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 

MONDAY MOTIVATION: MARCHING INTO MARCH

When I was visiting with a friend over the weekend (in a garage from 6 feet apart and freezing our butts off, but well worth the price of our sanity) I was being all like cool and optimistic and like a glass half full kinda gal when I told her that now that March 1st is upon us, it meant just one thing; we’ve almost made it through the winter. 

Yup, that’s right, it’s true, I was totally speaking with my glass half full (and from someone who despises winter beyond words) knowing that when March rolls around that we’ve made it through the worst of it and that spring is just around the corner, ready and willing to shine its bright sunlight on the melting snow.

But it never takes me long for my half full glass to evaporate into thin air or in this case freeze over into a block of ice when the real reality sets in that in less than 2 weeks from March 1st it will be exactly one year since the entire world was completely turned upside down.

The month of March has forever changed. It will forever be remembered now not for its promise of warmer days ahead where we spring forward into a new season or see Leprechans dancing in the street or children excitedly awaiting the Easter bunny’s arrival but instead March now feels more like an alien from another planet (which kinda makes perfect sense since March got its name from a Roman God named Mars!).

Ok so what if we turned this back around and what if my glass was still half full? What would March look like then? What if we approached the month ahead by dreaming of those Leprechauns dancing in the street and looked at March through the eyes of those children excitedly awaiting the arrival of the Easter bunny? 

What if we allowed ourselves to spring forward and “fall” back into our lives by reliving all the silver linings that have enabled us to get through what has undoubtedly been the worst year ever. (Feel free to revisit my blog “My Silver Linings Playbook of 2020” back in December) https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/12/26/my-silver-linings-playbook-of-2020

What if we welcomed March in with open arms like we’ve always done in the past by leaving the back gate unlatched for him? Let’s welcome March back into our lives as though nothing ever happened so he can get in and get his job done quickly and proficiently for those of us who have been stuck inside our homes (and garages) waiting to go for long walks, basking in the warm sunshine and taking some time to stop and smell some flowers along the way. How does that sound to you? 

What do you “normally” look most forward to about March? 

#mondaymotivation #marchmadness #springisintheair #marchingintospring #silverlinings #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #stopandsmelltheroses #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #glasshalffull 

A Thanksgiving Parody

@theholdernessfamily have been a great source of laughter and comfort for me over the last many months.  

Their videos are always so creative, entertaining, nostalgic and often carry with it a strong and meaningful message.

The Holderness family is so relatable to so many of us who are also just desperately trying to survive and navigate their way through day to day life during a Global Pandemic in the best and safest way possible. 

I know we are all missing our loved ones and have had to sacrifice so much this year (and I don’t believe that closing small businesses and retail stores as they have done so in parts of Ontario this week is necessarily the answer but then again do we really know what the right answer is anymore?).

This latest parody video holds a super powerful message and not just for our American friends and family who are busy preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, but for everyone around the Globe who so urgently wants to be with their friends and other family members.

The good news however is that there is an end in sight, so for now lets all do our part to keep each other safe by continuing to socially distance and wear a mask.  

Follow The Holderness Family on Facebook and Instagram; you won’t be disappointed and Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate. 

ENJOY

#staysafe #aerosmith #parody #laughter #laughuntilyoucry #covidfatigue #2020sucks #theholdernessfamily #wereallinthistogether #wearamask #happythanksgiving #youareenough

Happy Covid-Halloween

Halloween, like every other holiday or celebration since March is going to look and feel, well, in Halloween terms, something like that of a “Ghost Town” around here tonight.

The Government and Health Officials in Ontario have “strongly recommended” that anyone living in a “hotspot” area (which I do) refrain from taking your little “Witches and Goblins” door-to-door Trick or Treating this year or give out candy as well (and just to add further salt to the wound, it’s finally on a Saturday night!!!).

Well even though my 3 little “Pumpkins” may be young adults now and well past the “battiness” of Trick or Treating, I can’t help but feel a “haunting” sense of sadness today mixed with a “monstrous” dose of nostalgia. 

