Four things I’ve learned During COVID-19

A short page from the notebook of an "essential worker"

Wes Sanderson, Staff Writer

It has now been nearly 30 days since Illinois enacted its stay-at-home order due to COVID-19. I never expected to be living through a pandemic, but then again who would think of living this way?

These last 30 days have taken a toll on me. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I can say this is the worst situation I could be in. My mental health has had more ups and downs than the Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America. I’ve had days where getting out of bed was a chore because the constant lack of contact with other people made me feel like I was stranded on my own island.

Working has helped ease some of that uneasiness, but that doesn’t mean I’m cured. This situation will always be a battle for us all. Through this whole thing, I’ve come up with a few simple phrases that really matter. Some are said from those at a podium and some are more heartfelt.

Number one, all of us staying home at all costs is the only way life will ever get back to normal sooner. I get that you’re going crazy in your house, so is everybody else, but your choice to go to the store for $15 purchase or to the drive thru for that mid-day snack is not going to help end these orders anytime soon. I work at a bank as a front-line “essential employee.” I have been at work now for the last 2 weeks helping customers and I can say that there is no need for you to come out to deposit your $12 rebate check.

If you really feel the need to use essential services, consider using other alternative means for those services. Instead of going out to the bank make a deposit, use your banks mobile app. Most banks offer some form of mobile check depository. If you have cash, use an ATM that has a depository feature. It is not the fact we don’t want to see your faces; it’s just we want to keep everyone safe and return to normalcy as well.

If you need to get groceries, consider having them delivered to your home or set-up for curbside pick-up. Most retailers are offering these options free of charge to help reduce crowding and exposure in store locations. The less people come into contact with other people the fast we will all return to our normal lives.

Number two, understand social distancing does not have to mean full blown isolation. I know from my own mental health issues it can feel like this but know there are ways to stay connected. Facetime, Skype and Zoom have all become great ways to see your friends faces. If you want to watch movies with friends or your significant other; have a Netflix party! Netflix party is a free website and app that allows you to sync your stream with others and watch movies together. Lastly if you still feel alone, don’t be afraid to reach out. Your friends will answer; your family will answer. Society is not as cruel as it seems at time.

Number three, be kind. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for this to be said, but now more than ever be kind to others. Be grateful to your bank tellers, grocery clerks, fast food workers and all other essential personnel. The face of this crisis is our first responders and we should forever be grateful for those who day after day get into the thick of this to keep the masses safe, but we cannot forget those who go out every day to keep the country functioning as well.

Those of us who go out each day understand we are at risk of contracting this virus, please help us stay sane and healthy by being patient, understanding and kind during this time. We are here for you and will help you to the best of our abilities. Don’t be afraid to show thanks to those who are working. You have no idea how much a simple “thank-you for being here” can go to making our days. If you order take-out or delivery, don’t be afraid to tip to show your thanks. I’ve seen people cry out of joy because someone was generous and helped out those working during these uncertain times.

Lastly, this pandemic has shown that life can sometimes be cut way to short. Simply put here. Don’t wait to say somethings. Call your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles and just check-up on them. Tell those you’re close to you love them. Don’t take the time you have with those older people for granted.

Thirty days in and while it may seem like there is no light at the end of this, there is. Reports keep showing the Illinois looks to be reaching it’s peak. Like the experts say though, just because we look to be peaking does not mean now is the time to go back to normal life. If anything, now is the time to really buckle down. Watch those numbers drop and when we’ve started to reach the bottom, then we begin to head back to normal.

I’m not an expert. I will never claim to be. I am someone who works the front-lines and opens an essential business three days a week to provide a needed service, but sometimes it doesn’t take an expert to give advice to some.