The Reality Settles In
I ‘m hearing it all over: the days are blending into one another. Every week is the same. My memory sucks. I feel anxious all the time. I’m depressed.
I’m feeling it, too. Even though I still get to go to work every week (and yes, that feels like a privilege), I feel cooped up and like nothing ever happens except work. Work itself is incredibly stressful: the food bank has doubled throughput of food since March and everyone there is stretched just short of the point of breaking.
The “adventure” phase of the pandemic has passed. No longer is this a project of pulling together and overcoming adversity. Now we see people for who they are, when they refuse to wear masks and ignore public health orders. And it very often isn’t pretty.
And then there is national leadership–both in the US and in many other places. What a mess.
This, as I have so often said, is a marathon, not a sprint. The disease, impact worsened by the incompetent federal management in the United States, is going to be with us for a long while. And many of our pastimes and pleasures are simply not going to be possible if we want to stay safer.
Anxiety and depression are natural responses to the omnipresence of the virus and the hypervigilance it requires to stay safer. It’s oppressive and stressful to have the threat of a serious disease dangling over you all the time.
This has real implications not only for our moods, but for how our brains function. Stress hormones are absolute murder on memory formation, so rather than being fearful or angry at yourself about what your sudden forgetfulness means, understand that it’s a temporary phenomenon and make accommodations. Personally, I can’t get ANYTHING done without a written list, on paper. Right now I can’t hold my tasks in my head, even to the degree of a 6-item shopping list.
I guess that what I want to say here, folks, is that it is normal and natural to have these symptoms under these conditions. Don’t worsen them by expecting yourself not to experience them and giving yourself a hard time.
If you can, try to get out into nature. It really helps. Even just a weekend camp out can work wonders.
In the meantime, hold on. I know it’s hard and frustrating and boring and you feel helpless. We all do. But we’ll get through this, as people have always survived pandemics.
Most of them, anyway.
My heart goes out to you. I know how hard it is to manage right now. It may feel like you’re sinking, but you’re not.
We’re going to get through this.
It’s going to be okay.