The invisible burden of the pandemic
Writing about my perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic has been on my mind for some time. However, it wasn't until recently that I discovered that there is something I have to express, no matter how drama-free I felt my experience thus far was.
We all know the numbers, the statistics, the research, the effort, the impact on our economy. We all probably know someone who got sick, lost someone to COVID-19, lost a job, lost something significant. I considered myself not to be too affected by the pandemic, since I did not experience a significant personal loss. At least I thought so.
I don't know how you cope with crises, but I try to rationalize and keep a positive outlook. It took me a couple of years to admit that I am, in fact, not well, no matter how hard I tried to play the hero part in my immediate community.
So, what happened?
Looking back, I feel as though the pandemic infiltrated every part of my life, starting with the sky-high and growing workload. I said to myself, it is no big deal, it could be worse. But in time, day, after day, it does become tiring and exhausting. I brushed it off, I do work in the field of medicine, it is never easy, right? Also, I love my job. Why do I feel so tired and unmotivated, then? This puzzled me, as I tried to use every technique available to boost my mood, get my energy level up, and recuperate. I was mindful of all the good things I had in my life, I gave my best to appreciate every day. Eventually, it stopped working.
Recently, a series of events in my life forced me to reflect and think about how I feel. The truth was, I was depleted. Turns out, introverts, such as myself, also need positive and ongoing social interaction to thrive and recharge. I lost the ability to take part in activities I thought of as essential for my well-being. I participated in choirs and ensembles for a long time, and suddenly that stopped. A significant part of my life was amputated and taken away, the one helping me heal and thrive. Family gatherings turned into carefully planned events, clouded by a fear of spreading the virus to vulnerable family members. An unpredictable work schedule made it difficult to spend quality time with my three-year-old son.
So, you see, nothing too dramatic happened. But, as it turns out, I lost a lot of my resilience mechanisms, leaving me to cope on my own. Finally, I gave myself the right to feel like I lost something. No matter where your role in the fight against the pandemic was, I believe you have the right to heal and mend the things that make your life not only livable but beautiful as well.
By Dr. med. Ana Zelić Kerep