Mindful Thoughts on Coronavirus–Year 2

In this post, I look back at two years of COVID, from my perspective.

Woman with mask covering face makes a hand gesture with the number 2

Two years ago, in the spring of 2020, the world ended (metaphorically speaking)…I CANNOT believe it has been that long!  COVID…I feel like it’s become a punchline…of the worst joke EVER! 😝  So many people lost income and jobs to the Coronavirus (I did), and so many lost their livelihoods.  So many people had their lives abruptly changed and for some things still haven’t returned to normal…

Here we are, two years in and there is STILL no obvious end in sight.  In South Dakota, things have been relatively normal for the last year or so.  We never had any real, state-wide mandates (masks or otherwise).  You see very few masks out in public these days. (People do still wear them occasionally, though they are rarely required anywhere–some of us work for a company that is headquartered in Philly that still requires us to wear masks to work meetings…in theory… 😇😉)

I know people in many areas of the country/world have only recently come out of all their restrictions…and some are being put back under restrictions as cases increase again due to new variants…ultimately, I am still awed at how a minuscule event in one corner of the world can shut the entire globe down…

The Majority of the US Population Now Has COVID Antibodies (whether through vaccines, natural immunity, or both)

I read recently that more than 60% of Americans have had the virus, in one form or another.  They also think that as much as 95% of Americans now have COVID antibodies, whether that be from the vaccines, natural immunity, or both.  Have we reached “herd immunity” yet?! 😤 *sigh*

Mr. Trekker and I Have Both 😝

I got my COVID booster in late November, Mr. Trekker got his in early December…and then we both got COVID (probably Omicron) in early January. Again…*sigh*

I got it from him, we have no idea how he got it. 😝  Also, his PCR test came back negative.  We know we had it though because I got the EXACT SAME symptoms a week later and my PCR test came back positive. 🙄

We didn’t have it too bad, it mostly felt like a bad sinus infection/cold. Interestingly enough, between the two of us, we were more worried about me getting it because I have mild asthma.  As it turned out, I hardly had a cough at all from COVID, while Mr. Trekker ended up with a mild cough for several weeks afterward…this virus is weird!

I also ended up with mild pinkeye as a side effect of COVID (apparently that isn’t too unusual with viruses.)  What is unusual is the only “Long Covid” symptom I’ve noticed.  My eyes have become INCREDIBLY sensitive.  They’ve always been that way but now, if they get dry from dust or wind, or if I am near any food that could be considered even the teeniest bit spicey, my eyes will begin to burn and water horribly (like to the point where I can’t see out of them. 😝)  This is especially true in my right eye which is also the one that had the worse pink eye symptoms.

Mindfulness in the Midst of a Worldwide Pandemic

After two years of feeling beaten down, I try and keep a somewhat positive attitude by being mindful of how the pandemic ACTUALLY played out vs. how the experts feared it might end up.

There have been almost one million deaths in the US from COVID in the last two years, and to be clear, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of these is awful!  However, when this whole mess started the experts were projecting more than two million deaths in the US alone, before the end of 2020, and that was with social distancing protocols being implemented.  I don’t mean to make light of the tragic losses that have occurred, but this FAR lower statistic is a pretty amazing feat!  It is a testament to the scientists, researchers, medical professionals, and technology we have available to us at this point in history!

Valid emotions during crisis situations:

We all experience and respond to crises differently but I think it’s important to acknowledge that whatever feelings you have regarding COVID are valid.  We should be mindful of how we express them, but don’t run from these emotions (be they positive or negative).  Accept them and acknowledge they are present (because they will be there whether you fight them or not).  It is important that we allow ourselves to feel whatever it is we need to while we navigate these complicated times.  Below are some emotions I’ve been experiencing throughout COVID:

Anger About the Pandemic:

Hoarding: People seem to think only of themselves and don’t save enough products for other people (some who may be seniors or the immune-compromised who really shouldn’t be going out).  If you aren’t the Duggars, or you aren’t buying toilet paper for multiple families, you don’t need that much, just stop. 😡 

On the other hand, we’re told not to hoard, but then the CDC and other emergency preparedness groups come out and say to have up to a month’s supply of food on hand…what are we supposed to do with those two bits of contradictory information? 🤷

The Media:  I often feel a sense of rage at the news media.  I’ve distrusted them in the past but after COVID I’ve become completely jaded–regarding the virus and most other news-worthy issues.  They mislead at every turn if it can cause controversy. (I probably shouldn’t be surprised anymore but I still am at points.)  I read a clickbait headline that makes one claim and then goes on to almost disprove itself if you read the actual text of the article, or watch the entirety of the video clip they reference in the article.  They aren’t openly lying, because there is a semblance of truth in what they say, but their claim is so far from the truth that it may as well be a lie with the message they’re proclaiming to the masses (and for the record, I don’t care which news source is your favorite, I’ve seen ALL of them do this.)

