Living in the Age of Covid-19: Coping

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These are normally my two places to rest, rejuvenate, start my day and end my day – my favorite chair in my reading room or my purple porch swing on the front porch. These are safe places. But life has changed in so many ways and I am feeling the impact. Research has found that people can only stay in a crisis mode for about 6 weeks before the seek a resolution, a way to cope. Sometimes we find adaptive ways to cope and other times it seems like the only options are maladaptive. We try to move back to our old ways of coping, but sometimes our world had changed so drastically that we can’t find our way back to what was.

I continue to try to identify and name how I am reacting to the pandemic, the Trump presidency, increased focus on racial injustices, and the impact of global warming. Mostly I have settled into exhaustion with brief breakthroughs of peace and joy when concentrating on sewing quilt tops and canning the wonderful fresh produce that Michigan summers provide. Frequently I have felt tears at the back of my eyes that leads me to believe that I am mourning our losses.

So many of us are in this boat – each having loss many things that are very dear. My greatest loss seems to be a sense of safety – I feel the threat of the corona virus, the extreme damages Trump has wrought on what our country stands for (even with all of our faults and blemishes), and the looming threat of global warming. And my heart aches for the hundreds of thousands of people who have loss loved ones or have loss their health due to the virus. And I feel rage that the pandemic and its consequences are a thousand times worse than they should be here in the U.S. because of the incompetence, denial of reality, and narcissism of our president. And then it makes me angry that I hate someone as much as I hate that man and all the people who support him. Lord, have mercy on me.

It helped to write the previous paragraph, a little, but I’ve expressed similar thought before. But there are other things I need to write, I want to express, but something gets in the way, blocks the path from soul to brain to fingers. Maybe they are thoughts that are either half baked or seem too inconsequential within the magnitude, the enormity of what we as a country and a world are experiencing. I want to put to words the minor frustrations that I am experiencing from the crisis we are experiencing.

This past week we went camping on Lake Huron, the Great Lake that is the border on the eastern side of the lower peninsula. I had been looking forward to this get-away with a couple who is similarly terrified of the virus. I wanted to run away from everything just for a little while. But it didn’t work because there was always that nagging fear in the back of my brain that maybe it was a mistake even though we encountered just a handful of other people. I found that I longed to be home piecing my quilt top and by Thursday I really wanted to just pack up and go home. As we were driving home today, Friday, I decided I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to turn around and go somewhere for another week. My take-away is that I can’t escape any of it, no matter where I go.

I am also irritated at how cautious I am whenever I leave my “clean” space. Every time I leave the house I am continually calculating how safe my movement is, who I am coming in contact with, and how to avoid being close to people – especially people who don’t have masks on. (And then I have to deal with my rage at people who refuse to wear a mask because it infringes on their personal freedom – damn them all to hell. Oh Lord, have mercy on me again.)

This same cautiousness happens when I bring things into the house. I can’t seem to separate rational caution from irrational. When we returned home I had to unpack a lot of the food from our camper before I could fix some supper. As I took things from the carrying boxes, I felt the impulse to disinfect them – and to wash my hands yet again. And I wonder if I’m being overly cautious, irrationally cautious. Sometimes I am and then sometimes I slip back into old ways and I fear that I let some virus in. Damn, it is exhausting.

Most of all I’m trying to make sense of my reaction to the pandemic (and my reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement that will have to wait until another post). The pandemic hasn’t affected my economics but it has my social relationships. The pandemic hasn’t impacted on my health but it has on my movement within my community. I haven’t lost a job but I have loss my sense of direction. I have loss my safety because I believe I have about a 40% chance of dying if I am infected. I don’t want my husband, family and friends to experience the pain of my death. I don’t want to lose my husband, and I don’t want all the people who love him to experience the pain of his death. I am afraid – but within my fear and grief are times of joy and happiness. I’ll share some of those next post.

26 thoughts on “Living in the Age of Covid-19: Coping

  1. It’s a difficult time, for sure, for all the
    reasons you mention. It’s hard to keep one’s head above the negative noise. I have to work at it too. “This to shall pass” is not working at all well right now with all the uncertainty.

