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An open letter to all essential workers

Guest Author: Alyssa

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I see you. Because I am you. I am a Public Servant.

I know you’re scared but you’re brave anyways. The hero you are.

Never in life has ‘this is what I signed up for’ felt so surreal. Yet we do it anyways. Regardless of your occupation, perhaps listed in the above photo, a lot of you put yourselves in harms way daily. But we laugh it off, because we’re type A, because we’re “strong” right? Because when we signed our name on that dotted line when we swore an oath…. we meant it.

The hero you are.

Mostly, that meant we were putting our physical SAFETY and mental HEALTH in harm’s way. And, I don’t know. That felt okay. A commitment I was and am comfortable with because I feel as though I’ve been called to serve my community, my country at-large. Break up a fight? Sure. We’ll be back to business as usual soon enough. If not, we would go see a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor or Massage Therapist who would mend our broken bodies and then we’d be okay.

When the impact on our mental health increased, so to, did our coping strategies. More running, more weights, healthier diets, journaling, meditation, going to see a Counselor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist and we trusted those professionals to help us with our emotions – what worked for each of us was not a cookie cutter, we are all unique.

But COVID-19, brought forth new challenges. For the first time, our physical HEALTH is in jeopardy. Walking into work could [potentially] be like walking into a contaminated petri dish. Yet we do it anyways. And until we notice symptoms ourselves [hopefully not, but if], but until then, we will continue to report to work because our sectors CAN’T close. Because they are serving everyone else. Because they include populations that regardless of what is occurring in the world, still need us. And while some of this may be an overreaction of fear and anxiety, a lot of it is valid. The hardest part about all of this is the unknowns: we don’t know who or if anyone we come into contact with has it, because they may not know yet.

We don’t know if our bodies have the immunity to fight it if we do in fact contract it and we don’t know how long this will last. And all of the sanitizer in the world [if you can find any, that is], won’t alleviate those concerns.

I don’t like to be alone and now I have to be.

There are two big fears for me personally with this virus:

  1. The first, worst and most overwhelming to me is not that I will contract the virus, in fact this fear, I share with most of the world, or, at least with the extroverts: I don’t like to be alone and now I have to be. Social Distancing is encouraging limited interaction and cancelling all “unnecessary” interactions… which, I’ve recently learned are necessary for my well-being… but sigh, we’ll make it through…
  1. The second fear is one only shared with Essential Workers who even if they wanted to can’t stay locked in their homes, because it’s the profession we chose. Because we serve you.

There are essential workers who are working to keep things rolling behind the scenes (Farmers, Truck Drivers, Warehouse Workers, Water Treatment Workers, Hydro & Water Service Technicians, Internet Providers, Custodians, etc., the list continues). Some of these sectors can close and/or work from home and some cannot and still need to continue to be in public. Some face little exposure, some face a lot.

Then in the face of HIGH exposure and HIGH risk, I think of the Doctors and Nurses. What you do everyday and always is self-explanatory why you are at risk, but you do it because the ill people need you. Police Officers, Firefighters, Paramedics, Corrections Officers… you CAN’T close, because the public needs you… because we can’t have something like the Purge happen. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Purge_(2013_film)).

As I look around, my community is beginning to look like a ghost town but then I begin to notice all of these essential services that I wasn’t always aware of: the grocery cashiers – I can’t thank you enough. You are coming into contact with people daily because society needs food. And most times, you are not financially compensated very well either.

Last but not least, SOCIAL WORKERS. If not already [I’m not sure, are you?] Can we ALL just agree that YOU ARE an Essential Service? We’d be scrambling without you. Considering every single other self-care coping strategy has been ripped from beneath us. We need you. And yes, video/phone call can work but some of us extroverts need physical interaction, so those of you who continue to operate in the midst of this to serve us, I thank you.

To all of you who I mentioned (and the many others I probably missed), THANK YOU. I can appreciate the anxieties you may be feeling because as I mentioned, I AM YOU. I have those same fears. I will be walking into my own petri dish today and anything that happens is out of my control but all I have is faith at this point. I will pray that I remain safe, healthy and well. And I will workout as much as humanly possible despite my gym being closed so that I can maintain a healthy body and contribute to the bettering of my mind throughout all of this.

I am overwhelmed in gratitude.

To everyone else, who are self-isolating/distancing. Look around you and when you do come into contact with one of the above essential workers (or even if you don’t), find a way to just express gratitude and appreciation for everyone who is working throughout this and putting themselves in harms way [more than usual] to keep your world functioning. Maybe that means keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

And while trying to come from a non-biased approach despite being a Public Servant myself, I want to genuinely THANK YOU and appreciate each and every single person from the bottom of my heart for putting your health on the line right now for me. I am overwhelmed in gratitude.

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