Giving Thought: Returning to ‘normal’ may not be an easy ride
As more and more Americans receive the coronavirus vaccines, the darkness of the pandemic begins, little by little, to lift.
President Biden has told the nation that every American adult could conceivably be vaccinated by mid-May, and a corresponding rise in airline ticket sales seems to show that people are taking advantage of their newfound freedom. At this point, more than 21 percent of the populace has received at least one shot, and roughly one third of Americans 65 and older are fully vaccinated.
We should all welcome this good news and share in the sense of hope and relief. As we do, however, we should also recognize that there’s a lot of COVID-related fatigue and exhaustion out there. As we step out of “survival mode,” it is helpful to take a minute to recognize the tension and anxiety that just about everyone has been holding for the last year.
“What’s hard about the whole COVID thing is it’s like we’re running a marathon, but we don’t know where the finish line is,” said Jackie Skramstad, clinical operations manager at Mind Springs Health in Glenwood Springs. “There isn’t a right or wrong way to process this.
Some people are going to jump on a flight across the country, and other people are still going to feel like venturing out is a little scary. It’s all new again.”
Over the unpredictable course of the past year, Mind Springs professionals have provided a wide range of mental-health services to locals with a wide range of needs. They know that no two people are exactly alike, and that everyone responds differently to stressful situations such as a pandemic. And this will continue to play out as we all find our way back to “normal.”
“It’s going to be different for every single individual,” Skramstad said. “If everybody had different ways of coping with this, then we need to give each other some grace. It’s OK to move through this at a different pace than others.”
As we let go of the tension we’ve all carried with us through the ups and downs of the pandemic — the lockdowns, the ever-rising death toll, the public-policy arguments over masks and other restrictions — we should anticipate bumps in the road. There will be more disagreements to come about what constitutes safe behavior and what puts other people at risk. This is all to say we still have a long journey ahead of us.
“We’re all just tired and sometimes we get kind of cranky,” Skramstad said. “It’s OK, and the crankiness comes with the hope.”
As the Aspen to Parachute region continues to navigate its way out of the pandemic, there are resources available to help. Whether you need financial assistance with rent or utilities, food for your family, or counseling to help you recover from the turmoil of the past year, there stand ready numerous organizations to assist. A comprehensive list can be found at a2pcovid.org.
For information on Mind Springs’ mental health support line, their mental health care kit or the COVID-recovery program called Colorado Spirit, go to mindspringshealth.org.
Tamara Tormohlen is executive director of Aspen Community Foundation.
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