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  2. You have articulated things well. I also feel your frustration and anger at the incompetence of our president and those who choose to support him. So far I’m coping okay with daily living. I live in a retirement community and feel very safe here. I see my sisters weekly which keeps me going and get together once in awhile with a small group of friends that I feel safe with. I believe that this is a temporary situation and things will get better if we can survive the fall and the election. Our country seems to be in a very dark place right now. I try not to think too far ahead and just stay in the moment.

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    • Yes, Jill, we are being social in about the same way. It is a hard balance to keep – of seeing the people we love and care about and keeping everyone safe.

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  3. Beautiful expression..
    We are going through a difficult time..
    The virus may not affect our body but has certainly occupied our minds ..governing every step we take…
    We got to free our mind from this encroachment…

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  4. Perhaps the pandemic has served our nation well…giving us time to reflect on those things we did not notice before…which made it easier for a demigod to alter our future…but as the old Yoruba proverb goes “Oku ajannaku li ayo ogbo si, ta li oje you oju agada si eran, alabo owo.” or “It is easy to cut to pieces a dead elephant; but no one dares attack a live one.” Perhaps our nation has been awakened and brought to life.

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    • I have been hoping the same thing. It seems like the severity of our threats has awaken a deeper understanding of what it take to keep a democracy working – and how fragile democracy can be. However, my anxiety will rise as election day nears.

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  5. It is nice to see your two safe places, one inside and the other outside and interesting to read that we can only maintain panic mode for six weeks. That makes sense. Many of us are desperately trying to find answers and you have articulated what many of us are going through.

    I have read a couple of things that give me some small comfort – that it seems objects people have touched are less likely to infect us than it appeared at first and that people who have had regular flu injections might be better placed to cope if they are infected. I have never had them, but my mother and my sweetheart have. Science can only tell us about the chances, of course, and we still have to take the precautions we find sensible.

    It irritates me that communication by both our governments has been so poor. We should have all the facts without any politics in a health crisis. Young people should be given clear examples of other young people who have been infected, and the long term consequences for their health, not be told ‘Don’t kill granny’ as a nearby town is proclaiming. Everyone should be told that wearing a mask likely protects them as well as protecting others. It is so hard not to rant.

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  6. I loved the part about not wanting to go home. That’s exactly what happened to us at the beach — and we called the realty company to inquire if there were any cancellations. There were, so we nabbed a condo for an extra week. We needed the rest. I’m like you — just frustrated with the pandemic, the quarantines, etc. Hopefully we won’t have too much longer to wait for a vaccine, but no guarantees, I suppose.

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    • It seems, Michele, that the suffering takes many, many forms. It impacts us in some obvious ways, but also in ways we have a hard time defining. Thanks for the virtual hug – I saw family yesterday and missed not being able to hug them and feel safe.

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    • Your welcome. I think it is important for me to articulate what I am experiencing so others don’t feel as alone, and I also am helped by reading the experiences of others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t written about our experience because I just have no words. We’re here in Georgia, in the land of the loonies who believe the virus is a hoax. A recent letter to the editor in our local paper was quite a rant about the end of the world, the Antichrist, and how the vaccine, when it becomes available, will be the Mark of the Beast. I get so angry and disturbed at all of this. And the rants about anyone who opposes Trump being a Socialist or Marxist or Communist. Makes me want to hide in a cave!

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  7. Beautifully expressed as I would expect from you. This is a very moving post about how you and others are experiencing things that are hitting us now. Climate crisis is another that raises my anxiety to levels where I feel incapable of acting. Thanks Pat.

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  8. You’ve expressed so many feelings that I, too, am feeling. I’m becoming comfortable in my own “clean” home, but I yearn to leave the premises and venture out. This whole quarantine has left me wondering what to do on many occasions, but I do find something each day. I also wonder if this is how our aging population feels and how they evolve into creatures of habit and lethargy. Thanks for sharing so openly.

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  9. I’m sure you’ve expressed the feelings many of us have, if not precisely, then certainly in a general sense. Fear and anxiety have become constant companions – but joy and creativity are still there. Writing is great therapy and I’m glad you did this. It’s honest and it says what others may just be too shy to say. Take care and enjoy those islands of joy!

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    • Thanks for the very encouraging comment. I am finding that I have to consciously search for the islands of joy because it is so easy for the black doom to overtake me.

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