We have been dealing with COVID-19 for over a year now, and on March 11th, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus pandemic. The last thing I did was go out to a birthday dinner right before the shutdown happened, and the dinner party happened on March 14th. Only three days later, a stay-at-home order was in place. We could no longer go to restaurants, stores, malls, and events such as weddings and other parties had to be canceled. Everyone had to stay six feet apart from each other and not socialize at all. Everyone also panicked by buying up all of the toilet paper in every supermarket, box store, and drugstore. If you found toilet paper on those shelves in March and April of last year, it was like winning the lottery.

At the same time, what made it scarier was that no one knew a thing about COVID-19. There was a lot of guesswork, and that is why at the time, health officials told everyone to wear gloves if they had to go grocery shopping. It took months for them to find out that the virus did not live long on surfaces, and that is when they said to leave the gloves at home. Everyone had to wear face masks which became a political issue in many parts of the world *eye roll*.

The pandemic has been a time for much confusion, heightened domestic violence, grief, sadness, and isolation. I will say a prayer for those who lost their lives tragically to the virus and their families and friends. But I will also say a prayer to those who succumbed to not the virus but to mental illness. There was a sharp rise in suicides during the pandemic.

Over a million people died from COVID-19 over the past year, but let’s not forget about the other millions who could not get a handle on their mental health and took their lives. Those are the people that were shamed and were told that if they ‘only tried harder to think positively,’ they would not have had to be so ‘selfish.’ Yes, I am tired of those, more than tired of those who dismiss sufferers of mental illnesses. When life is going well, managing a mental illness is a lot of work. However, if external influences can help because things are going well for the individual, managing mental illness is easier.

However, when dealing with the tragedies, the shock of the sudden shutdowns, and the grief that come with the pandemic, that makes mental illness more difficult to manage. That is especially if you are stuck with narcissistic family members who you cannot escape from or are stuck with caring for a violent special needs child. That makes pandemic life so much worse. Even if you don’t have any of that going on, you are at risk for worsening during the pandemic if you have a mental illness.

People with mental illness need therapy and medication unless they are resistant to it, like me. They need reassurance that things will be okay and that these tragic times will not last forever. Unfortunately, when the pandemic started this time last year, there was none of that. No one could provide any reassurance that the pandemic would end and that life would return to normal. Scientists and doctors knew very little about the virus back then. Those who have good mental health struggled too, so imagine how this has been for those who have mental illnesses. Sadly, many of those people living with mental illness lost their battles to it.

Very few took their mental health seriously. That is why many people told sufferers to work on improving themselves during the shutdowns, learn a new skill, learn a language, take walks, and enjoy time with their families. When you have a condition such as Major Depressive Disorder like I do, there is a risk of the illness getting out of hand even if it was well controlled before the pandemic hit. When the illness becomes out of control, you are in survival mode, and the last thing you will want to do is anything related to building skills or self-improvement. Sure, walks help, but that is not the answer when you are struggling with your mental health because the clouds of uncertainty and sudden shock take over. It does not help that conspiracy theorists deny that there is a pandemic, especially those who are so-called wellness practitioners, worsen things for others with mental illnesses.

Yes, I have struggled a lot during last year’s shutdown, and I even had a worse time of it, this time during the worst part of winter and facing another lockdown. I had to face the ugly things that I have been hiding, such as the trauma that I never wanted to acknowledge. I had plans to create some courses, and I wanted to start in January, but I could not since I was lashing out and in survival mode. I was not pleasant to be around, and I am not apologetic because I will never apologize for struggling at a difficult time. I am just starting to get into it right now. However, even though I have Major Depressive Disorder and it was getting worse as a result of this, I also knew, even from the beginning, that the COVID-19 pandemic will not last forever because nothing does. Nothing lasts forever, good or bad. And I have a little secret to share too.

Yes, we are still dealing with the pandemic, but here is the thing. Scientists and doctors know so much more about COVID-19 than they did last spring. We also have vaccinations happening, even though the rollout has been pathetic in Canada, but either way, it will keep moving forward as it finally has for several weeks. There will be an end in sight to the pandemic. I also enjoy the fact that the so-called wellness practitioners who spread fear about vaccines and other conspiracy theories about the pandemic are becoming silenced. They are becoming a minority and do not pose a threat to the end of the pandemic.

However, there is one advantage of having depression if you want to look at it that way. You see things more realistically, Yes, economies will open up and things will for the most part ‘go back to normal’ sometime during the second half of this year. But people will not know what to do with themselves, They will have so much anxiety and fear about it. There will be a lot of social anxiety coming out, and it won’t be so peachy like people think. Therefore, I am not oblivious to the fact that there will be a set of new challenges awaiting as the result of that.

So right now, I will end this by lighting a candle for those who lost their lives to COVID-19, as well as to succumbing to mental illness.

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