Hello everybody I’m Tricia Costales the Chief Executive Officer of The Guidance Center. When I last spoke directly to you about the COVID-19 pandemic, we were newly under the Safer at Home orders and reeling quite a bit with anxiety about what might happen. I don’t think any of us, at that time, imagined we’d still be here a year later, and after so many tragically lost lives. Yet here I am, a full year later, still talking to you from a folding table in my bedroom –my sons learning remotely across the hall.
I want to talk to you today about what this year anniversary might mean from an emotional or mental health perspective.
Using myself as an example. the anniversary of Safer at Home has been hard. It really started after the winter break. It was so lovely to be off Zoom for two weeks, I assumed I would come back to work refreshed but, for me, the opposite happened. It was dreadful returning to a remote life feeling that, “oh yes, we’re still here.” And, now here we are in March, a full year of living remotely later, and the drudgery has truly set in. I feel a bit like I’m slogging through mud. I miss my staff, our clients, my friends. The realization of all we’ve lost this past year is starting to sink in. Now, it seems there might be a light at the end of the COVID tunnel.
My point here is that it’s normal to have an adverse emotional reaction to the anniversary of this ordeal. I encourage you to talk to each other about what you’re experiencing and to understand these feelings as normal reactions to a truly abnormal time. This anniversary is not celebratory except for the pride we should feel for having endured it. There does seem to be an end in distant sight. Our COVID infection numbers are going down, and more and more people have been vaccinated. I was thrilled to get my two Moderna shots and eagerly wait for when I can get them for my teen sons.
I can’t wait until I get to hug my friends again. I miss them so much. At the same time, I’m worried about the emotional and psychological impacts we’re going to find as we start to re-engage in the public world. There’s been so many terrible losses and traumas over this past year. Loved ones have died, weddings and graduations and proms have been missed, sporting events cancelled, birthday celebrations and simple dinner parties haven’t happened. I anticipate the transition to normalcy will be rocky.
So, this is my message to all of you: We got through the year of Safer at Home and we can get through the transition out of it as well. If we do it together.
To Guidance Center clients, we’re still here for you. I know it’s been difficult to stay engaged in your therapy remotely. I know you still miss your therapist as you are missing your teachers and your friends. I’m so unbelievably inspired by the strength and determination you’ve shown to stay in treatment and strive to find hope. That same strength will serve you as we move forward and The Guidance Center’s Therapists will continue to be here for you.
To Guidance Center staff, I can’t even begin to express how proud of and thankful for all of you I am today. We weathered this crisis together. You remained there for each other and were steadfast in your commitment to serve our clients and our community despite the hardships I know you each were facing. I encourage you all to give yourself space to acknowledge the experience of reaching the anniversary of this ordeal and to own the losses we all have felt. Take care of yourselves and each other so we can still stand tall for our mission to serve.
To Guidance Center supporters and friends, we would not have weathered this crisis without the great support you showed to our clients and organization. When we reached out for basic support for families who lost jobs and were struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, you were there for us. When we reached out because our families needed computers and play therapy supplies to engage in treatment in school remotely, you were there for us. I can never fully express my gratitude for the support you gave us at a time when the whole world was reeling. I thank you.
I do believe this next year is going to be hard. Perhaps differently hard than the past one has been, but still hard. I hope that at the anniversary of 2022, our message can be a lighter one. Until then, let’s find strength in each other and in The Guidance Center community. As always, we will be here to support each other and to serve those who need our help. Hope for the future lies in one another.
Thank you and please stay safe.
Patricia Costales, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer