OPINION: Surviving COVID-19 – By Mosa Telford

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Surviving COVID-19 is not just about being able to breathe. For what is living when it appears that our souls have departed our bodies and have left us listless and cold. Many people are silently suffering. They see themselves trapped in cages within their minds, screaming for help, but no one hears them.

They are either too frightened or proud to seek help; too worried about being judged; too afraid that he or she who was once thought to be strong and resilient is now timid because COVID-19 has taken their peace of mind.     

COVID-19 plays on the emotions, confidence and stability of the people. The echoes of the mourning from around the world is like COVID playing instruments; laughing, mocking and reminding us that we are mortal.

Just when you thought you have seen the worst, new variants emerge and there are reports of bodies floating in rivers in India; mass graves in Brazil; and cremating the dead in clusters like those gone were just an insignificant number.

Even with vaccines, it is being reported that the number of infected are increasing in some places and the number of the dead keeps rising. Like here in Guyana.

A few weeks ago, I watched a funeral via Zoom. It was for three family friends who transitioned some months ago because of COVID. It was a painful and disturbing experience. It was not only that COVID was responsible for the deaths of three people I knew, but it was also those who were at the funeral. Like characters in a play, I watched them move in the cemetery. COVID is a long psychological tragedy. It was the masks on the faces of the people and the flashes of memories; it was the dark clothing and the overcast; the sadness and the tears and the sorrowful singing as they lowered them into the ground replaying in my mind for days after, threatening my mental health.

It was the voice of a loved one a few months ago that heightened my awareness about the impact COVID is having on mental health. Our social gatherings had ceased and all we had were our voices on the phones reassuring each other that we were not alone in this. We could talk about our theories about how the virus started. What would come next? How many more would die? How long would it last? How soon will a cure be found? How will we survive?

Surviving COVID is being prepared for the situation to worsen at any moment. But when someone shares that they almost walked off the edge it terrifies you. You are reminded that even some of the strongest are hanging on the edge of the precipice. The sudden loss of freedoms is too much for some of our relatives and friends. The fear, often coming through the screens in the form of updates, has sullied their hope. The rising number of deaths has caused them to question their will to survive. But like divine guardians it is our voices and words of encouragement that give our relatives and friends hope. There is also the help of professionals. But many are still hanging on the edge of the precipice, reminding us that we must constantly check and keep watch on our loved ones.

A year ago, amid the election drama and the growing fears about COVID, I decided that one of my coping mechanisms would be silence. Though we have been forced in many instances to detach from relatives and friends, we must also choose to detach sometimes. Not to detach when it does more harm than good but to detach for growth and healing. To find solace. To reconnect with nature. Simple pleasures like watching the sun rise and feeling its warmth or listening to the raindrops while in bed at night or early in the morning; or even watching the waves; these simple activities we can use as medicine for surviving the mental torture than comes with COVID.

Surviving COVID could mean logging out of social media. While there are many positives in the constant flow of information, the toxicity of social media can also negatively impact the experiences we are having during this pandemic. We can also turn off the televisions, our radios and mobile phones and make time to be one with ourselves. Whether we choose to just sit quietly, escape for a while through meditation or do the rituals of whatever spiritual path we have chosen, we choose.

Surviving COVID is not just about saying we have not been infected, or that we have recovered or that at least we are still alive. It is not just about being vaccinated and pretending there is no more risk. There is still so much mystery around this virus. We must be wise and continue to keep ourselves informed.

This pandemic is about taking personal responsibility. To prevent the further spread of the virus we must all be responsible. It is about our holistic health. What we put into our bodies, how we are caring our bodies and our mental health. We can call on professionals and our loved ones and have the village rally around us if we feel that we can no longer cope.

One day I made the decision to stop worrying about COVID. I stopped looking at the daily updates. I quickly scrolled past the panicked social media posts or hid them from my feed. I tried to avoid conversations about the subject. It was not that I wanted to pretend that COVID no longer existed, but I was exhausted. It had been months of fear and uncertainty, and that is no way to live. I am happy I did.

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Comments

  • the only  On 05/23/2021 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for this Mosa T.

  • Chris  On 05/23/2021 at 10:43 pm

    “Surviving COVID could mean logging out of social media.”

    I know what you mean. I have logged out of social media for almost a half a year now and I get messages from people wanting to know if I am okay. Social media lets you find out the dark and shallow sides of people that you didn’t know before and you can quickly lose friends and family members which can add to Covid and other stress levels. But what I detest the most about social media is the vainglorious, empty expectations of people wanting others to wish them a happy birthday (which is almost every day) when most don’t give a fig about doing so.

  • Bernard  On 05/24/2021 at 6:47 pm

    “Even with vaccines, it is being reported that the number of infected are increasing in some places and the number of the dead keeps rising.”

    On this note, with only 2% of the Japanese public vaccinated with only one dose, and Covid cases rising alarmingly, the Tokyo Olympics should be canceled. The Japanese authorities are being foolish to go ahead with their (ill-fated) decision to hold the games. It will be a disaster of historic proportions, especially when 90% of the Japanese people are calling for cancellation.

    Washington, meanwhile, has just issued a travel advisory to Americans not to travel to Japan. The colossal damage COVID-19 has caused to the world economy is immeasurable. The damage will be felt decades later.

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