Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

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.


  1. I never could remember a six-item grocery list, so now that I’m worse, a minute ago I couldn’t remember how to edit my website. Then I got scared. Then I read your article. So thanks, I think you just helped me.

  2. At the risk of seeming foolish or ungracious, I have to say this summer has been one of the very best of my adult life, although 2009-10 would be in that running as well.
    Things are at least functional, if far from normal, and I spend nearly every weekend at my little patch of clothing optional heaven at a Midwest resort. I’ve grown much closer with my friends and life partners there.

    Most days, we spend nearly every waking moment outdoors – in the pool, chatting with neighbors, wherever the mood takes us. Nights are spent dancing (and lots else) with the three women I love more than anything in this world, dances and stargazing in the sand dunes. Sundays when most of the weekenders and craziness are gone, it’s just more pool time, floating and watching clouds.

    I make a point of having little to no screen time of any sort, and though I have a small TV and DVD player, I have not used them and for the most part rarely ever go into my camper except to sleep or retrieve something. As my depression has a heavy seasonal component, I find it critically important to maximize my sun time in the summer and to sort of build up a reserve of neurotransmitters.

    I find myself and most other people there are living more fully than in usual times. I think that has often been the case when we feel closer to our mortality. I certainly feel more grateful for the simple things than I would have even a year ago.

    Among all this there is of course the science and dark art of balancing risks. We use masks indoor, but outside mostly rely on distance, and with a few hundred acres, its not too hard to do.

    I don’t know if any this has any applicability or lessons for anyone else, but however you do whatever it is you do, try not to forget to live while surviving.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying life, Ken. It’s great that you’re able to–I’m finding it very difficult personally and I know many others are, too. I agree that we must make the effort to try.

  3. My life has improved because more people want to Skype/zoom etc, but I am still working too which definitely feels like a privilege. And we’ve been doing gardening at weekends. And have taken up kayaking.

    For list-making, try Trello 🙂

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