How to cope with pandemic letdown in face of delta variant

It’s not over until it’s over. The whole world is still dealing with a COVID-19. It is OK to be disappointed and sad.

I am suffering from pandemic letdown.

Like millions of Americans, I was hoping that we were coming to the end of this curse. Infection rates were as low as they’ve ever been, a big swath of Washingtonians were vaccinated and the state reached phase four of its reopening plan,

The doors opened. Stores posted signs that the vaccinated were free to roam maskless. My large stock of face coverings could go into storage, or even better, into the garbage! I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We made plans to visit my daughter and her family in New York. We haven’t seen her and our grandchildren for almost two years. Our heart was aching to see our newest grandson who was born last October. I planned to go hiking with my brother and cousin on the East Coast. Our other daughter, who lived in California, had just moved back to Washington with her family. We were in seventh heaven.

But sadly, in the last month, the infection rate has surged as the relatively large number of unvaccinated have become infected with the more contagious delta variant that blew across India, like a typhoon, leveling everything in its path. And, to my disdain, we have seen vaccinated adults and teens test positive for COVID-19. It, as the kids like to say, sucks.

The good news is that the hospitalization and morbidity rate has not gone up substantially because of the significant proportion of individuals who have been vaccinated. And importantly, vaccinated folks, by in large, haven’t been getting seriously ill. So we know the vaccine works to prevent serious disease.

But I still don’t want to get any case of COVID — mild, moderate or severe. And I don’t want any of my friends, neighbors or relatives to get sick.

So, I went down to the garage, rummaged through storage, and brought out my mask supply. My wife and I are postponing our trip to the East Coast until infection rates go down.

I’m disappointed and sad.

So how can we cope with pandemic letdown?

Remember, it’s not over until it’s over. Sigh. Our world is coping with a new virus that we haven’t seen before. It’s unreasonable to expect that our scientists will have a crystal ball and see into the future. We have to expect that our public health specialists are constantly analyzing new data and making recommendations based on what they learn. We couldn’t predict a more contagious variant of the original virus. We need to expect changes and new guidance.

Acknowledge your disappointment. I felt down for a couple of days and especially sad about delaying a visit to my family. Accept your feelings, let them be and allow them to become something else.

Be prepared to pivot. It’s hard to go back to a more constrained life. We let hope, like a bird with feathers, fly into the open sky. It’s helpful to remember that life is change. It’s useful to be ready to go in new direction, for better or for worse. Stay abreast of new information as it comes to light.

Get vaccinated. I know for some of us, it’s a hard sell for many reasons. But vaccination is a demonstrated ticket to avoid ending up in the hospital or getting someone else sick. In the long run, vaccination will be one way we bring the pandemic to its knees.

Paul Schoenfeld is a clinical psychologist at The Everett Clinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/health-wellness-library.html.

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