Discovering a ‘lens of hope’: Readers share coronavirus stories

A retired nurse doing her best to serve the community and care for her father. An older woman who needs hydroxychloroquine for arthritis. An older man commending his community for fighting the pandemic by following social distancing protocols. A woman finding hope in these times by learning from her troubled past. These are some of the stories we've collected from everyday readers who have shared their coronavirus experiences on our hotline. Listen to their stories, below.

In Austin, Texas, on April 6, 2020.

Unexpected consequences

Coping with the times

Finding hope while learning from my past

Like so many, I grieve for the loss of physical contact with others as we live in our balloons labeled “social distance.” In the past, I also felt isolated. I survived an accidental hiking fall of 30 feet as a teenager in 1984, to wake from a coma to a world so confusing to my injured brain. I fought to remove the smothering blanket of depression for more than 30 years. In 2015, depression drove me to place myself in the path of a metro train. I am so thankful I survived. Even though the front portion of both my feet had to be amputated after my attempt to end my life, I’ve discovered my lens of hope, choosing life each day.

Over the past five years, I had electroconvulsive therapy sessions and still take antidepressant medications. Through my therapist, my church and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), I learned strategies I'm sharing so that they may guide others to find hope. My therapist asked me what activities I enjoyed as a child. When she learned I spent much of my life around children’s books, I went through training to learn to teach adults to read. I met twice a week with an Egyptian woman, reading children’s books with her, which she then read with her grandchildren. Now I read with children online.

I learned how to keep a gratitude journal. I learned to listen for the birds singing and enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays through the window at the assisted living facility where I lived.

During the summer of 2018, my psychiatrist told me the depression that had haunted my life for the past 35 years was in full remission. Also, during that summer, my psychiatrist gave me approval to ride the metro again. My therapist also encouraged me to resume swimming when she learned I was on swim teams in high school and college.

I do not know when we will be able to return to swimming pools, in-person church services or any public gatherings. However, my lens of continual hope tells me that we will, enjoying every moment even more.

Shannon Parkin, Silver Spring, Md.

Want to add your voice to the conversation? Share your stories and your perspectives on our hotline at 540-739-2928.


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