Don’t let PTSD keep you from getting your shot. Today I needed lots of emotional support to prepare for my first COVID-19 vaccine. I worked all day fighting off my fears and anxieties. I scolded myself for having irrational thoughts. I spent hours reading the latest research about vaccine safety. I felt ashamed about feeling more fearful than grateful. Yet, I know that fighting my inner demons with logic can only take me so far.
What truly helps me overcome the fear is the love and support from family and friends. Just hours before my appointment, I called the 211 helpline number to get reassurance that yes, as a pastor of a congregation, I did qualify to get my vaccine today. Part of me was looking for a way out, for her to say, no, you don’t qualify. This was me running away from my shot. Yet, her kindness and her encouragement helped me make the drive to the vaccine location.
Once I was there at the medical center, cheerful greeters welcomed me, screening me, and then an upbeat woman checked me in. Next, a gentle and sweet pharmacy student assisted me by seating me next to her.
We began talking. She asked what I do and I told her I am a pastor and author. I told her I get lightheaded and faint sometimes. She smiled behind her mask and said she would take care of me. She wanted to know all about my new book, Blessed Union, about marriage and mental illness. After listening, she then quickly administered the shot and I didn’t feel anything. She shared that she was recently engaged but had to call off the engagement because something didn’t feel right.
She asked if my book was for Christians and I shared that I am a Christian minister, and wrote from my perspective, but that it’s based on traditional wedding vows and sacred covenants. She said she was a Muslim and smiled.
I encouraged her to trust her woman’s instinct. I told her I was so glad to meet her and wished her well on her journey. She wished me well in my journey and then helped escort me to the waiting area where we are viewed for any immediate adverse side effects and schedule our second vaccine appointment.
In all my worry, I never thought about how wonderful it would feel to be surrounded by so many truly caring, altruistic people devoted to the wellbeing of humanity and supporting the common good.
This is what I know: Mental illness traps us inside ourselves sometimes, making us feel isolated and alone. I’m so glad this vaccine is bringing us out of our isolation and reminding us that we are meant to be together, no matter our race or religion or political views.
I offer my love to any of you experiencing anxiety and fear about getting the vaccine. I see you. Now you see me, too. We are in this together.