by Mary Holtrop

During these past few months I was not feeling the stress of COVID-19. I was going about my business, going to work most days, getting caught up on projects that I have been meaning to complete for several years, organizing my work space and taking care of long overdue work issues. 

At the library where I work we were having some major building projects completed and I had some of my own projects to work on as well.  Most days it would just be myself and whatever workers that were here.  I didn’t mind coming to work and I felt good about my accomplishments.  I live alone and I am new to my area so I don’t know many people. At home I was feeling an emptiness, but nothing that significant. For exercise, I walked daily, and with extra time on my hands I added yoga and stretching to my routines. I started to pray and meditate more. I felt all this helped.

By mid-May my library started talking about opening our library book drops for returns and starting curbside services. But with the return of the rest of the library employees came many discussions about Covid-19; what we should do, what should we not do, what is right, what is wrong. Everything we addressed started to become a lengthy discussion with so many different opinions.  It was then I started to feel anxious and depressed. I can feel myself being irritated, angry, and frustrated. I know I am testy and I do not know why.  So I decided to change my personal goals for May and I told myself no tv during the week, add another walk, read a book, do a crossword because anything is better than just sitting and festering all these feelings.  

Then I got sick. Not the Covid-19 virus but something else. I still had to get tested for Covid-19 and I was scared and stressed until the results came back negative. My brother invited me down for the weekend. I talked myself into going and told myself a relaxing weekend is what I needed. Where parts of the weekend were relaxing, I felt every single conversation came back to Covid-19. By the time I left I told myself I am just so done with this. 

And here is the thing. I should feel blessed. My family is healthy, I still have my job and getting paid and I have no reason to feel the way I do. Many people have it much worse than me and I feel so deeply sad and sorry for them.  I started to ask myself why I was feeling the way I do. I think it’s because of all the conflict. All the difference of opinion and endless discussions about this and we still know very little. I knew I wasn’t alone in my feelings but rather than we all just address the elephant in the room we continue to pretend we are ok. 

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And then George Floyd happened. I am just so despondent about this situation. But more than that I am just so sad and angry over all the reactions that are just hurting all of us even more. We as a country are trying to recover. We are bringing businesses back and making attempts to recover from this pandemic and now all this immense anger. I understand and accept the anger and the feeling is justified but what I don’t understand is why people are making all this worse rather than coming together and try to make things better? I don’t have the answers. I have to remember to be kind and soft to others because we really need each other. After I got home my sister in law wrote me and said “I feel awful, I just wanted to give you a hug.” And I realized, I really need one right now.

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