“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”

- Roy T. Bennett

The fatigue experienced by the pandemic, now over a year old, is wearing on people. You see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. People are tired of wearing masks, not seeing family members or friends, wondering how they will pay bills, buy groceries, take care of family members who are sick, and keep themselves well in the face of everything else they have to deal with.

The fatigue is real and the depression, anxiety, and suicides related to it have skyrocketed. Due to COVID-19, those with depression may now feel more isolation, anxiety about the future, and fear of going somewhere that is over and above what everyone else is feeling. There may be a delay in getting an appointment for treatment and if quarantine is necessary, it may only increase one’s sense of isolation and hopelessness about what is going to happen. Be aware of those in your family and circle of friends who already deal with depression. Check-in on them and make sure they are fine and don’t need anything.

In an article by Brian P. Dunleavy for UPI (United Press International), he stated that a new study found, “As many as one in three adults in the United States have experienced mental health problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The study also found that “Just under 12 percent indicated that they have contemplated suicide since the start of the pandemic.” Don’t be afraid to reach out for help locally or by calling The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Texas and Mississippi opened up 100 percent in mid-March. As more states open, we will still have many things to work through. Some people will feel it’s too early to open up; others will think it’s about time. It may be confusing following guidelines for different states if you plan to travel. It remains to be seen how this will unfold.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott, in his press release from March 12, loosened the restrictions for allowing households to gather as well as restaurant guidelines. He said, “Vermont has taken one of, if not the, most cautious approaches in the country to slow the spread of the virus and reduce deaths. I know this has caused a lot of frustration…But as we vaccinate more people, you can expect the spigot turns to be more frequent. I believe we’re going to be in a very good place by summer.” This certainly gives us hope. By the time you read this, even more restrictions may have been lifted. Follow updates at www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19.

People will have mixed reactions as we come out of this pandemic. Those who have family members who passed away without being by their bedsides will always feel that loss. Those who have businesses that will not reopen will always wonder if their dreams could have come true. Those who have gotten used to being at home may have anxiety about going out again. To me, these are all-natural reactions. Treat people with kindness as we may not know the full extent of their journey over the last year.

One night I couldn’t sleep and I got up around 2:30 a.m. I opened my laptop, signed into Facebook, and suddenly a message popped up. It read, “Are you as awake as I am?” It was from my high school friend, Cheri, who lives in Maine and with whom I reconnected in the last year. We messaged back and forth for quite a while about when we were getting our vaccines, how we didn’t go out very much, our families, St. Johnsbury, and what it was like when we were in high school. We are supposed to have a “milestone” class reunion in June but that may not happen. Cheri did not have to reach out in the middle of the night when she saw I was online, but she did. It was a simple act of kindness, but it meant a lot to me. Out there in the night was another woman who couldn’t turn her mind off from the problems in the world. Kindness is highly underrated. Sometimes what you do may seem insignificant to you, but may be lifesaving to someone else. Never underestimate the value of a phone call, message, note, cookies, or any other little things that can put a smile on someone’s face.

The vaccines are now available, and I am ready to get my shots so that I will be able to see some of the younger members of our family. I am thankful that we have local places to get the shots and don’t have to travel an hour or more. I can go one mile down the street. Some people are not planning on getting the vaccine and that is their choice. We must be understanding about their reasons even though we may not agree.

Hugs, fresh air, sunshine, and warmer temperatures. That’s what I am waiting for.

Life is a journey. Let us be happy for each day and find ways to help each other during these still-troubling times.