COVID stinks

Juanita turns 24 in a few weeks. She doesn’t want to celebrate her birthday this year. In these last few months her moods swing from anxiety to anger and sadness.

Whenever she talks to co-workers, friends and family there is constant talk about COVID-19. She notices that people are afraid and have many questions with no real answers.

It’s as if there is an endless loop that keeps playing over and over every day.

  • When will a vaccine be available?
  • Can we travel abroad any time soon?
  • How much longer will we need to wear masks?
  • When will we return to normal?
  • How long will our dreams be put-on-hold?

Juanita feels helpless. She worries about saying the wrong thing and further upsetting others. Mostly Juanita withholds questions, opinions and feelings about COVID-19because she doesn’t want to repeat what everyone else is saying.

Juanita stops checking her phone when it pings with another COVID update. Although she prefers to cancel updates altogether, her job requires that she receive the latest pandemic news. As she scrolls headlines, she becomes discouraged and overwhelmed.

Drinking doesn’t help.

On weekends Juanita gets together with friends for several hours at an outdoor bar. They drink wine until they become intoxicated. Wobbling into an Uber ride, they return home feeling some relief from constant thoughts of COVID.

The next morning Juanita nurses a major hangover and swears she won’t drink so much next time. Yet she repeats the same routine weekend after weekend. It’s so much easier to deal with five days of COVID conversations when she has two days of binge drinking to shut out the world.

After one too many drinks, Juanita trips and breaks her leg. She is in a cast, walks on crutches for several weeks, followed by physical therapy for another three months. The doctor says she is lucky that she didn’t sustain injury to her ribs and other bones.

Juanita doesn’t want to drink and risk hurting herself again. Instead of spending time at her place, Juanita’s friends continue with their bar visits. She remains at home alone on the weekends. Co-workers and family drop off food and notes to keep her spirits up, but she remains in a continuous funk. Juanita now resorts to drinking and getting high in front of the TV, ordering take-out and sleeping on the couch.

Is this my 2020 story, Juanita asks? Am I doomed to live under COVID’s control? Is there a bigger picture? How do I take care of myself? I am sick and tired of feeling out-of-control, discouraged and living in an ongoing nightmare.

Inside one of the get-well notes Juanita finds the card of a wellness coach. Within minutes she is on the website and is drawn to these words: Peace, Love and Joy. Is it possible to experience positivity during a pandemic? Juanita pours over the information, reads the wellness blogs and schedules a session.

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