a helping hand because they genuinely want to help and it actually gives them great joy when doing so.

In the Jewish faith this would be considered a “Mitzvah” or in the English translation it is considered to be a “good deed” to help someone with a conscious act or emphasis on kindness and empathy.

Throughout my journey I have had no shortage of kindness and empathy or heartfelt sentiments being offered up to me and my family at any given time but it’s always hard for me to let others help me and most of the time I honestly can’t even explain the reason why. 

I know my illness has a lot to do with it as I am constantly telling myself that I’m weak, I’m incapable, I’m a failure, I’m unworthy, I’m undeserving and I’m useless. I feel as though I have no control over my life whatsoever and then to allow others to help me feels like I am giving up complete control all together and making me feel even more vulnerable. Oh and my favourite of course is the guilty feeling I get when someone does something kind for me. 

Over the last few weeks and even more so this week I have recieved an abundance of kindness from loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers, offering to help me in whatever capacity they can with my Initiative. Maybe now would be the perfect time for me to embrace the moment and give others the opportunity to feel the same way I feel every time I brighten up a young person’s day!!

#mitzvah #kindness #kindnessmatters #empathy #joy #helpinghands #youareenough #noshame #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone 

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