Is this really happening? I keep having to double check. I find myself constantly second guessing myself – and second guessing what’s going on out there.
It’s spring. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and while I was having my morning coffee on the back deck by the fire pit… everything felt so normal. For a long moment I totally forgot we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and a global crisis.
Then it struck me, that hit of anxiety out of nowhere that must happen something like 17 times a day, that everything is NOT OKAY out there.
I check myself: I’m okay.
Everything is okay, I’m fine, I’m safe, I’m okay in this moment right here and now ~ and I relax again, then get back to my usual (new) routine.
It’s like living in a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Meanwhile, everything appears and even feels perfectly normal. But it’s most definitely not…
I’m somewhere between still being in total shock, and a place of peaceful acceptance.
With a million little feelings in between.
It’s all so unsettling, and even more so… because there’s no end in sight, just a lot of unknowns, and a deep sense of unease that I cannot shake.
Whatever you’re feeling, it’s totally okay.
Are you anxious, angry, disappointed, worried, fine, annoyed, sad, concerned, lonesome, crowded, frustrated, scared, calm, out of sorts, safe, stir crazy?
Do you feel cheated, punished, tricked, guilty, confused? Do you have trouble sleeping, feel like sleeping all the time, have endless energy and zero focus to put that energy to good use?
Is your certainty and trust dwindling and your reality & friendships crumbling so fast you don’t know what to expect or believe anymore?
Some of these feelings might seem grossly misplaced, yet you feel them anyway, which just evokes even more feelings you can’t shake…
It’s enough to make your head spin and keep you in a constant state of unrest, with brief breaks of feeling just fine and forgetting that the sky is falling…
Followed by another bout of disturbing emotions you can’t sort through logically because they’re all thick and entangled.
Maybe you just feel a little uneasy. Maybe you haven’t yet defined all the nuances and layers of that nagging little feeling that’s slightly unsettling, and you brush it off and keep going about your day.
If that’s the case, I sorta envy you. 😉
I have regrets. I’m struggling with guilt. I’ve felt angry too. I have hard hits of deep anxiety, and a lot of very calm and easy days.
I regret procrastinating on that dentist appointment. That was kinda important.
I feel guilty when I feel good or happy or when I’m having a good day. 🙁
I feel relieved that my schedule is totally cleared, and guilty for feeling that relief, and even more guilty when I think of the people working triple time in high-stress situations while I’m safely working from home.
I depend on them. They depend on me (us) too – to stay home, to make their job easier. Somehow it doesn’t seem like that’s doing enough, but I know I’m doing what I should for the greater good (staying home). Which I’m actually very content to do – I love being at home.
Then I find my mind wandering to all of the “non essential people” and how that must feel: to be labeled as and told you are non essential, and another wave of deep sadness for others (+ guilt) sets in.
Almost 8 Weeks of Self Isolation…
I originally chose to self-isolate for the recommended 14-day quarantine period because I had been in A LOT of high risk areas while taking care of my parents: hospitals, doctors offices, ICU, a medical center with a pediatric & walk-in clinic, around home health workers, etc.
I was fine with staying home, and welcomed the break actually (being honest) – and sort of halfway nervously waited out the initial incubation period. This was VERY early on (the first week of March) before there was much concern about Covid19 here, but it felt like the socially responsible thing to do given my potential exposure.
I felt some weird combination of relief (happy to be home) and anxiety about what might come, and relief/guilt for stepping out of my caretaker role – but that’s a complex story. 😛
I took the pandemic seriously, and for a good reason. I found out firsthand how contagious “a flu” could be in everyday life situations, and also how “a simple flu” can cause long term health complications. Something I am STILL dealing with over a year after catching a flu on a trip in February 2019.
No one else seemed to be taking it seriously at all, which truly perplexed me… and made me even more concerned about ANY hope for containment.
How much longer will it be before I feel safe going out? What will happen next? What can I expect for the rest of spring – and what about summer and fall?
Questions I don’t have answers to.
I put off so many things “until Spring” that I think I literally spent the entire last half of fall and all of winter saying, “come Spring, I will.”
I was busy…
Busy with what? Looking back, I can’t even recall. Obviously nothing nearly as important as it seemed at the time…
I miss my usual Spring life: my waterfall hikes, feeling my bare toes in the cold river, exploring the trails and admiring the fresh new blooms that promise amazing summer adventures are right around the corner.
No, I haven’t been hiking. The trails & waterfalls and State Parks were all flooded with people once they were sent home. I don’t blame them – they needed to get out!
But that was the last place to go if you wanted to “avoid crowds” – and then Tennessee shut down all the state parks & natural areas for safety (from crowds).
On a positive note, staying home for so long has me falling in love with my home all over again!
I’m happily working on some home improvements in my downtime ~ painting, organizing, rearranging, updating, tending plants, home decor… and loving it!
Mostly I can order anything I need online, but I did need to go out and do a curbside pickup at a hardware store week before last. The man who brought my order out (some painting supplies) got WAY too close for my comfort…
That would have been the case without a highly contagious virus spreading through the community. I’ve always been a fan of social distancing. 😛
I almost felt like he did it just to rattle me. It worked. Or rather, it pissed me off – which was not a good feeling, and didn’t make for an enjoyable outing. 🙁
For now I’m sticking to what I can delivered only, including groceries dropped at my front door – which is worth the extra cost and generous tip to me.
Because no, I do not feel safe OR enjoy going out right now.
I miss sitting by waterfalls on beautiful spring days, yes – but they’ll wait for me. They’ll be there when I’m ready to venture back out and when the trails open back up again.
