I’ve felt firsthand the negative effects of the pandemic.
I am 49, from Oshawa, Ontario and work as a sales representative at PepsiCo Foods Canada. Although much of my role focuses on managing the business, I spend a lot of my time in stores working with the public.
Working the front lines during a pandemic creates a roller coaster of emotions. Every day there is a new procedure to follow.
As a kid I played a lot of sports and mental toughness was the world I knew. Growing up in world where everyone wants you to be tough, I began to experience anxiety as a teenager.
During university I worked at a grocery store. Often we were understaffed, leading me to be thrown into roles I wasn’t trained in. A buzzer would go off and I would get a constricting feeling in my stomach and my teeth would chatter. I didn’t understand these feelings but looking back I was triggered by the thought of going into work.
I began to experience anxiety again and found it difficult to leave my bed.
I never thought I would make it to 18.
For as long as I can remember, mental illness has been a big part of my life. At 15 I recognized something was wrong with me. Just getting out of bed and going to school was a difficult task.
I met a pediatrician who told me I was working too much and that everything was fine. A few months passed and my struggles became unmanageable. I began to self-harm and shut people out.