I get up in the morning. I go by my routine. I take my meds, start brewing my coffee and whiten my teeth before staining them with the aforementioned coffee. My hair is too wild to brush (it has caused me to break enough hairbrushes to the point that I could open my own cemetery), so I just tie it back as best as I can.
Because who is going to REALLY see me today, right?
I prepare my coffee with my coconut creamer, still in routine. I make sure that I am wearing a somewhat presentable top, still choosing to give traditional brassieres the one-fingered salute. I decide whether to do my makeup or let Zoom’s “smoothing” feature just sort me out for the day. I generally choose the latter.
Because who is going to see me today?
Time for class. I have to say, the professors that I have been blessed with this semester have not only been absolutely understanding and extremely helpful but have also definitely been some of my favorite encounters during this trying time. I love talking to my family and friends, but it is becoming draining for me. It is probably becoming draining for them too. At least with class we have a common goal and just enjoy the time that we are taking along the way. I mean, I literally did slides on the Tiger King phenomenon in my BUS 101 class. We are keeping it fun, but educational.
At least I get to see my friends and classmates and professors three times a week.
In the downstairs apartment, I hear the rambunctious toddler racing around with peals of laughter. He has no clue what is going on, and, in a sort of way, I am jealous of him. It is also times like these that I really, really, really appreciate being single and child-less. God bless you that do it, children are great, but I think I might truly lose my mind if I had to figure out how to take care of another being besides myself. I say this with incredulity, but I believe that parents are bona fide superheroes. Especially now.
This is still all part of my routine that I have created in the last 6 weeks. Routine is the only thing that is keeping me going. With the sudden halt of the world and its activities, with the increased risk and stress of doing my day-to-day errands like picking up groceries, getting gas, walking the dogs… I am slowly beginning to lose my mind.
I am going crazy because I know I will not see anyone today.
I see it when I have emotional outbursts on FaceTime with my family, or when I snap at my roommate. I see it when I notice that I’ve gone more than a day without eating a real meal, with maybe a snack or two. I see it when I have to fight the urge to walk to the gas station at the end of the street, buy a pack of menthols, go home and just chain-smoke them while listening to some sort of indie music. I chose a good time to quit. Classic, right? I am pretty sure that I am subsisting solely off coffee and stress at this point.
I can see my mental health deteriorate with every day. Before, I used to at least try to go outside on hikes with my roommate and my dogs; then, I fell in a hole and got not only my first ankle sprain ever, but by the doctor’s words, “the worst sprain I’ve seen in at least two years.”
Well, at least I can still reach new personal bests even though I can’t hit the gym. That’s been mad rough, too. That was definitely one of my favorite natural anti-depressants. You might be thinking, “why doesn’t she just work out at home?”, but I am going to go ahead and stop that train in its tracks. I literally do not hold myself accountable and have a hard time with body-weight exercises. So, out the window go my summer body goals.
But I don’t feel like that matters, because I might not be seeing anyone for a long, long… long time.
There are a lot of silent problems that have only been exacerbated by the quarantine. Domestic violence is on the rise. Mental health has been taking a nosedive (hello, am I the one you’re looking for?). People are cowering in their houses, afraid, as they should be.
Look at Italy. Look at New York. People are dying these horrible deaths, and they are dying alone. People should be afraid. It’s hard for everyone, EVERYONE. I understand that some situations are worse than others, but right now, it isn’t a competition for those doing the worst. The ones doing the worst are the ones laying in a hospital bed, talking to their family while in agony, probably for the last time. The ones doing the worst are the ones who can’t say goodbye to their mom, or their brother. The ones doing the worst are the ones who are afraid at home, either for themselves or for their loved ones because they know that if they contract COVID-19, they will not survive. The fear and potential guilt behind that must be absolutely crushing.
I didn’t take it seriously, but every morning I wake up with a dry cough I feel a slap of terror across my face… until I remember that I slept with the window open and the fan on again. I can’t imagine what people who are at a constant high-risk are feeling.
It is okay that I won’t see anyone today. Or tomorrow. I probably won’t see anyone new besides my family and my roommate for at least another month. I want people to stop feeling afraid, and the sooner we can get this beast under reigns, the better.
I want to sign off this piece with some good thoughts, however. It is all we can do to remain hopeful, and sometimes I wake up in the morning and look at my whale clock and I tell myself… I WILL BE HOPEFUL TODAY. And so I am.
You aren’t alone, your mental health is important, and remember to drink water. Remember to love yourself and give yourself room. While maybe yesterday, today, or tomorrow might not feel like your absolute BEST, it is the best you can give at that time. Understand that and realize your humanity is what you should put your energy into if you can.
You don’t need to pick up a hobby or finish a side project. You don’t need to suddenly become a supermom or dad. You don’t need to be perfect, and you don’t have to feel like you need to be physically productive at this time. Some of you can be (I won’t lie, I have totally reorganized my house and created donation buckets. Plural.), and some of you need to be productive on your brain. I swing between both- I will clean… and then I will lay and read comics for 4+ hours. You are still doing work, even if you don’t feel like it.
If you can, try to reach out to friends and family. Maybe do some self-care. And remember, we are human.
We can do this. Together.