The Mighty Logo

My COVID-19 Point of View: What Life Is Like in Toronto, Canada

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

What’s happening in Toronto, Canada: Hello! My name is Erica and I live in Toronto. I’m 26 years old and I identify as a female. I live with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder. Since being in therapy for over half a decade, I finally feel as though I have the appropriate tools to help me manage my body dysmorphia and stress. I was a Project and Marketing Manager before COVID-19 and I’m also a certified gemmologist working on my first jewelry collection! My current hobbies include baking (so many loaves of banana bread!), writing (trying to write a novel!) and going on early morning walks. As it turns out, having the time to literally stop and smell the roses is quite a beautiful thing! 

Last month, Ontario started preparing to enter into “phase 3” of reopening. As of today, Toronto has 15,668 confirmed cases, 14,230 recovered cases and 1,164 deaths. Ontario stands at 41,048 confirmed cases, 110,000 recovered cases and 2,793 deaths. This is compared to the 124,000 confirmed cases in Canada, 71,802 recovered cases and 9,051 deaths. As with the previous phase, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and other parts of Southern Ontario will remain in phase 2. 

My observations about masks: It’s troubling to me how few people wear masks. As of July 7, it became mandatory for all patrons entering stores/restaurants/markets to wear masks. However, I still see many people walk into stores not wearing masks, disposable or otherwise. I find that this attitude is worse in the downtown core. It feel as though Toronto is under the impression that just because stores and restaurants are opening back up that the pandemic is over or that the virus is not as deadly as it was four months ago. This is not the case! It’s this attitude, which has been the case with many individuals from the very beginning, that has caused the continuous spread of COVID-19 and the reason why it has taken so long to flatten the curve. 

My experience out of the house: In addition to no masks, people are definitely not distancing enough: inside grocery stores, at parks, on the sidewalks. It was crowded when quarantine was in effect, but now that we are entering phases 2 and 3, it’s getting even worse. While storefronts have tape outside, indicating 2 meters, and even with additional measures such as provided hand sanitizers and limiting the number of people in a store, I haven’t seen anyone enforcing it in the store. 

Grocery store shelves have been much better stocked lately. In March, when people were hoarding goods, grocery shopping gave me intense anxiety because I would never know how much food would be available. I would be scared that I would once again be greeted by empty shelves, lack of produce and a general sense of doom. Now, though prices have gone up compared to pre-COVID (I find that some goods are still ~20% more expensive), I think grocery stores have adapted their supply chains and are restocking much more readily… and people have stopped hoarding items! 

In March, grocery chains such as Loblaws, Metro, No Frills and Longos would regularly have empty shelves. The only place where I would be able to get any produce (or even pasta and meats) would be Eataly, though at the much-higher (but expected) price. 

My health: At the beginning, I found that my anxiety was unmanageable and that my obsession with food had skyrocketed (probably because trips to the grocery store meant slim pickings and no choice in what I had to eat). I lost my job at the beginning of COVID, so the idea of needing to shop at overpriced Eataly or order delivery/takeout for meals was unsustainable and was a constant source of stress. I was having regular mental breakdowns. 

Fast forward a few months, I have created a routine for myself. With food no longer being a scarcity (which I’d never thought I would have to deal with on this scale), I am able to focus more on my food preparing, adding in exercises and having regular FaceTime calls with friends to stay in touch. While I notice that my depressive episodes occur more frequently than before COVID, my body dysmorphia is finally coming back into control and I am more or less in control of my disordered eating. 

The one major change for me is the change in therapy. My therapist’s availability has greatly been diminished and my sessions have been online rather than in person (for obvious reasons). While it was an adjustment, my therapist has done a great job in assuring me that her home office is sound proof, that she has her regular white-noise machine (to ensure that no one outside of her room can hear us), and that her session notes are just as confidential and that our sessions are not recorded. 

My quality of life: At the beginning, I was scared. For the health of myself and my loved ones. I was worried about not having access to foods or have enough food. Living alone, I felt extremely touch starved and felt an extreme pressure to be “productive” during this time. 

My unique COVID-19 moment: One day, when I was sick and tired of my routine, feeling burnt out, I decided to move everything around in my living room and build myself a blanket fort. I’d never done one before, not even as a kid, and it was hard to do alone — but it was fun! I took all the pillow and lined them against the wall, brought soft blankets, and got all my supplies: Cheetos, hot coffee, water, Oreos, berries, laptop, sketch pad and markers. The making of a great afternoon! (Though between you and me, the fort was up for a few days.)

Unfortunately, there are no photos, because I was too busy being in the moment, which is something that I’m glad I did — or rather, didn’t do! I spend so much time taking photos and making it insta-worthy, showing my friends “look what Fun Thing I did today!” that I forget that it’s OK to have moments that aren’t catalogued and shared online. My very own Secret Moment. Something I did for no one but myself. 

My hopes for the future: I hope that the people in my area start taking COVID more seriously. That means wearing masks. Even if you’re running. I hope people stop hurling racist insults at me, calling it a China virus, telling me to “go back home” (hi folks, I live down the street). I hope that people start caring about others and do so by not touching every piece of produce at the grocery store, or start using gloves. Or at the minimum, use the provided hand sanitizer. 

I hope that we can continue to be compassionate with each other and ourselves — recognize that this is a period of extreme stress and that we are not obligated to be productive all the time and that it’s OK to have fun, to relax, to have time alone. 

Local resources: 

Originally published: August 20, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home