A stone cemetery monument featuring a relief sculpture of a mourning woman with long flowing hair, her head bent in sorrow as she leans over an urn. Photo taken by the blogger, at St. James Cemetery, Toronto, ON.
It’s been a while, I know. So much going on, collectively and personally. And, frankly, my thoughts and feelings have been leaning towards rage and despair so much lately—not at all conducive to expressing any clarity of thought.
So I will try to write here. Because I need to. And because I want to keep this blog alive—and to do that, I need to post.
The past couple of weeks have been rough—I’m sure for many of us. I’ve been living with anxiety and depression for most of my life, so living alone while navigating this pandemic has been a struggle. But the extra-strength fuckwittery exhibited by the Ontario PC government a couple of weeks ago broke me.
Thankfully, restrictions on playgrounds and enhanced police powers were quickly dialled back after huge public outcry (I’m surprised we didn’t break Twitter that day); and push-back from opposition parties, police forces, public health officials and the province’s own Science Table. But the thing that killed me the most—and I know I’m not alone here—is the government’s insistence that they acted “quickly” and were “listening” to the Science Table; when in fact, they’ve been consistently reactive, too little and too late, and not acting on Science Table or health expert advice. And it’s not lost on many of us that this third wave didn’t have to be this bad. That so much illness and death, and damage to our already fragile health care system, could have been avoided had Doug and friends heeded the warnings of modelling presented back in February—and acted on it immediately!
I thought of all the people who’ve been working so hard and sacrificing so much—especially our frontline health care and essential workers—and was enraged by the level of stupidity, negligence and gaslighting. A government turning the blame on everyone but itself for the dire situation we now find ourselves in. Hopelessness and despair hit hard; and for a couple of weeks, I had a moment, or three, pretty much every day of being on the verge of tears but unable to have a good cry.
During a recent phone chat, a friend highly recommended having a good ugly cry to let it all out. And we spoke of how we’re all going to be experiencing varying levels of PTSD with this pandemic. And I say this with full acknowledgement of my privilege: I have work and am able to work from home; I can pay my rent, in a safe home with food in the fridge; I have access to health care, including mental health; I have the means to connect with loved ones remotely; I became eligible for vaccination (by age) earlier this month and received my first shot a few weeks ago. I am grateful for my situation; and I also recognize my pain, isolation, loneliness, mental health struggles—and the need for self-care. And how I must stay healthy for myself, my loved ones and my health care system. I am fearful of how the prolonged periods of isolation will change me, a self-professed introverted homebody. I worry that I’m turning in on myself, and losing my sense of hope and enthusiasm for life. This New York Times piece by Adam Grant really nails the pervasive feeling of languishing right now.
It’s been inspiring to witness the individual and collective responses to a negligent, absent leadership—grassroots community groups sharing vaccine information and facilitating vaccination clinics; public health units exercising control over workplace outbreaks, and focusing vaccination efforts on hot spot neighbourhoods and workplaces; local politicians and municipalities, and organizations like Vaccine Hunters Canada posting vaccination eligibility and clinic info on Twitter; everyday people helping family, friends and neighbours with vaccine booking, and accessing groceries and essential goods and services.
There is so much good and so much to be hopeful for out there. And we need to continue to stay aware of what our leaders are doing—and hold them accountable for the policies and decisions that impact our province, especially its most vulnerable and its health care system. We need to seek out and share reputable health- and vaccine-related information as much as we can. And do whatever we can to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our health care system safe.
I don’t feel like crying so much these days. I’ve mentioned before that living through this pandemic is to experience the five stages of grief—and that it’s by no means a linear process. So I could very easily feel like crying again. But it’s comforting to remember that next year is a provincial election year.
City of Toronto COVID-19 and vaccination info: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/
Government of Ontario COVID-19 vaccination booking info: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/