A Love Letter to “Them” During COVID-19

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve posted in the “Coping With a Diagnosis” section of IBSTakesGuts.

But as every single one of you knows, a lot has happened to all of us since February 2020 – so it’s time for IBSTakesGuts to officially address the bully in the room who just won’t go away:

COVID-19.

Before I get started, I need to share something important with you. If you are anti-vaccine, a COVID non-believer, a COVID conspiracy theorist, or something else of the sort, please note that this is not your platform. Not today, not on IBSTakesGuts. You have two choices: you can listen or you can leave. It really is that simple. I always try to be a respecter of persons, and I ask that you do the same. IBSTakesGuts is (and always will be) a space to encourage and support others who are going through difficult times, and that does not change just because you want to cause mischief.

Today, I’m speaking to my 25,000 visitors from 60+ countries who have come to IBSTakesGuts at some point in your lives for assistance, solace, understanding, and compassion. I’m speaking to the subset of people who COVID-19 has probably hit in a unique way – “those” people, who prior to COVID-19, were probably simply known as weird eaters or the ones who had lots of doctors’ appointments or whatever, but who weren’t really noticed. The ones who may already feel like society’s oddballs, and who have been thrown to the forefront of COVID-19 willy-nilly as “the ones with underlying medical conditions that put them at a higher risk.”

Man. We were just going about our lives when this thing came upon us, am I right? Trying to figure things out as we went. Possibly already struggling. Maybe just coming out of the struggle and feeling OK again. Definitely not needing another thing to worry about in a list of medical concerns.

But, as we know, life throws many a curveball, and this time it threw us – the entire world – COVID-19.

First, I just want you to know I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through during the past nineteen months (at least it’s been nineteen here – probably somewhere in that ballpark, depending on where you are reading this today). This COVID ordeal has been quite the rollercoaster for everyone, and I know you are no exception.

You may have dealt with the loneliness and frustration of literal months stuck in your home (something everyone SAYS they have done, but we know many have not).

Or maybe you’ve felt left behind in various ways – by your family, friends, coworkers, society in general – because (yet again) you’ve been placed at higher risk.

Maybe you’ve listened to people say the most awful things about you (maybe indirectly – but still about you): taunting you for not just “getting out there and living your life” because you are supposedly “living in fear.” Acting as if higher-risk individuals are society’s throwaways simply for having underlying medical conditions (after all – “survival of the fittest” right?!). Guilting and reprimanding you for not participating in certain things the way they want you to in that moment. COVID-19 has brought out some deeply-rooted ugly in a lot of people, and if you are in a position even similar to mine medically, you’ve likely been the target of many of these hurtful situations during this time.

Maybe you’ve let go of loved ones because of how badly they have treated you (or, again, “people like you” – because they don’t even realize how much they are hurting the people around them by saying and doing the things they are saying and doing).

Maybe you’ve lost loved ones in other ways. Maybe COVID-19 took them from you.

Maybe you’ve been hit with COVID yourself and been damaged because of it.

Maybe you’ve felt the hope of an end in sight when vaccines became available, and an even deeper hope when you received yours.

Maybe you’ve gotten to hug your people for the first time in a year, and maybe you cried tears of joy when it finally happened. Maybe you still can’t do that.

Maybe you’ve experienced the almost euphoric experience of actually getting to do things again, just for it to be ripped away a few weeks later when the Delta variant arrived.

Maybe you’ve regained hope, albeit dampened by the crushed hope of the first time, because the booster is now available.

Maybe you’ve had panic attacks, heightened anxiety issues, depression, anger management problems, a PTSD diagnosis/reemergence, or any number of other psychological affects that are rampant right now because of COVID’s impact.

Maybe you’ve experienced other terrible things due to this crazy disease.

Again, I say I’m sorry for the struggles you’ve faced – no matter what they have been. We’ve all had different experiences since March 2020, but we’ve all been through it in one way or another. If no one else has told you, I’m telling you now: I see you and I feel for you, my friend.

The other thing I want you to know is that you are valuable. You are strong. You are not a burden. You are not lesser than anyone else. You are fighters. You are loved. You have been through terrible things, but you are still here – still standing.

And I’m so proud of you for it. I’m proud of me, too.

That’s it. Really.

Hugs and blessings from my heart to yours. We’ve made it this far, and we’ll keep moving forward, my friends. Here’s to hope for better days to come.

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