Monthly Archives: August 2020

Blue Blues

I’m finding the normal ebbs and flos of emotion harder to steer these days. In the olden days six months ago, if I hit a down mood, there were a lot more options for cheering up – meet a friend for lunch, volunteer in the community garden, see a movie, go to a book club meeting, or even that most trivial of remedies, shopping.

Now I’m pretty isolated, like everyone else, and it’s harder to keep perspective. This is the vicious spiral I need to interrupt: Feel a little blue for some reason, or no reason. Feel ashamed of that, because I have nothing to complain about. Decide I shouldn’t contact anyone until I’m cheerful again, because I might bring them down or they might think I’m weak and whiny. Become more isolated. Start stupidly comparing myself to friends who love Zoom get togethers and meet someone different every day for socially distanced socializing. Become even more isolated. You see the problem?

I’m writing this in case I’m not the only one who sometimes struggles these days. With any luck we’re halfway through this. It’s been 6 months and there might be a vaccine in another 6 months, right? Meanwhile, it’s only natural to get frustrated or sad sometimes.

Pandemic Blues Part Three – It’s Just a Time Out

Not to be all looking on the bright side or anything, but this isn’t forever. The world will heal, the virus will subside, and hopefully we’ll be here to see it.

In the meantime, it’s a time out. A pause, a break, a reset. Again, that’s only because I’m incredibly privileged to be able to stay home. For now I need to stay home, stay at least 8 feet from people, get exercise, and sit on the porch. Since I’m closer to 70 than 60, I shouldn’t travel, eat out, march for racial justice, shop in stores, visit people, or hug my friends (which is sad). Next year I’ll resume deciding whether we should move to the west coast, socializing, feeling guilty if I’m not volunteering somewhere, driving to book club meetings even if it looks like snow, and planning trips. For now, it’s all on hold.

Pandemic Blues, What to Do, Part Two

If you’re experiencing True Depression, where you can’t sleep at night, can’t stay awake during the day, and it all seems hopeless, please get help from whatever source helps you – online therapy, religion, talking with a friend, reading words of wisdom, singing, medication, meditation, I don’t know. My observations are not equipped for solving profound depression.

On the other hand, if it’s just the Pandemic Blues, maybe these thoughts will help.

1. Remember, Fear Sells. A headline that reads “Most people get over COVID-19 quickly, with little trouble,” or “Looks like Trump might lose, but who knows?” doesn’t sell nearly as well as “These outliers had horrible lingering symptoms and You Might Too,” or “The 19 signs of impending fascism and how Trump has done 18 already.” Journalism is a competitive business and Fear Sells. So, for your own mental health, stop reading that stuff.

2. Social Media is Poison these days. You’re not the only one with anxieties and concerns. Unfortunately too many people cope by sharing an unending stream of fear, outrage, scorn, fury, scolding others, mockery, and general crapola. That also includes words of wisdom about finding joy in a perfect loaf of bread or little garden, if one is not in the mood for what can seem pious and smug. Not everything has to be bunnies in a basket. On the other hand, what really is the benefit to you of scrolling through You’re a Racist Even if You Don’t Mean to Be, Trump will Kill us All, World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket, and Hilarious Mean Photo Du Jour?

More Later. Time for a break.

Pandemic Blues, What to Do, Part One.

So many people have lost their jobs, their loved ones, homes, health, that it seems wrong to sometimes get down when you haven’t suffered those losses. And yet people do get blue these days. I have no medical, logistic, or financial advice, but here are a few ideas for fighting off anxiety and sadness.

First, maybe don’t fight it. Maybe give yourself permission to be sad for a few minutes and trust yourself that you will not sink into a pit of despair. Maybe try to understand what is bothering you – is it fear of getting sick, isolation, too much media, a personal conflict, something else? Usually I bounce back after a few minutes and you might too.

Pandemic Sense of Time

We had a LOT of fun plans for this year, all of which were obviously canceled. Until March 2020 my sense of time was intermediate – what was set to happen in a few weeks, next month, later in the year. If a trip was supposed to start on Saturday, then it was in the back of my mind all week – what to pack, printing tickets or washing the car, finding a cat sitter, checking the weather, etc.

That’s changed for now. Instead, my sense of time is split between the very immediate present and the distant indefinite future “next year sometime when there’s a vaccine.” The intermediate future of 2 weeks or a month away looks like more of the present. Since the present is actually okay, that’s good.

Pandemic Cheer

I’m one of the lucky people who can stay home, pick up groceries curbside, and walk in a shady neighborhood. My husband and I are in good health, we have cats to pet, a TV to watch at night, and more yarn than I could knit in 10 years. So, I have nothing to complain about. That hasn’t prevented me from cycling through a series of emotional challenges. I’ve decided to write stuff down on the off 1 in a million chance that it helps someone else.

The crux of the matter is that the coronavirus kills some people and makes others very sick, especially folks in my lofty age bracket. That is the first thing I had to face. Everyone over 8 years old knows that we all die eventually, but in my mind – well, that’s the thing, it wasn’t in my mind. It was a vague easy-to-ignore thing that would happen after I turned 100, maybe. So, that was the first hard thing about the pandemic, having to consider that I might not live forever. But I’m alive now, which brings up the next thing – time.