Have a sweet and sugar-coated Halloween today everyone, however it is you may be celebrating! 👻🍫

**Feel free to share some of your favourite Halloween memories and pics!

#covidhalloween #makethebestofit #youcanstilleatcandy #halloween2020 #fullmoon  #totrickortreat #staysafe  #mentalhealthishealth #kidsjustwannahavefun #ourkidsmentalhealthmatters #simplertimes #memories #youareenough

Reality TV Show: The White House Unvensored

Let me first begin by reiterating to you just how much I love Reality TV (Read my Blog “I’m A Reality TV Junkie”; Aug 5, 2020). It’s one of the greatest escapes ever except lately I think I may have crossed the line between Reality TV and real life.  

Each week my PVR is set without fail to record many (many) hours of the chaos and drama of someone else’s life as a way of trying to escape from my own daily chaos and drama. It’s become a welcomed distraction and has also become a perfect way to escape from my own burdensome thoughts and refocus my attention somewhere else. 

However, for the last week or so I have found myself engrossed in a new Reality show of sorts, only this time it appears that while watching this show I am unable to distract myself from my own life and it has quickly turned into a very toxic and burdensome obsession.

In all honesty I have a very addictive personality and I am very prone to “Behaviour Based Addictions” which according to Wikipedia is when you “combine a behaviour with a mental state and the repeated routine is therefore associated with the mental state”.

This very toxic and burdensome obsession has now left me with even more sleepless nights than usual, anxious beyond words, crippled with fear, angry as f*ck and not to mention very behind on my nighttime viewing of the many (many) Reality TV shows I tape each week because I just can’t stop watching CNN or checking my Twitter feeds in order to find out what the President of the United States has said or done now. 

My intentions for writing this is not to start any kind of a political debate or a war of words between friends but I just wanted to share my thoughts with you because it’s probably safe to say that I’m not alone in how I am feeling right now; shit I’m not even an American citizen, yet I’m feeling quite traumatized and very, very sad. 

This is not a Reality Show that any one of us can truly watch these days in order to escape from their own real life and must be especially hard to watch for those who are living right inside the walls of this reality. I will say however that it certainly is oozing with more drama and chaos than even “The Khardashians” or any of “The Real Housewives” franchises but I am really looking forward for the season finale and “Tell All” (reality tv jargon!) to air already! My PVR will be set for sure!

#realitytv #behaviourbasedaddiction #thewhitehouse #donaldtrump #cnn #anxiety #mentalhealth #presidentoftheunitedstates #sleeplessnights #youareenough #youarenotalone 

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

Man Plans, And God Laughs

The other day I posted a blog titled “Socially Distanced Holiday Traditions” where I talked about how difficult the holidays have become for me over the last many years and how this year many of those social pressures, obligations and expectations that so often make it difficult for me to enjoy the holidays in the first place had been decided for me due to Covid-19. 

Sadly, it almost felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could actually take in the beauty of some of our holiday traditions this year without all the added anxiety from too many social pressures, obligations and expectations. 

I felt way more in control and much less guilty than in holidays past and I was also looking forward to spending some (socially distanced) quality time with other family too, even if it meant having to freeze our asses off in the crisp Fall-like weather in order to do so.

But none of that ended up happening because just hours after posting my blog the other morning, Jacob came home from work feeling sick for the second time in just over a week (after being perfectly fine only hours earlier). This time though he had many more flu-like symptoms than the last time. He complained of body aches, chills, a dry cough and he felt warm to the touch so off he went again for yet another Covid test and then we waited, and waited some more in anticipation of his results while he lay locked away (again), alone in his room in the basement for what felt like an eternity (I’m pretty sure though it felt even longer for Jacob).

It was hard to think positively (or to think of much else) knowing what the outcome could be and knowing just how shitty he felt (I lay awake that entire first night convincing myself that I too had Covid! #anxietysucks). It was the longest 48 hours ever but thankfully once again his results came back negative. 

The whole situation made me think of the Yiddish adage “Man Plans, and God Laughs” and just how much life is truly so unpredictable and how quickly unexpected changes can occur in your life; big or small (which is basically the journey I’ve been on for 6 years now!).

I had the best intentions and the best laid plans for the first time in many years when it came to a holiday celebration and as I mentioned above I was actually looking forward to a much less overwhelming Rosh Hashanah this year. In the end it may of still turned out to be another very overwhelming holiday while we waited for Jacob’s results but at least we got to enjoy some quiet family time together (with Jacob on Facetime) and lots of delicious festive food (I think Jacob is secretly starting to enjoy being waited on hand and foot 🙂 even if the first chance he got to be released from what’s beginning to feel like a dungeon he bolted for the nearest exit up the stairs and to the kitchen!).

