It’s been almost two years since we were introduced to COVID-19. I think I’m finally self-regulating in a world that is still experiencing daily upheaval – the new normal. The transition wasn’t a smooth one, not for me anyway. Our lives changed dramatically and rapidly and it took a while to orientate myself through the tsunami of personal chaos that came with the pandemic. It was like getting off a merry-go-round then trying to walk in a straight line as the world is swirling around me. Now that I have moved beyond survival mode and have settled into more of a routine I feel more adjusted to this bizarre reality we live in. Diving into my work has helped. Since the pandemic started I started taking stock of what we all went through collectively over the last couple of years and now where we are globally today. I have made several notes as I heard personal COVID stories, read news articles and witnessed things every day directly related to COVID. I put these scribblings onto Post-It-Notes, back of receipts and even as entries on my phone. I am now combining them into a manifesto for my future grandchildren. A tale of white-knuckling through a pandemic and how COVID-19 stopped the world in its tracks. It will be called Our Breaking Point: How COVID Has Us Exhausted, Irritable and Overwhelmed.
Living in a pandemic isn’t easy. We try to stay safe and follow all the COVID precautions but still somehow go on with our daily lives. We walk on the side of safety and well-being for all but somehow still try to exercise some kind of personal freedom and autonomy. Some days it takes twice the effort to do everything and anything. We must constantly plan around protection. The COVID monkey on our backs is wearing us down and we are seeing the symptoms of it. Our patience and tolerance are getting tested. By the end of the day you just want to whip your mask off and plop yourself in front of the TV for the rest of the evening.
After a year and a half COVID fatigue has set in. Now we learn fatigue is an actual symptom of COVID especially Long COVID that could last several months. We have pandemic burnout combined with fatigue from having COVID. How much more can one take? Our collective fatigue is causing long-term mental health effects that is overwhelming support systems. The people working in the support systems need support . Living though a pandemic is making us exhausted, irritable and overwhelmed. We are reaching a breaking point.
I am fortunate because I live in a rich country where protection gear and supplies are readily available, and even free in some cases, but what about the developing countries where they are not? We cannot even begin to imagine the stress the people of poorer countries have had to endure to keep themselves safe. They were also not provided any financial assistance during the lockdown and left to fend for themselves while simultaneously not allowed to leave their homes (if they were lucky enough to have one).
We learned through 2020 that workers who were deemed essential were pushed to their limits with little appreciation or monetary gains. If they got sick they didn’t get paid. Most of these essential workers had to work over-time or two jobs to make ends meet. The pandemic accentuated the growing divide between those who controlled the wealth and, well, the rest of us.
The pandemic is likely not going away in 2022. All my hopes are for large face-to-face gatherings where I can see everyone’s face, travelling with family and friends without worry or anxiety and most importantly being able to hug someone without the risk of contracting the virus still seems several months away. These are simple things that really matter. The human social connection is what makes us human, in fact, what even keeps us alive.
Living in a pandemic is the new normal with really no end game in sight.
My new book, Our Breaking Point: How COVID has us Exhausted, Irritable and Overwhelmed will be coming out January 2022. I feel most of everyone in the world can relate in one way or another.