They seem to take pleasure in reporting bad news and stirring people up.  They don’t take the time to fully research information, that would apparently take too long. 🙄  It seems to be more important that they are “the first” to break a story.  The really shameful thing is, I don’t believe they care.  They just go happily along reporting bad news every chance they get because it may help a reporter’s career or a certain company’s reputation.

Depression and Anxiety over COVID:

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I struggle with anxiety, which obviously, COVID can cause.  One symptom of anxiety is catastrophizing.  This means your mind automatically jumps to worrying about the worst-case scenario and that has been SO EASY to do during COVID.

I believe I’m technically an optimist at heart.  I try to focus on the positive (although I worry about the worst-case scenario, of course, especially with my anxiety).  But it just feels like so many only want to focus on the worst thing that can happen and they want to scream that to the world.  Why?  Why do we seem to focus on things that make ourselves and others miserable?

We need to rely on Logic, not Emotion during these difficult situations!  I believe we have to be calm and logical when dealing with all of this.  I don’t mean to sound snarky, but why can’t people stay rational when things get difficult without immediately jumping to APOCOLYPSE?!  It feels like they’re pouring salt into an already raw, gaping wound…

I’m Less Optimistic Regarding COVID This Year…

The Coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet, unfortunately.  I’m starting to think it will NEVER be “fully” over, at least not for the next few decades.  I hold out hope that we’ll be able to remain living relatively-normal lives, but now I fear that regular vaccines (and perhaps even regular–hopefully mild–infections) are going to remain a part of “normal” life. 😕  

Last year I was hopeful that we were on our way out of this mess.  Now that I’ve done everything right (at least regarding getting my vaccines) and I STILL got COVID I’m more skeptical…

I believe in science. I believe it’s very possible the reason neither of the Trekkers got all that sick from this potentially deadly disease was due to our vaccines.  I also believe the reason neither of our parents have had confirmed COVID cases is due to vaccines.  And I am VERY thankful for these!  But when we got sick 1 MONTH after getting our boosters I just felt…DONE.  I think, at that moment, I just gave up.  It’s here, it isn’t going away, we have to learn to live with it….THE END. 😪

I understand the vaccines probably worked as intended as Mr. Trekker and I came through COVID relatively unscathed.  But we still got it, and I’m assuming if another variant (maybe one not related to Omicron) develops, we will likely be at risk of at least mild disease from that.  So, this is our “new normal”.  We will probably have at least annual vaccines with the threat of at least occasional, mild illness always looming…possibly for the rest of our lives…it sucks but I just feel like that’s what we have to adjust to and accept for the foreseeable future. *sigh*–again!

Searching for Hope and Encouragement in Crisis Situations

I have to end this post on a good note, right?

I can’t help it.  Even with my learned helplessness after two years of being beaten down by COVID, I still feel a glimmer of hope.

COVID was a unique time in our lives.  Many of us have never experienced something like this before.  As a (very OLD) Millenial, the only country-wide crisis I’ve really had to deal with was the September 11th terrorist attacks.  I grew up hearing stories about my grandparents’ generation dealing with World War II, the rationing of meat, the transitioning of factories to make equipment for the military, and the various drives people engaged in at home for the “war effort”.  I always wondered what it would be like to be able to do something like that to help your country.  Now I know…

Through all this, I’ve been reminded that there is a lot of good in the world, and times like these are when it really shows.

A lot of good things HAVE happened!  Vaccines were produced in an absolutely unheard-of, record time.  So many people bound together to help each other get through this crisis, from wearing masks and social distancing in public to those who volunteered their time to make masks for local schools and hospitals.  Others ran errands for people who felt they couldn’t go out.  Some small businesses transitioned to help their local communities (like distilleries that stopped producing alcohol and started producing hand sanitizer instead.)

I think a lot of the world’s goodness has been shown throughout COVID.  I know I’ve learned a lot, both about myself but also about the reality of country-wide/worldwide crises:  how they proceed, how people react to them, the good and the bad.

So there are things to be hopeful about regarding COVID!

What has the COVID crisis felt like where you live?  What POSITIVE things have you seen during this time of crisis?  Share your experiences in the comments!

 

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