While 2020 was a year of serious challenges, tragedies, and divisions, there were some bright spots. In this blog series, the IWF team looks back at the year’s highlights, silver linings, and redeeming themes as we countdown the days to 2021.

I was in the mudroom of my house, recently detangled from my children, when I realized I didn’t have socks on. Oh well, I would just wear shoes with no socks to my therapy appointment. I was running late, and I couldn’t risk showing my face again in front of my 4- and 2-year-olds. In the year of COVID, they had grown quite attached to me. Moms everywhere understand.

My husband works as a hospitalist. Lately, he’s done nothing but treat COVID patients. A couple days ago, a man in his 50s died from a pulmonary embolism related to COVID. My husband’s colleague did 30 minutes of CPR, but they just couldn’t save him. Rough day at work, huh?

I have no doubt my husband and his coworkers have faced high levels of stress and fatigue this year. I’m so thankful to them for all they’ve done, heroically, to save lives from COVID (and other illnesses, accidents and maladies—or pregnancies!—that haven’t simply stopped this year). 

Due to my husband’s line of work, and for the sake of our marriage, when I started feeling overwhelmed by my own stress and anxieties this year, I felt it would be better to talk to someone besides him about it. I didn’t want to add to his burden. Thankfully, our family has the resources to pay for counseling. And thankfully, I didn’t let my own bad attitudes stop me from getting some help with my mental health.

Typically, I think I kinda have it together. I mean, not totally… after all, I’m a mom with young children so I do things like buy 100 stamps for our Christmas cards and misplace them (yep—just did that, and can’t really blame COVID for this one, either!) 

But this year I so did not have it together. And I’m sure I’m not alone. We were all constantly confronted with bad news about the pandemic, changes to our way of life, moral dilemmas about how to interact with other people.… It was a lot to process, and despite our efforts to be #InThisTogether, the reality of social distancing is that it’s actually quite socially isolating. 

One bad attitude I had about therapy was that it was only for people who were like… really mentally ill. Wrong. Therapy can be for anyone. The truth is that I had told some girlfriends in my Bible study for about two years that I wanted to see a therapist to talk through some things. It took COVID to really make me act, though. 

I also kinda wanted a perfect counseling situation: I wanted someone that I clicked with right away, a Christian, someone with a lot of life experience, someone who would meet with me in person, near my house, on my schedule (which is hard to accommodate due to child care). But when I dragged and dragged my feet, a girlfriend told me not to make perfect the enemy of good. So I got a good therapist. She’s a little bit of a drive, and I can’t stay totally consistent with my appointments (or manage to always wear socks). But at least I’m there. 

I’m there. I’m here. And that’s more than a lot of people can say at the end of this crazy year. As I discussed on Fox Business, more people in Japan died by suicide in the month of October than total COVID deaths for the country for the entire length of the pandemic. 

Health care was a challenging world this year, taking care of bodies ravaged by a new infectious disease. I appreciate those who do this amazing work and the risks they took and the sacrifices they made this year. I’m so proud of my husband and his work as a hospitalist—can you tell? 

And I’m also thankful for people, like my therapist, who have dedicated their lives to helping others care for their minds. Their work was so important this year. 

If you feel like you’ve struggled to maintain a mentally, emotionally, or spiritually healthy life this year, you are not alone. I encourage you to reach out to someone close to you and tell them how you feel. I encourage you to be open to seeking professional help with your mental health, too. If you think you can’t afford it, check out these helpful tips here

If you feel like you are completely hopeless and you feel like giving up, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is available 24/7 for anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. 

2020 was a hard year. Many people lost their lives, or a loved one. 

But after all, “redemption” can mean “saving.” And those who worked to save lives deserve our gratitude and celebration as we look back on the great ways Americans overcame this year.