Reflections on 2020; COVID, The Vaccine, and Mental Health

As the new year draws ever closer, I can’t help but ponder the year that was. Which to be truthful, is something I do every year. But somehow, this one feels different. I know it’s common to hope for the next year to be an improvement on the last, but given 2020 gave us COVID-19 and all the drastic government decisions that came with it, I think many of us are hoping a little harder than usual.

I’m no exception. I am usually a happy and positive person, who focuses on keeping myself active and busy, to avoid becoming strained by the stress and worries of life. I seek joy in my everyday life, through writing, walking, exercising, speaking to family and friends, gaming, reading, and make a real effort to keep my mood elevated in a healthy way. I’m resilient in the face of setbacks, doing whatever I need to do to keep going, to find that sense of calm once more and persevere.

But 2020 has seen me dramatically falter in my usual healthy routine. Being locked down for nine months, banned from seeing friends and family, and that depth of isolation I felt, played havoc with my mental health. And I am a very strong, mentally healthy person with a psychology degree and a slew of positive strategies to get myself back on track. So, how do those who aren’t armed with such an arsenal have any chance at coping when even I found myself slipping?

COVID-19 sucks. But what our government chose to do in response made a bad situation worse. They used inflated statistics to get their draconian “solutions” over the line and the result was a year that was horrendous, and that many people did not survive for reasons that had nothing to do with the virus. And I fear 2021 will be no better…

A vaccine has been created and rumours are swirling that the government will be giving employers the power to force their employees to get it, or they will be stood down from their job until they do so. To make it clear, I am NOT an anti-vaccer. I believe in the value of science in helping keep us healthy, and all the current and historical data proves the effectiveness of herd immunity.

But I am not keen on getting jabbed with something that has been rushed into circulation purely to appease a panicked public who are terrified based on lies and misleading information. Vaccines are NOT supposed to be created and distributed this fast. They take years of research, testing, quality control, before being rolled out to the public. This COVID-19 shot, is either a miracle of modern science, or a rushed, grant nabbing scheme. Will I lose my job if I decline to get the vaccine until it has been through more testing? Time will tell.

Overall, despite some lingering doubts and worries I have, I am hopeful for 2021. But that hope comes with a determination to keep working on myself every single day. To keep choosing joy. To be positive. And to enjoy the benefits of being resilient. Because we are all going to need resilience for the year ahead.

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