After 2020 Shock

From Ottawa, ON

Thu Jul 15 2021

Anna Myatt

It’s April 13, 2021, and I’m on the golf course. My first game of the season is about to begin and I'm so excited!

Spring arrived early and golf courses just opened a couple days ago. The start of golf is always a signal to winter to bid us goodbye. Luckily, it was a mild one this year. And spring is even more welcome in view of the challenges we've had to endure since the pandemic arrived over one year ago in March of 2020.

Golfing is what kept me sane last year. Moreover, the warm autumn weather allowed me to play until middle of November. That was indeed a blessing.

On the gold course, we continue to be careful, all wearing our masks and physically distancing. Well, it’s my turn now, time to concentrate on my game. As I head over to the tee, I can’t help but feel hopeful that we will get back to normal soon; plus grateful for being healthy and able to enjoy the outdoors. The things we took for granted a year ago are now a gift. These feelings of gratitude overwhelm me and bring tears to my eyes. Quickly, I turn my head so my golfing buddies don't witness the emotional state I'm in. Mind you, I'm sure they're feeling the same way: both emotional and thankful.

What a great day! Enjoyed golfing so much I almost forgot about Covid. But listening to the car radio while driving home after the game brought more pandemic news: case numbers are too high and keep rising. Younger people are being hospitalized, ICU admissions are increasing. We're not dealing with the virus of a year ago and risk of transmission is higher due to variants. More supply is needed for vaccines to have a real impact.

And then the bad news came: the situation is serious and requires further restrictions in order to bend the curve. New measures are imposed, including a stay-at-home order and the closing of golf courses.

Oh no! I could not believe my ears. What a shock! Golf was the one good thing, the one thing I've been looking forward to, the one thing that would keep me going. I pulled into my driveway but couldn't get out of the car, just stayed put listening to the news trying to come to terms with the situation. Was this really happening?

That night I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. I barely slept, bad dreams stalked me. Finally drifting off, I was back at the start of the pandemic last year, driving home after seeing Cats at the NAC. The wind was howling and bringing in a storm, all the streets were freezing fast. The pavement became icy and suddenly I was losing control of my car, swerving and heading for a head on collision as blinding headlights aimed right at me. Just as I was about to crash, I woke up with a start all covered in sweat, my heart racing. It was only a dream but so very real, my subconscious was demonstrating what could have happened that night. The current situation had brought it all back and I was reliving that frightening experience.

For the next few days I could not handle the sadness. Just when things were looking up, everything had come tumbling down. I just lay in bed staring at the ceiling, there was no reason to get up. We could not travel and now we can't even play golf...

Having suffered from anxiety in the past, I began to feel that a panic attack was imminent. I had to avoid it. I could not let those attacks return. I did not want to go through that again. Somehow, I had to deal with it. This despair had to stop.

I realized that I needed to silence my inner sad voice. Breathing exercises calm me down. Meditation also works for me. Thus I managed to pull myself together before things cascaded out of control.

Then, to lift my mood, I decided to go hiking. A dose of nature is always the best medicine. Being outdoors on the trails helped me think and put things in perspective. The news was painting an even grimmer picture...with the urgency of the situation, how could I be so upset about missing a weekly golf game? How could I have almost lost it because of such a small matter? The insignificance of my problem compared to reality was becoming obvious. What was going on with me?

But in these trying times, little things can upset you more and make it difficult to remain rational. As people try to cope with the stress of the pandemic, depression may result. We are becoming more vulnerable because of the lack of social activities. We miss the precious time with family members and the interaction with friends. We miss the closeness with our loved ones that lightened our mood. We are sad about the time lost, the contact lost and the missed opportunities to be together. So when the unexpected occurs, we take it very hard.

As I pondered this thoroughly, I began to understand. It was time to move to the next chapter by no longer feeling sorry for myself. I needed to focus on being more positive. I needed some more patience…

It was a turning point. I was coming to grips with the current situation. I told myself, “let me get through this and then regular activities like golf will resume.”

Over the next weeks I gradually improved. The profound sadness left and subsequently I was on the road to feeling more like myself. I pretty much accepted the disappointment and instead began to look forward to getting back to normal.

We can all take solace in knowing that at some point, the pandemic will end. Then we will again be able to enjoy one another's company like never before. Here's to better days ahead.

Take good care everyone, please stay safe.

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