Sheltering in Place
I’m not handling this well. That was my mantra a month ago. The beginning of the whole Pandemic-a-palooza wore me down. Then I realized that no one is handling it well. What a relief to know I could stop shouldering self-administered blame for not easily adapting to a hostile takeover by Covid-19.
Somewhere around the Ides of March, I realized we are in the midst of the World’s Biggest Mental Health Crisis.
Regardless of nationality, every day people wake up to a mental cattle prod. A reminder that nothing is normal now. “Oh, yeah, the whole damn world is on fire.” Our ringside seat is the square feet of living space in which we are isolated.” The planet needs a shrink’s couch big enough to allow a couple of billion people to lie down and discuss how this whole experience makes us feeeeel.
The kicker is that I spend very little time worrying that I will get sick. What pervades my thoughts is the fear of not being able to procure enough groceries. It’s exhausting feeling like I’m on a game show on which the grand prize package is a 12-pack of toilet paper, a can of Lysol and a dozen eggs.
I’m old enough to remember Reagan pointing out how the Russians stood in line for basics like bread and milk; something the good old U.S. of A. would never experience. Yet here we are, lining up at dawn, pitted against our neighbors to play another round of Apocalypse Supermarket Sweep.
I don’t hoard. I have the basics, although in my house that has somehow come to mean six magnum bottles of merlot and one hundred pounds of cat litter.
I’m a sensitive person. Just ask my parents (who are dead and won’t answer you). The downside of being sensitive comes in the form of excessive worrying about how others are suffering during The Virus. I battle myself daily to stop taking on the psychic pain of my fellow passengers.
I can’t emotionally afford to keep worrying about my elderly neighbors who don’t understand how to order groceries online. My teacher friends who are grieving the loss of their students and their classrooms. The parents who struggle to appear to remain calm in order to fool their children into thinking everything is OK.
I ponder if this is the End of Days. Not the biblical version, mind you, but more like Captain Trips from The Stand. If this is our dystopian end, I admit I’m kind of disappointed by the lack of zombies.
The shit icing on this viral cake is that I cannot think of a person less qualified to lead us as a nation through this than the current occupant of the White House. Not satisfied with merely being an imbecile, Trump actively works to make things more dangerous for millions of us. I’ll just leave it at that, or we’ll be here for days.
Mind you, I’m learning how to have a couple of good days in a row. For me, that means a day in which I don’t cry. I don’t wake up in the night to pee, then sit on my bed for an hour combatting racing thoughts about how long I can make a bank account already on fumes last.
This, too, shall pass. That’s what a lot of social media philosophers say. Hopefully, this will be in our rearview mirrors soon enough. I light a lavender-scented candle for that sentiment daily, although I question the reality of it. While we wait for the outcome, can I get you a glass of wine?
Eve Allen is a writer living in Texas.