Finding out that my employer was closing all preschool programs for two weeks surprised me. Not only was this paid time off, but I would Finally get a chance to relax, catch up on my blog, clean, organize, and sleep! It was Going to be a two-week mini vacation, right? Wrong!!
I do not watch the news(it’s depressing) I guess you can say I depend on social media to tell me what is going on in the world. Not only that, I admit that I do love the Shade room and all the juicy gossip that comes from their blog page I consider “Juicy news mixed with informative news. I first heard about the virus back at the end of last December. My co-worker asked me had I heard about this new virus called the “corona virus”. I thought to myself “Corona”? a virus from beer”? My co worker had explained how it started in china and how many people were becoming deathly ill. On my lunch I looked up information on the virus the corona virus and what I read was shocking. People that were traveling had to have their temperature taken multiple times at the airport, any signs of illness would be handled immediately, and almost every person I saw in a picture had a medical face mask. What the hell was going on, was this the regular flu? Well not exactly. In the coming days I started to hear more and more about the virus on social media. The comments warped me in, and I started to get different information on social mecia from people that were posting and commenting. I wondered if it would travel to the united states, were we next?
By January there were cases of COVID-19 not only in china, but in other parts of the world eventually reaching the united states. I am an early childhood educator, working on the floor with children, so our protocols on health and safety became a little stricter, Hand washing became even more frequent, sanitizing surfaces and toys were also implemented daily. My co teachers and I talked to parents about proper hand washing, what to do when their child becomes ill, what to do when they become ill, and we gave each parent a handout explaining what the virus is and what to look for. At this point things were still pretty normal for me. I would go to work, walk my dog, go to the store, pick up essentials like toilet paper and soap without having to worry about if it were there. Life for me had not changed, life for the people around me had not changed, my routine was much like…. a routine, until it was not.
As the virus had reached the united states, specifically California, I started to freak out a little. How would the virus effect my work? How would the virus impact my families that I serve? How would it impact the state as a whole? Is this virus that deadly? In the middle of march, I decided to take a few days off for my anniversary. Two days before I was set to go on my vacation my coworker had expressed that she was frustrated because she went on her routine store trip for her family and she revealed that tissue, hand sanitizer, bleach, Lysol, and paper towels were flying off the shelves. I thought to myself what does tissue have to do with becoming sick? I mean, you can only wipe your nose so much before it starts to become raw. I had to look this up, as a ,matter of fact I have to see this for myself, so after my shift I made my way to The local CVS pharmacy because I didn’t feel like going into a big grocery store. When I walked down the tissue isle, I saw a lot of toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. I thought to myself “what was she talking about? It is a plethora of ass paper and other household supplies”. I bought what I needed to get, and I went on my way. Thursday When my vacation day started, I saw many posts on social media about how toilet paper was becoming a hot commodity and how people were in a panic,”Mass Hysteria” was what one article called it. I thought to myself again “why are these people buying up all this ass paper like this”? I went on with my day and put this news in the back of my mind. Boom, Friday comes around. On this day I am playing my R&B, cleaning, folding clothes, and looking up fun activities to implement for my kiddos, I actually looked forward to going back to work that Monday, I was pumped! By the Friday evening I received a text from my supervisor stating that our center would be closing for two weeks due to COVID-19 virus making its way so close to home. By this time there were a few cases reported in our area. Not only was our center closing, but other centers, and school districts in the local counties were closing as well. “shit” I thought “this is serious”. It made it even more real when I checked my work email and the CEO of the organization confirmed closures of all childcare centers. Panic started to set in for me on that day. During the weekend I started to see why all the ass paper and household cleaning products were disappearing, people were getting ready for something big, something that we never thought would happen, a state lock down.
The first couple of days were the Bomb! I took so many great naps, ate good snacks, (oh the yummy snacks) cleaned things that I had planned on cleaning before but put it off, organized my sneakers and clothes, took online training’s for work, I even had time to read books on my kindle that were sitting there waiting to be read. As I finished the tasks on my “Get it Done” list I found myself becoming anxious, more anxious than usual. I already suffer from severe depression and Anxiety. My daily Routine, work, and my kiddos made me busy, so busy that the anxiety took a backseat and never interrupted my driving. My anxiety started to peak when it was announced that the state of California was on a quarantine. A quarantine? Wait, so now I see why the ass paper was flying off the shelf, we were to become confined to our homes for the coming weeks maybe longer. No more get together’s, parties, and mall trips. I thought to myself it should not be too bad, I am off for another week, and by the time I go back everything will have gone back to normal, i will be able to go out and socialize,Wrong again!
