Before the Covid pandemic, I was working and attending school full time. Some days,
the only time I spent with my three-year-old son was during the drive home from daycare.
Mostly I would have to sacrifice sleep to spend time with my family and then work on papers
and study until early in the morning. External stressors were building, and being the central
support system for my family-both immediate and extended; I was beginning to feel
overwhelmed and burdened. I was exhausted-or, so I thought.
When Covid shut the island down, my position at work was on the list to cease work.
While admittedly worried about Covid, I was excited to spend time with my family. I loved the
idea of having all of this free time. I envisioned rejuvenating and reconnecting. I was grateful
for the change of pace and the days of play and cuddles, girl talk and gossip with my girls, and of
Reality slowly began to creep into perspective. I was worried about the well-being and
health of my family. My days became ritualized sanitizing, searching for Lysol wipes,
researching about this new virus, praying, and following the news as though my life depended on
it. Being a survivor of domestic violence, I began worrying about the families who would find it
hard to cope with the stress of isolation and the inevitable result of increased abuse. I worried
about the children who would not benefit from the school’s food programs and would spend their
days hungry. I was worried about my friends who immigrated here and were isolated alone,
worrying about their families back home. I was worried about the health and well-being of those
struggling with mental health, and I was worried about the economy.
Then came the stress of financial burden. Because my husband had to close his shop, we
were facing financial hardship. My work continued paying my wages, but my husband’s loss
resulted in my income being the only source for a while.
As the pandemic persisted, I began to worry about my oldest daughter, expecting her first
child in June. I was worried about my littles sisters resilience in her addiction recovery. I was
worried about my best friend’s mother, who was losing her battle with cancer in hospital-holding
on until her third daughter could get here from British Columbia. She made it home, just in time.
But because of transmission risk, my friend’s sister was not permitted to hold her hand, kiss her
goodbye, or hug her one last time. The woman I considered a second mom for a large part of my
youth had gone home the day after her daughter was able to see her. I still do not understand this
policy. Her mother was in end-of-life care, and they were worried about the transmission of
Covid. Covid and a nonsensical policy had robbed a young woman of the last loving embrace or
comfort her mother would be able to offer her. The days following were incredibly challenging. I
watched as the sister from away was secluded to an area in her mother’s back yard, with us
gathered around her, only able to offer support from afar. It felt cold. Immoral. Surreal.
In April, my daughter called me from the hospital. She was in active labour 2.5 months
early. PCH rushed her to QEH in an attempt to prolong or cease her labour. Fifty-three gruelling
hours later, my grandson was born. The only support I was able to offer was over the telephone. I
was not allowed to be there, to comfort her, to support her. Covid robbed me of being able to
experience my grandson’s birth, to be with my daughter at a time of great concern and fear. I was
not permitted to see her in person until her son was discharged from the hospital two months
later. I had never felt so dislocated, lost, and restricted in my entire life.
My sister, who was recovering from addictions, had found herself increasingly unable to
cope with stressors from seclusion, financial stress, and uncertainty. She had relapsed shortly
before Christmas. Her relapse had been almost fatal, so the Christmas holidays this year had
been consumed with advocating her health and addressing the discrimination she had faced in
healthcare. Her recent relapse brought a new health concern for probable congestive heart
failure, which we are currently battling to have addressed.
The trade-in for time with my family became less and less enticing. This new normal was
beginning to create an insurmountable amount of stress and worry for which I had begun to
struggle to cope. I found myself sick more often, struggling with chronic migraines, fatigue,
exhaustion, irritability, and debilitating panic attacks. I had no idea what to do. I had no
direction, no sense of security and was drowning from the pressures. The impacts of restrictions,
worry, and uncertainty had created darkness in my life.
For UPEI, the persisting pandemic created the implementation of the virtual class. I
found the time working on assignments and studying increased, I missed the relationships I had
made with like-minded people. I missed the in-person lectures, the environment, and the
experience. I felt I had even less time to meet deadlines without working. It was harder to stay
focused. I was continually being interrupted and found myself working longer into the morning,
sometimes omitting sleep entirely. I found myself beginning to feel incapable, defeated, and I
started questioning the rationality of my decision to go back to school. Did I make the right
decision? Am I going to pull this off?
Turning my struggles over to God, I would pray to saints and my grandparents. I prayed
the rosary almost every day. I would ask for guidance and strength. I decided to pull myself
together and reflect on my life and my struggles. I needed to look at my situation with a fresh
perspective. I stopped listening to every update on the news, I stopped following conspiracy
theories, and I decided to make the best of a situation we truly had no control over.
I developed a detailed schedule that allowed me to stay focused and stay on top of my
deadlines, which made me feel confident and capable. I searched for lessons to be had in my
experiences and sought positives hidden within.
My new perspective allowed me to see the power in connectedness, the importance of
relationships and social interaction. I realized the healing power of a touch, the importance of
forgiveness, and the need to let go. I saw the strength and resilience of my daughter. I realized
she would be ok, and she is capable of facing challenges without me. It made me realize the new
chapter in our relationship had begun. It was also empowering for her. She learned that she can
fly on her own and will be ok. I watched her grow into a woman and become a doting, caring,
loving, and proud mom.
I learned the importance of taking time. The importance of cherishing moments with my
loved ones. That it was ok to let my work wait and allow myself to be present in the moment. I
learned the importance of self-care, of needing to take a step back and reevaluate stressful
situations. I had seen the change in society. I have seen an evolution in ways of thinking. More
and more people are questioning what they seen and read. Society has become more critical and
less apt to trust blindly. Time is being taken to independently research claims and try to
understand diverse perspectives. I have seen my community come together and unite in times of
The lessons I have learned in my sister’s situation are remembering to reach out and pay
attention to non-verbal, behavioural changes, and gut feelings. To prevent what my sister thought
to be a burden, she claimed she was fine, but in truth, was fighting her demons alone. The
positives to take from her experience is her newfound determination to stay in recovery,
especially knowing her subsequent relapse will potentially take her life. I witness her change in
thought process, her participation in meetings, and her thirst for knowledge about addictions. She
has finally agreed to trauma counselling. I see her eagerness to deal with her PTSD and
childhood traumas, bringing hope and promise of better days ahead.
The pandemic has impacted my life, but lessons, positives, and Grace lay hidden amongst
the loss, negatives, and stress. We have to find them and allow ourselves to grow. We have to
realize our strengths and trust in our potential to overcome. We have to find the light in this
darkness and try to help others find theirs.