The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years. It added enormous pressure to everyday life, turning minor stresses into traumas. Anxieties blossomed into depressions. Depressions grew more painful and powerful, becoming more dangerous and in too many cases, deadly. An NPR article, reporting the results of an American Psychological Association (APA) survey, says “more people are seeking help for certain kinds of mental health issues, especially anxiety disorders, depression, and trauma and stress related disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbances and addiction.” The APA survey also reveals that more than half of responding psychologists have no openings for new patients. The senior director of health care innovations at APA, Vaile Wright, says “…there are a variety of ways that individuals experienced trauma during the pandemic. It could be the loss of a loved one and the grief that comes along with that. It could be one’s own sickness and the impact of hospitalizations.” Looking back at my experiences during the worst of the pandemic, when thankfully I did not suffer directly from the virus, I recognize that period had a lasting effect on me that cannot be erased, no matter how much support or treatment I could receive. Many, many people had experiences that were magnified several-fold. I cannot imagine trying to cope with losing multiple members of one’s family and friends to COVID while being sick with the virus personally. Considering the millions of people who were directly affected, it is no wonder many psychologists say there is a mental health crisis in this country. Worldwide, is a more realistic scope, I think.
The sky beyond the trees is pale blue, almost white, and the forest is dead-still. The few remaining leaves are frozen in space, as if in a still-life painting. Even pine needles are absolutely motionless. It is not hard to believe that, by waving my hand to introduce even a slight movement to the air outside my window, I could cause the leaves to become agitated and alive with activity. The most modest breeze will accomplish that, though. When the air decides to move on from where it rests, motionless, it will disturb the leaves’ peace. What, I wonder, give air a reason to move on? What motivates movement? As I glance up toward a distant tree-top, I see movement; a bird, perhaps, or a squirrel. The motion is brief, though. The air is so still it cannot be jostled into sustained movement by something so small.
Much to my chagrin, I was awakened at 6 by my alarm clock. I set it last night as a back-up, just in case I did not awake early. I have to get dressed and ready to drive into town by 8. My desired leisure time this morning is just a wish; an unfulfilled dream. The calendar for the day refuses to give me any extended periods of tranquility. I have obligations tomorrow and the day after and the day after that, as well. Ach! Why do I allow myself to get into such situations?