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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dara

Dear anyone that feels like they have been challenged beyond measure,

Almost a year ago, our world as we knew it changed. We were introduced to COVID-19. We had NO idea what was ahead of us. People started getting very sick, very fast. “It is just the flu,” some said. But, people were dying. I remember the dumbstruck emotion that came over me when I saw my cousin's family friend’s wife on CNN. Her husband– a charismatic father of two, well respected teacher, and beloved community member, died suddenly and sadly, alone in the hospital from COVID-19. Reality set in. Unfortunately, stories like this became common for our family and friends. The fear and bleakness of our nation's abominable future became strikingly clear and imminent when my husband and I tested positive for COVID the first week of June.

We became part of the statistics as many Americans stormed and swarmed our land of the free with continued arrogance and belligerence, unmasked and with complete disregard for how their actions would affect others. People who tested positive were ashamed to speak of their Coronavirus, fearful of ridicule and judgement as the stigma of COVID grew, leaving sick people to suffer in silence.

Yet, those selfish or in denial repeatedly harped, “This is America. Illness and “pandemics” happen in other countries– not in the United States. It won’t happen to me. It happens to other people. COVID only happens to dirty people”.

The pandemic began with the feeling of a Florida hurricane. Some people heed warnings and demonstrate great respect for the severity of the potential, while others were nonchalant on the beach chasing the eye of the storm and mocking the cautious efforts of others. This storm, the pandemic, was different because the worst case scenario was unknown territory and there was no play book to help plan. The destruction from COVID has continued. It has caused financial problems, occupational distress, marital discord, grief and people suffering with declining mental health (anxiety, depression, isolation, increased alcohol and drug use). The pandemic in conjunction with our country’s current state of political affairs has us mortified, unsettled and scared. Babies are being born unable to meet their grandparents. Seniors are in assisted living facilities without the touch of their loved ones. Extended families have been estranged for almost a year. People are dying alone in hospitals without their families.

I am fearful of the magnitude COVID-19 has had on people physically affected. I am concerned for every American emotionally impacted. How will it continue to manifest for my family and I? Will there be an end? I am strong mentally and physically. Yet, to date, I am still challenged by the residuals of COVID. I still do not have all my taste and my eyesight has been impaired. The anxiety, loss of smell, ringing in my ears, memory loss, irritability, fatigue and shortness of breath have subsided. I took drastic and dramatic measures to ensure the stability of my health that most would not be able to access. My husband is reminded daily by an involuntary twitch in his neck as a result of how COVID compromised his healing from a prior accident setting him months, if not years back from a full recovery. We will continue to prevail, but how do we help those that don’t have the strength or the resources to carry themselves through the quicksand of COVID-19 and this pandemic?

What will be the residual effects physically? Will there be repercussions and rebound effects to our mental health and illness? How will this pandemic and COVID-19 continue to impact us? How will COVID continue to dictate our future? How do we help our children and grandchildren navigate and compensate until they are reunited with in-person learning? When can we safely visit and hug our families?

Vaccinations have begun and despite the chaos, there is hope for wellness and the return of connection. America will rebound and will rebuild.

Each of us has a choice to make, RIGHT NOW…. It is our responsibility to be part of the solution. The foundation of the solution is maintaining social distances and #maskitup. It is a privilege to question ourselves as

John F. Kennedy said, “it is not what our country can do for us, it is what we can do for our country.”

NOW is our time to make a greater commitment to humanity and treat others how we want to be treated. NOW is our time to be the change we wish to see in the world. Now is the time we clean up our own side of the street and take the gifts and blessings we are learning from this pandemic and manifest love. We must carry our “new norms” forward with pride and excitement so this pandemic experience does not go in vain.

Your no bull-shiFt, advice giving, shame-abolishing, COVID-RANTING, Mom, Psychologist and wife,

Dr. Dara

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