This quarantine no longer felt like a vacation, for me, it was the start of loneliness and extreme anxiety. First, it was No public gatherings with 50 people or more, then it went down to 20, Then 10, then to no physical contact, then basically to the powers that be stating “Stay your ass at home period”. There was no shopping, movie trips, or going out to eat. I am not built like this; I cannot possibly stay inside and do nothing for the next week. To keep my anxiety levels down I did things that would occupy my time, I worked on developmental assessments for work, I finally got to read “Make room” by my favorite gospel artist Jonathan Reynolds. Netflix was a huge source of my entertainment; Tidal music was another. My coworkers and I started to do group text daily to check in with one another, and of course good old Social media. But eventually Netflix no longer stimulated me, i found myself talking to my small dog rocky, I had gotten so bored that I would run out of things to do and my thoughts would start to race, Would I get the virus? Are my families okay? Are my coworkers okay? Is this it? Was Jesus coming to save his people? Was this the end of the world? It certainly felt like it.
I never thought I would see the day where I was excited to get dressed to make a trip to go to the grocery store. I would start to get anxious in the grocery store because i had never seen shelves so empty, it looked like something from the film “Bird Box” or a cliche zombie movie. I had to stop at many different stores daily to find toilet paper. Getting out and taking those “essential” trips eased my anxiety a bit, because i wasn’t on house arrests, but at the same time i became frustrated. I missed my boring, routine having consistent scheduled life. Yes, I am an introvert but when you do not have the option to go and come when you want, it gets pretty intense being indoors. This was my life now; this was all of our lives. As days passed certain things started to trigger my anxiety, things like:
- The news
- Seeing every human with masks on
- Uncertain of what will happen
- Would I or any of my family catch the virus
- Would I lose my job?
- Would the economy crash?
- Will I find ass paper?
- People coughing or sneezing around me
- Zombie Apocalypse?
My employer posted mental health resources for staff and families. I haven’t called the hotline yet, but the way i have been feeling i will be calling soon. I didn’t realize how much COVID-19 affected a persons mental health until it effected me, a person who already deals with depression and an anxiety disorder. An online article for the health reform website stated that A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health; and recent data shows that significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering in place (37%). Negative mental health effects due to social isolation may be particularly pronounced among older adults and households with adolescents, as these groups are already at risk for depression or suicidal ideation. Research shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide. Recent polling data shows that more than half of the people who lost income or employment reported negative mental health impacts from worry or stress over coronavirus, and lower income people report higher rates of major negative mental health impacts compared to higher income people.
This Virus not only poisons the body, but as you can see from the statistics it poisons the mind. COVID-19 has changed my life, it has changed all of our lives, but most importantly it has changed the way I look at medicine and our brave health care professionals. I am just a teacher who is at home, comfortable, no exposure, with food, ass paper and technological entertainment. If I am experiencing severe anxiety and depression, I can only imagine what police officers, doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, mail workers, and amazon workers feel like. As California continues to flattens the curve, it personally gives me hope that I will be able to serve my families again, I will be able to step outside without a mask, and gloves. I will be able to breathe the air freely, hug my kiddos, hug my coworkers, shake hands, connect with people by having close contact, But I also know it may never get back to “normal”. As of today, our childcare centers including mine remain closed (except for 9 centers who provide emergency care for essential workers) we are set to return on July 1stth, 2020. I look forward to that glorious day, but I am also mindful that the May 15th date can be pushed back again based on if we as a community are doing what needs to be done to keep all of us safe, which is STAYING HOME!!! I guess we will see within the coming weeks. God Bless You All and Let us Keep Up the good work!
If you have feelings of Anxiety or depression please call these support hotlines Below:
NAMI HelpLine | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
Monday-Friday, 10am–6pm ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
LifeLine Crisis Chat: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.
If it is a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – For youth and adults
(800) 273-TALK (8255) 1(800)799-4889 (options for deaf and hard of hearing)
Veteran’s Crisis Line
Text TEEN2TEEN to 839863
National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape, Sexual Assault, Abuse, and incest (RAINN)
Have you experienced any mental health during this pandemic?
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Cite: Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Orgera, K., @cynthiaccox, C. C. F., Garfield, R., Hamel, L., … Chidambaram, P. (2020, April 21). The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/
Featured Photo: http://www.sactownmag.com/Blog/2020/coronavirus-mental-health-Q&A-2020/