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Around November of 2019, I’d heard about the COVID-19 virus from a science article that came across my news feed. I recalled in my AP Bio class in high school that pandemics were a real threat to the planet, and we read about them in a novel that I didn’t actually read. Expressed by my usually funny instructor, the reality of that danger became clear to me by his tone. A sickness could one day infect hundreds, thousands, or millions of people. It had been done before. Once I read about the deadly virus that was spreading across the other side of the planet, the anxiety started as a small seed that only grew the more prevalent the danger became.

My favorite podcast host noticed how a real pandemic was on its way to our side of the world. COVID-19 was now being discussed by one of my favorite content creators. The next thing I knew, articles about that scary virus were saying it had entered the United States. Real fear had sprouted from that small seed. Celebrities were talking about getting sick. People were wearing masks, but not many. A few friends and I talked about how real things were becoming and fast. I started wearing a mask to work. I work in a bakery, with food. My job sent us home with letters that allowed us to be outside of our houses after curfew. A CURFEW?!

The anxiety had risen to such an all time high. There wasn’t a moment of peace. I couldn’t think about anything other than these questions:

Did I sanitize my clothes when I got home?

Did I touch my face at work?

I’m an essential worker now, but could that change?

Am I worthy of making money when there are people losing their houses?

AM I GOING TO DIE?

This went on for months. In 2020, I lived with my sister. She was my best friend for so long. She moved her boyfriend in. We fought about money and the executive orders that were put into place because of the virus. My family was torn apart. Relationships were damaged. They haven’t healed since then. That doesn’t even touch on the election. Republican, Democrat, Liberal, does it matter? I just wanted the idiot out of office. I needed something to look forward to. My thoughts were so jumbled and panicked. The seed has sprouted into a full on plant at this point.

Missing holidays was tough too. I didn’t see my family for Thanksgiving. I live an hour away from both sets of parents. One set of parents does not speak to me anymore. Despite that, I felt better knowing a vaccine was in the works. People to this day don’t think a vaccine helps at all, but it’s bullshit. It’s significantly lowered risk and most people hospitalized are unvaccinated. It’s not a foreign concept to get vaccinated in order to stay healthy and lower risk of contraction (i.e. polio, hepatitis, flu, etc.). The plant had flowers budding and blooming into anxiety attacks that would not allow me to sleep.

My mental health suffered greatly from the COVID-10 pandemic. There were several anxiety attacks, mood swings became normal, insomnia kept me awake, and work kept pulling me out of the safety of my house. My family support dwindled which put more pressure on my live in boyfriend who was my rock throughout that year and even now. I was prescribed sleeping medication from my doctor and diagnosed with depression and mild anxiety. I take Lexapro now which has helped me so much. Therapy has helped me and I’m searching now to go back.

Despite the hardships I suffered through 2020, there are some wonderful things that came out of it too. I got a tattoo that I’ve been wanting for years. I went skydiving which has been a dream of mine. My boyfriend proposed to me and is now my fiancĂ©. I rescued a dog that is now so happy and unlike the abused victim she once was. I’m still healing, but there are definitely scars from the COVID-19 pandemic. Things will never be the same, and I don’t think they should. The world handled COVID-19 so poorly and we should be prepared for the next pandemic that will inevitably come.