How Pandemic Fatigue Is Showing Up in My Life
As we approach year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am tired. I’m sure we all are. This pandemic fatigue, combined with the January blues, makes it a difficult time of year for many, and leaves the world feeling heavy and dark.
While there is no immediate fix, being aware of the impact of pandemic fatigue is important because it can negatively affect our mental health and lead to reduced compliance with public health measures.
As a chronically ill patient, that scares me.
I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid catching respiratory viruses since my diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2016. But despite my efforts, I’ve fallen ill many times, and each time, I lose precious lung function that can’t be regained.
Not complying with public health measures can contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which increases my chances of contracting it. While the omicron variant seems to result in milder symptoms than other variants, it’s not worth the risk to those of us with IPF or other respiratory conditions.
Last month, I wrote that I’m worried about getting my fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in January, but ultimately, I will trust in science. Although four doses in less than a year feels overwhelming, I know that getting vaccinated helps us collectively fight this virus.
I’m doing my part, but I’m still in the thick of pandemic fatigue. So, I want to share how it shows up in my daily life in the hope that others will relate and feel less alone.
I am easily irritated by people who spew misinformation on social media, so I’ve begun blocking people. While I firmly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, adjusting my social media settings to avoid seeing upsetting messages is an easy and nonconfrontational way for me to protect my mental health.
Anxiety and control
Anxiety is common for many patients with chronic illnesses such as IPF. When the world feels out of control, I crave more control over certain aspects of my life. For instance, I’m limiting my screen time, both professional and personal, which I’ve never done before.
I’m also controlling who enters and leaves my house. Before the pandemic, my door was open to anyone who wanted to visit.
Fatigue and sadness
IPF patients may experience many types of fatigue, but lately, my physical fatigue has been debilitating. I wonder if this is my body’s way of protecting my mind, which is always racing with pandemic-related worries.
I want to sleep a lot, and some people have worried that I’m experiencing depression. I don’t think that’s it, but I do feel a sense of deep sadness at the state of the world right now, like a little, gray rain cloud is following me around.
Additionally, it upsets me to see that many of my favorite doctors and nurses are burned out. Their pandemic fatigue goes far beyond mine, as they are on the frontlines. I think about all the regular medical emergencies that haven’t stopped happening during the pandemic — strokes, car accidents, heart attacks, cancer — and I worry that beds will become scarce as the omicron variant continues to spread.
I also worry that more variants will continue to develop, as there’s no global vaccination strategy, and many countries don’t have access to vaccines.
Despite pandemic fatigue, I hope we can all keep our guard up and continue to comply with public health measures. Compliance helps high-risk patients like me stay safe. It’s so important to think of the fight against COVID-19 as a collective effort.
How is pandemic fatigue showing up in your life? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.