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Blessings and lessons

Kari Swanson

When this whole COVID-19 outbreak started, 2 weeks ago, it seemed weird. It felt like people were overreacting and then it felt like the world was ending. My emotions have been up and then they crash down. I tell myself it’s fine and then I read something that makes me know it’s not. It’s become exhausting. At one moment I am questioning the orders being given to cancel school and cease all group activities and then am flabbergasted by the severity of the rising numbers from one day to the next of those being infected by COVID-19. At one moment I am frustrated about not being able to get the grocery items I went to the store to get and the hoarding that is going on and then I am hit with the number of people who have been laid off or have lost their jobs and income as a result of the virus spreading. The next moment I am emotional about the seniors possibly not finishing off their senior year, having a prom or even graduation then I am jolted back by the realization of the number of people who are dying from this virus, most alone because of quarantine and the families who are unable to have funerals, order flowers or celebrate their loved ones lives right now.

Emotional whiplash, if it wasn’t a thing before it’s a thing now. My mind goes in many different directions with the logic of the devastation that is occurring in our world right now and the number of things I took for granted that I am selfishly missing or selfishly don’t want to be taken away. I get caught up in my mind over something very miniscule and remind myself of the seriousness of this virus and the need to follow the directions of our government. I get it. I really do but I’m human. I remind myself daily of the big picture. The need to contain and limit the spread of this virus that has already claimed many lives and is currently inhabiting many many more. My inconvenience is for someone else, a lifesaving action. Think of that. Listening to the directions we are given with respect to social distancing and self-quarantining is saving lives, possibly our own, possibly our loved ones.

Throughout all of this though, I have not had fear. I’m not afraid of contracting COVID-19 nor am I afraid of my family contracting it. I know we are doing what we are told to do in terms of hygiene and distancing. I know it is scary and if contracted we will do what we have to do to take care of it. I credit my “not having fear” to my faith. I truly have faith over fear. People talk about faith over fear but I think this is when we see it, during times of uncertainty, during times of having absolutely no control of the situation. Are you going to question and complain about everything and be a nervous wreck or are you going to do your part in flattening the curve and have faith that this is temporary? Faith for me provides peace.

I like to think of people, places and situations as either having been a blessing to me or having provided a lesson to me. Instead of thinking of someone or something having been horrible in my life, I like to reflect on what I have learned from their existence in my life. Blessings of course are those situations in which we loved every minute and can’t wait to do it again. Going to Disney with my husband, children and my parents was a blessing. Lessons come in different forms. A person that was toxic in your life and is no longer in your life provided a lesson of what you will or won’t tolerate in relationships, friend or romantic. Situations, such as COVID-19 can provide lessons as well. What have you learned from this 2 week of social distancing and of the spread of this virus? What lessons has this experience provided you? Instead of looking at it as a nuisance, an inconvenience or a very scary situation, what will you take away from it? Maybe you will keep up with the hygiene protocol you have been doing in hopes to prevent any other spread of any other virus. Maybe you have connected with family more through family dinners and game nights that you will continue when this passes. Maybe you began face timing your grandparents who can’t have visitors and learned how fun and funny they are when you have to slow down and really listen to them. Maybe, you are like me and realize how important human contact is and how invaluable spending time with your friends is. Do see what happens when you look at “bad” things as lessons? You find the blessings in them. On the outset, this COVID-19 is certainly not a blessing, however, when you tear apart the layers of it you may find that the lessons it is teaching us may be the things we remember the most from it.

Stay safe. Connect with others. Be kind. Leave some TP for someone else… sorry I couldn’t resist.

Kari Swanson is a Master’s level clinician with 25 years of working in the mental health field. She is the founder of CORE–Choosing Openness Regarding Experiences which is a non-profit organization with the mission to provide mental health awareness and suicide prevention education to Warren County.

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