Opinion

A Frantic Flare: Putting COVID-19 Anxiety to Rest

Can We Bury Grief While Carrying It? 

By: Sidney Mansueto

Anxiety was something I had to learn to cope with. There was only one way to do just that: put one foot in front of the other. Credit: Forbes.com

Without a single warning that a crisis was going to threaten society, the novel coronavirus disease was declared a pandemic. I was sitting in my World Literature class when my professor started talking about the possibility of schools closing, and I felt uncertain and worried upon hearing this. 

“How will I continue my studies and adapt to this situation all at once?” I thought as my worry lines appeared and my blood pressure sharpened. To be honest, I was hoping that schools would remain open, and that this new disease was just a bump in the road and life would be back to normal soon. 

My hopes were shattered when I learned of indefinite closures and orders to stay home and “socially distance.” Then, the horror story continued: concerts and sports were cancelled, birthdays were postponed, and people were dying from this monstrous virus every second. 

Normalcy had turned into a foreigner. Days went by, weeks came and went, and grief crushed me down to the core. I carried it everywhere, from my bedroom to the fridge, and back again. 

The days became longer, and my motivation shorter. It seemed like my grief went more places than me. Anxiety was something I had to learn to cope with, while still being able to live my best life. 

There was only one way to do just that: put one foot in front of the other. 

Finding a coping mechanism to stay healthy was rooted in my interests and hobbies. I read three books daily, started writing more creatively, and took a hiatus from social media. A social media break is very much needed, especially in times of crisis. 

Never in a million years does a person think they are going to have to live through a global pandemic. Political ideologies were at war with each other, the media had a habit of spewing hysteria and fear-mongering, and the people were suddenly the weakest of the chain. Powerless, there was no hope. 

I was having a solid year before the coronavirus blew up. I was in my junior year of college, studying English, and reached my second semester as a member of the school newspaper. 

I was already working there as a writer, and later was elected as the spring semester’s Managing Editor. It is safe to say that things were going great until reality of the disease kicked in. 

Everyone was unemployed, and everyone was affected by COVID-19. Thinking about the empty classrooms, and the depression and anxiety educators were feeling at the height of this pandemic made my heart ache. 

There is something warm about the comfort of being in a classroom, and not being there left me angry and depressed. Distance learning was my new normal, and it didn’t feel the same. 

I broke down, cried, cried twice more, took a nap, and then got up to go forward along this path of life. Socialization made me feel alive and human, and now I was forced to socialize through a Zoom chat. 

School was something I cherished. Junior year had suddenly become a memory. 

Living through coronavirus also meant not living in fear. The saying was on every corner of social media: “This too shall pass.” Coronavirus, a temporary problem, took everything away from us, and we had no idea. Society crippled, and hope disappeared. 

As the numbers start to slowly decline, we begin to heal in our own way, even when we are carrying mounds of grief on our shoulders. 

There is nothing more hurtful than the grief that comes with loss. Loss forces us to cope with everything, from daily life to relationships. There is a pause that distracts us and causes us to wonder with anxiety: “When will this be over.” 

This question is frequently asked and remains unanswered. Not even the experts have an exact date or data that can make an educated prediction. 

The thing about grief is, it never “goes away.” It stays within us forever, teaching us to go forward and learn new ways to adapt to change. 

Developing a healthy coping mechanism, such as attending therapy or counseling, can guide us through the science of human reactions, and their interchangeable ways. 

Some say that with time comes healing. I disagree, and I believe that grief is buried with emotional scar tissue that helps us deal with the everlasting pain it leaves.

 

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