Mary Holtrop Mental Health Occupational Health

Finding My Way

by Mary Holtrop

I started this article several different times and each time as I got towards the end I ditched it.  I suspect the reason is that everything for me right now, sounds so negative. I want to write something uplifting, positive, encouraging, and supportive. But every corner I turn, every direction I take, next thing I know I am down a negative road. If writing the article was going to make me feel doom and gloom then any reader will feel doom and gloom as well. 

These are the times we live in right now. Most of us are trying to do positive things in our lives to make us feel better. We are planting gardens, walking our dogs, baking bread, teaching our children crafts, reading books we have been meaning to read for years, cleaning closets, basements, attics and attacking our homes with ideas from Home Depot to Target; anything to give us some feeling of hope and help keep our faith that things will get better. And I truly believe that back last March most of believed that this would be a three month thing. By summer this COVID thing will be gone from our lives and we will be back to normal. I even think those who were saying “it will be months or years” partially wanted to believe that it was only going to be three months. 


So four months later here we are in summer and the summer and the heat didn’t kill it. And while our first two months of isolation, working from home, home deliveries and mostly carry out seemed to have slowed the spreading down, we wanted our normal back and with that came more COVID. But what did not come with this more COVID is those feelings of hope and faith that we had if we continued to isolate, decorate sidewalks, take long walks, bake bread, garden, walk our dogs etc. etc. What came instead is anger, finger pointing, rights vs doing the right thing, feelings of irritation, depression, “cover your nose and your mouth”, “you did what and went where?”, “I can see my family, friends, neighbors because we are all 6 feet apart”, “it’s the protestors fault”, “it’s the Democrats, no it’s the Republican’s” and so on. 

This is happening in my workplace. While my work was closed and I remained at work due to the nature of my job, everyone else worked from home. I say that lightly but ok, they did. But when they returned what they brought to my nice quiet space and building is COVID shaming. And with COVID shaming came arguments on what to do before re-opening. We have discussed and analyzed every single possible scenario we could possibly come up with. Common sense left us in March and has not returned. What has replaced common sense is shaming. I strongly believe in keeping our work place safe and healthy for our staff. But, realistically, based on what we know, no matter what we do, what parameters we put in place, that bugger COVID just might sneak in the back door. Yet if one patron might ask that one question or make that one request we have to be “prepared.” All this has turned me into that person who has lost all patience, kindness, hope, faith and solutions to rise above this. That I am better than this COVID. But it has bested me. 

I walk each day, sometimes twice. I listen to books on my phone and enjoy the early morning sunrise. I started picking up newspapers at the end of folk’s driveway and putting them on their doorstep. Just a little something that might make someone smile. I don’t even know these people and they don’t know me. I am the mystery person who gets their newspaper out of the rain. Last week I was half way through my walk and I yanked out my ear buds and started to pray. While I love to walk, I love to read. And I love my books. It’s hard for me to walk 4-5 miles without listening to anything. But last week, I started to pray. And the next day, I did the same. And now almost every walk I spend at least half my walk in prayer. And while I do yoga I am not much into meditation. Last week I sat in front of my TV and did meditation every day.  I cannot fight COVID and I am so tired of fighting with my co-workers, and I am tired of not sleeping and feeling anxious and stressed. I called our EAP and set up an appointment. I just feel for me, I have to find a way to get through this that is bigger than the garden, the bread, the clean basement and the healthy dog. COVID is not going to win. I will find my way.

COVID is not going to win. I will find my way.