#shanatova #roshhashanah #happynewyear #youareenough #manplansandgodlaughs #goawaycovid #familymatters #itsgonnabealongwinter #wearyourmask #washyourhands #togetherapart #secondwave #socialdistancing

Our New Norm

Jacob called in sick to work the other day, something he has rarely done in the past but he just wasn’t feeling well. He told us he was feeling really run down, he had a case of laryngitis and he also displayed some other mild cold-like symptoms as well. If this had been 6 months ago we would have probably just given him some Tylenol or Cold and Flu medicine and sent him and his “man cold” back to bed but instead we sent him to go get a Covid test to put all of our minds at ease.

We can no longer just simply dismiss exhaustion or other cold and flu-like symptoms as nothing more than the “common cold”. For almost 24 hours we kept him isolated to his room in the basement while awaiting his results. We left food and water for him outside his bedroom door like you would that of a prisoner (and Hannah made him a big bowl of ice cream for dessert too) and we lay in wait with a feeling of panic until he got his results.

While we waited we also needed to discuss in great length what the possibility of a positive test would mean for the five of us and for anyone else Jacob had been in contact with over the last week or so.

It felt scary and very real. His test results THANKFULLY came back negative, but as we head into the cooler weather now and with the cold and flu season upon us, this is going to become the reality for more and more of us in the coming months and from the several stories I have seen on Social Media just one day into the start of the new school year for many of our children who were being sent home due to having runny noses, our “new norm” is certain to only add to an already very long and uncertain Fall and Winter season ahead.

#staysafeeveryone  #bettersafethansorry #covid19test #wearamask #washyourhands #socialdistancing #togetherapart #youareenough

Paint The Town

Today Rachel will embark on a new chapter in her life as she begins her first day of University; working towards her lifelong goal of becoming an Interior Designer (in LA!).

Today you leave behind a once in a lifetime cancelled Graduation trip, a brand new Prom dress with the tags still on, a High School Graduation Ceremony that is still TBA and a summer like no other. 

And although today as you begin this new chapter in your life very differently from how it’s meant to be, it will still be filled with new beginnings and endless possibilities.

Today is your day to start anew and wipe the slate clean. Today is your day to focus on the journey forward. Today is your day and I know that you are going to paint the town with every colour of the rainbow.

#todayisyourday #mondaymotivation #paintthetown #ryersonuniversity #interiordesign2024 #futureinteriordesigner #focusonthejourney #onlinelearning #zoom #followyourdreams #youvegotthis  #youareenough #youarenotalone

School: To Be Or Not To Be?

You’ve probably heard the saying before “You can’t please all the people all the time.” It’s nearly impossible for anyone to be able to please everyone at the same time because we are all unique individuals with our own unique set of expectations, experiences and perceptions and that’s perfectly okay. 

This fall will be the first time in almost 20 years that I won’t have a child in my home entering a new school year in the Pre to K, Primary or Secondary School system. Both of my daughters fate were determined for them several months ago as the Post Secondary Educational systems all made the decision early on to begin the upcoming school year mostly online, but right now many other anxious Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff and children are eagerly awaiting their own fate as to whether or not schools will reopen, will continue online or will do a combination of both.

As a parent I am quite torn with the decision that was predetermined for my girls months ago and especially for my youngest daughter who has already lost so much in her graduating year from High School to now not be able to experience the excitement and comradary that comes along with this next milestone in her life. 

Sadly there is no right or wrong, risk-free decision as to whether or not or even how our kids can safely return to the classroom this fall or if they should continue their studies online, nor am I here to debate it either way but I know that when the decision is finally announced there will be plenty of Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff and children cheering in support of the decision and many more yelling with rage.

Whatever decision is made (there will be no clear winner or loser), just remember that everyone has a right to their own opinion and even if that opinion differs from yours that no one has the right to judge you for that. We’re all in this together but as I said before we will never be able to please everyone all of the time.

Therefore it is more important than ever, no matter what the outcome is, that we focus our attention on keeping our children (and family’s) mental health and wellness in check above all else right now which may very likely look a whole lot different for each of us as our expectations, our experiences and our perceptions are all unique to us, and guess what; that’s perfectly okay.

#cantpleaseeveryone #ouryouthmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #bekind #kindnessmatters #schoolkids #distancelearning #backtoschool #wearamask

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