Waking Up to COVID-19
/ Author: Andre van Heerden
/ Categories: Blogs, Newsletters /
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Waking Up to COVID-19

We’re now into week 10 since the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11 and restrictions were imposed. Provinces are slowly beginning to reopen and ease restrictions, and they can’t come soon enough for some of us

By André van Heerden, Communications Director

Before I get into bed for the night, I’ve always made one last trip into my children’s bedrooms to check on them and give them a kiss. No matter how stressful a day might have been—or even how difficult that child may have been—it always fills me with a sense of peace and love watching them. They might not be sweet little babies anymore, but they’re still wonderful when they’re asleep!

Sometimes, I get to hear them say ridiculous things. My oldest daughter, who is a frequent animated sleep-talker, was once describing someplace that she could see. When I asked her where she was, she replied with a blissful grin, “I’m in happy town.”

This past week, when I kissed our youngest daughter, she immediately scurried away and said, “Six feet away! Social distancing.” She then curled up next to the wall. Clearly she wasn’t in happy town.

The next morning, she didn’t remember any of it, and we had a good laugh about her reaction.

While humorous, two things struck me about her reaction. One, the message of keeping safe from the virus had certainly reached her. Two, how much was this affecting her emotionally and mentally?

She is only eight and doesn’t pay much attention to the news. Of everyone in our house, she’s quite sheltered and oblivious to bigger events going on in the world.

Her daily routine has changed a great deal because she can’t go to school, do her sports, or have friends over to play with, but generally her days are pretty full. She has siblings to play with, online schoolwork to do, and an open field nearby on which to roam.

How much does it say that such a happy-go-lucky child reacts with a jolt of fear dreaming of the outbreak while tucked up nicely in her bed?

Recently, I learned that two CLAC members and the 22-year-old son of another member (all from the same area) had died by suicide within the past few weeks. This sad news was just from one CLAC rep.

It seems that warnings from health experts about the mental toll the pandemic will have are coming true.

People who don’t suffer from depression, who have good family connections, who are financially stable, are still feeling stressed. Now imagine if you’re already anxious, completely isolated, confined with family you don’t get along with, or have lost your job, which paid the bills and kept your mind on other things.

The virus can be deadly, but the repercussions of the steps to combat it can be deadly too.

There are lots of places to look for help with mental health. CLAC has a webpage dedicated to COVID-19-related mental health articles and sources and even free counselling.

But, ironically, I think even the variety and volume of advice and information can be daunting and stress-inducing. If only there was an easy way to relieve some of the stress and worry.

I’d recommend as a first step hugging those who you’re able to hug. Talking to those who you’re able to talk to. Getting outside where you’re able to and get some sunshine and fresh air. Helping those who you’re able to help. Listening to those who need to talk.

And be thankful for any of the above. It might just help you get a good night’s sleep with some hopefully pleasant dreams.

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