In the meantime, Slim (my great dane) and I are exploring our own yard… in great detail together. ☘️🐾🐾
That’s actually been very fun – for both of us. 🙂
How has this changed you, affected you, your lifestyle, your family?
I have been working online and from home for just over 23 years, so besides my usual frequent travel and weekly hiking adventures… my daily life has not changed that much.
Except now I have to cook and/or eat at home for every meal. 😉
That’s been kind of fun though! I’m getting creative in the kitchen. 👩🍳🍳
I know for many other people (most, I imagine) there have been dramatic changes, and a lot to shuffle and accommodate and get used to.
I would love to hear YOUR story, and your situation…
Have you discovered or realized anything interesting about yourself during this time?
What things have you changed, what new things have you started, or what are you doing differently than you were before this coronavirus pandemic took over?
I’m learning to effectively deal with stress and emotions – and especially misplaced feelings and that eerie sense of unease.
I’m experimenting with a combination of Grace + Tough Love on myself, because I definitely need to focus on self care through all of this… but I also need to continue living my life and moving forward in all the ways I can.
Oddly, I’ve become MORE social through this exercise in social distancing. I feel like I see people in a whole new way.
Conversations matter more, and touch me more deeply.
I’ve always kept to myself in this small town, but now… when my groceries are delivered, I find myself having a friendly chat with lots of smiles through my glass door with the lady on the other side so kindly dropping off my order.
A feeling of disconnect has been lifted. I’ve always kinda lived in my own bubble, tuning out the noise of the world and of life outside whatever’s in front of me.
Now… I feel this deep loving connection to all of humanity coursing through me, in a pensive sort of way, some weird sense of sorrow and love and hope that connects us all. 💞
What ripple effect will this have on you as a person?
Have you thought about that yet?
I think about it a lot…
It’s going to be awhile before things go back to normal… or we create some new sense of normal.
What will that look like?
Will you want to go to concerts and sporting events again? Will you feel comfortable boarding flights and traveling? Do you think you’ll go back to shaking hands and hugging? Will you attend big events – or feel comfortable eating in bustling restaurants full of strangers again at some point?
I feel “people phobic” now. Like everyone and everything is poison. It makes simple things like shopping or a fun easy walk to the river… anxiety inducing.
I don’t mind staying home, I’m rather enjoying that part (for now) but given my few experiences “out” lately – my mind & body don’t like to think beyond this space (yet).
I’m curious mostly, how this might change me… and feel a tinge of sadness when I think about it. Mostly when I think about the things I’ll miss, or may never want to do again – things that were such a big part of my life before.
What do you think you’ll do differently going forward?
With the struggle between a global pandemic and highly contagious virus, and economies crashing around the world, tough decisions are being made – and they’re being made fast.
I realize this is a very polarizing topic, and one everyone feels strongly about, depending on their specific circumstances and viewpoints.
I also realize the need to find SOME solution – one that hopefully lessens the burden and loss, instead of amplifies it.
I feel hopeful that there ARE ways to make that happen.
Even still, what’s done is done, and the last 4-6 weeks will have a deep ripple effect on our economy, on our supply chain, and on us as people – for a good year or two to come, at best.
If the stay home order / lockdown is lifted in YOUR area, how comfortable are you with going back to the way things were before this pandemic began?
Are you anxious to go back to work?
Are you feeling anxious or uncertain about the risks of returning to work?
Will you be first in line to get a haircut, hit the gym, go enjoy brunch with friends? Or will you hang back a bit and see how things unfold first?
There is no right or wrong answer.
There are positives and negatives both ways, and they’re tough to weigh out. Especially when we have such limited (!!) information and data to go on.
I just wanted to open the discussion, hear your story, and give us a space to talk things out together.
Your comments here can be totally anonymous if you just want to leave a comment with your first name only, or your initials. Your email address won’t show – it’s only used to notify you of replies as this discussion unfolds.
As for me, I’m planning to stay in for awhile longer and feel things about for a bit.
I feel very fortunate to have that as an option, given I was already working from home. That’s not the case for everyone (insert another hit of displaced guilt here)… *sigh*
Here in Tennessee they are starting to re-open the state parks and natural areas, which means I can get out hiking again if I choose.
I’m not sure yet if I will choose to do that anytime soon, or wait awhile.
When I do go… it will definitely be during the quietest days and quietest hours, where I’m least likely to run into large crowds of other hikers & outdoor enthusiasts (you know: PEOPLE).
Another tinge of sadness just hit me.
While I’ve always stayed away from the trails on weekends and instead picked quiet weekday mornings for good hikes & “outdoor therapy” … I used to love running into the random fellow hiker and exchanging smiles as we passed on narrow trails.
It’s some beautiful mix of ME TIME and social time.
I often come across couples or families trying their best to take a selfie and also capture the landscape or waterfall in the background. I always stop and offer to take the photo FOR them, which is friendly and fun and appreciated. 🙂
I can’t see myself getting close enough to do that again anytime soon, walking forward and reaching for the phone they’re handing me with a smile of thanks – considering that phone may just be carrying a killer virus that transfers from their hand to mine. 🦠😳
I have a peaceful acceptance about it, laced with a trace of sadness and longing.
When I think about the PURE JOY that I felt at concerts, shoulder to sweaty shoulder with my fellow fans all singing along to our favorite band, and that overwhelming sense of belonging even in a dark room full of strangers… my heart sinks, wondering if I will ever (EVER) experience beautiful feelings like that again. Or if I will ever want to, or ever feel comfortable in big crowds or close quarters with others again?
Surely so, someday…
What about you?
For now… whatever you’re feeling, it’s totally OKAY. This is new and scary and unsettling and everyone is figuring out how to deal with it.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 💝
We’re all in this together.
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