One year into the two-week lockdown, how are we doing?
Many people seem to be getting a bit testy, irritable, argumentative, like we’re all in a constant state of fight or flight.
Part of it is the monotony. On a call with my sister the other day, she said, “Every day is like ‘Groundhog Day,’” referring to the movie.
At 6:15, I wake up, go to the bathroom, slip on my robe and go downstairs to the kitchen. I push the button to start the coffee, bump up the heat, feed the cat, let out the dog and turn on the lamp by my favorite chair.
By 8 a.m., I’m in my office, checking emails, my calendar and the status of my projects. Then a day of work and Zoom meetings.
At 4:30 p.m., I stop work and usually go outside. I take a walk down the road or tromp around my property. Sometimes, I have to run errands.
Even the weekends offer little variety. The restrictions are everywhere, and as an older adult I’ve restricted myself from certain situations.
Old, old, old.
Part of our irritability is the fear-mongering by news corporations. We are all affected by it, but it really gets to certain personality types. The same information that makes one person skeptical makes another person cautious and yet another person paranoid.
(Unlike in New Zealand, where the prime minister determined early on not to use fear language in reference to COVID.)
Mostly, however, I think it’s the layers of stress. The threat of getting COVID is stressful enough.
Then we all have to reckon with the government and personal restrictions on a daily basis, affecting our family life, social life, work life, community. This all affects our mental health.
Then there are the politics of the pandemic, how each party is using it to one-up the other, taking advantage of it for political gain. All the petty squabbling and finger-pointing.
Do we trust the government? Do we trust the news corporations? Do we trust the same pharmaceutical companies that brought us the opioid epidemic?
And what of our responsibilities to each other? That’s a stress too: What is my responsibility to help people who have lost their jobs, people who are alone, people trying to work at home while teaching their children? What is my responsibility to local businesses trying to survive?
Then there is the ongoing judgment, judging each other for the ways we’ve each decided is best for us to deal with this traumatizing situation.
Another layer of stress is our own personal health. Staying healthy and contending with our “other” health issues is still important.
All of the usual stresses of life — such as paying the bills, personal relationships, concerns for our children — have all been exacerbated by COVID.
I miss going out to dinner, attending concerts, having all my family together.
Not to mention formerly simple tasks like grocery shopping. When is the best time to go?
When the husband and I mask up in our car before going into the store, we joke that it feels like we’re preparing for a heist.
Of course, there are bright spots in all of this, but that must be saved for another day.
It seems the question of when this will end cannot be answered. Our experts have disappointed us time and again with false forecasts.
In a Feb. 18 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, chief medical adviser to Sesame Care and author of “The Price We Pay,” presented an argument in which he concluded, “At the current trajectory, I expect COVID will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”
Just like last April.
Would to God he is right.