It is incredible what a pandemic can do to your mind and how it can make your entire lifetime up to this moment feel as though it has only been seconds of time.
I think it is natural for us to all grieve the change of our lives for the unforeseeable future differently yet very similar as well. It is as if we lost something. But we don’t really know what yet. A sense of comfort? A sense of control? A sense of protection? Our normal has been flipped upside down and the new “now” version is not so attractive.
I wake up in the morning with no yearn to get out of bed, yet if I stay still too long I get a sense of hopelessness that getting up and moving about can solve temporarily. So I get up, I move around my home, but end up in the same seat, selling the same ebay items, turning a game that was relief into a job, because I have to grasp onto the idea that money may become an issue if this remains the normal for too long. Which is contradictory to my mental health needing it as a release, yet also important to maintain my long term mental health as income. Pandemics make things complicated.
But while I sit and do the mundane movements to pad my bank account, to which would normally inspire me to get a new camera lens or pair of shorts, instead I look back on my life and wonder if my choices that lead me to this place were incorrect. If perhaps I squandered the important years of my life. If perhaps I didn’t focus on the money enough and happiness is not the answer(against my own better judgement). Perhaps I don’t feel like a man, like I thought I would by this time, regardless of what my accomplishments may say. Perhaps I didn’t take enough time to heal the anxieties that caused pain in my life and changed my course, perhaps I didn’t take enough time to mourn the losses of love in my life to truly love again. Perhaps I feel like meeting someone is being taken from me as we waste months and months of my older life where I am still single and now unable to meet people. Perhaps I didn’t work out the trauma in my childhood enough to have been able to do any of the above successfully.
Yet I am also keenly aware of my successes.
The successes that now, make me want to showcase my life as a whole not as a singular “focus”. A picture I want to paint so that I can become the sum of my parts and perhaps go to new reaches. But again I am held back by others I must rely on to help me get there, who are also going through their own version of the pandemic. But these moments of excitement are often short lived as I struggle to stay above water.
I am desperately looking to get out of my current living situation and into a place with some land and fresh air, but I cannot buy now, as I do not have a flipping clue where I want to end up permanently. I can rent, but the process of trying to find a place to live during a pandemic, is similar to trying to build a life raft while you are already drowning in the sea.
I talk to my friends, family, loved ones. I realize my circle is very small. Was this a mistake? Did I covet the wrong friendships leaving me alone in times of need. I realize my pandemic doesn’t look like some, and my pandemic looks exactly like others.
I have gone through a few phases of grief already;
Denial: oh I will be fine, I am used to working at home, this is nothing, I know better, obviously the summer is canceled, all will be fine at home… then 3 months in, 15 lbs heavier, and watching as my pandemic didn’t look like others, no longer feeling together in or fight against this virus, I find myself begging my parents to accept my cats into their home as I begin to lose my mind and as a grown man want to live with them again. Almost 37 and literally pleading to be back under my parents roof. Even considering giving up my cats that I love beyond the moon(I would never), but the thought crossed my mind so that I could have that simple comfort for just a bit as my mind feels like it is disintegrating faster each day. I may almost be 37 but that comfort, that lifeline of my childhood, the way I grew up, the niceties I was afforded, feeling so familiar yet so out of reach now that the world has flipped upside down, or just made the realities a bit more clear to see and feel on a day to day. But even then I feel as though it would be selfish and possibly putting their lives in danger if I were to join the bubble.
Anger: being filled with anger at everything, at people, at those who cannot grasp this the way I do, at those who ignore it, at those who make my own brain more cloudy instead of helping to ease the pressure. This is less of it but a part nonetheless.
Depression: This one took even me by surprise and is what caused me to even consider getting on a knee and shoving pride up my ass to ask to live back home. The scary thoughts I have during the night, and morning, and throughout the day. The way I can’t see anything but black at the end of the tunnel of the thing called life. The feeling of hopelessness that creeps into my daily everything. This is new for me, and it scares the shit out of me. I don’t know how to fight it. I don’t know if it needs a hug, or a yard, or a change, or just an escape. There is no release valve for us here in the US, and the pressure builds up and up and up and causes this I suppose. And it is scary. My sleep schedule is non-existent. I can maybe get a good, 2-3 days of schedule before it falls to crap. My dreams are my only relief, when I am not having anxiety dreams of forgetting my mask.
Bargaining: I suppose this might be part of me now looking to accept the need for a roommate, or perhaps trying to look for a new place to live, or considering moving out of the country, or thinking that making a few extra bucks by turning the game that was my relief into a job will give me a sense of something more than the nothing I feel.
Acceptance: I feel as though I accepted what this would be a long time ago, and this was the first step, but I didn’t consider how the rest would hit me, I felt immune to that kind of thinking, that way of processing. I was above that reality. But turns out, we are all human and even I am not able to escape the scary depths of the mind. I should know this though considering at 19 my world was turned upside down by my first knowledgeable panic attack and how I had to pivot my life according to that. But no in my mind, I am the person you want on your zombie apocalypse team. I am the one who knows how to see the way forward, I am the one who jumps in front of danger and defeats it. I am the survivor. But I also hurt and bleed like everyone else, and right now the fight is like watching two sloths box at a slow crawl.
But these are five steps based on a world we know and understand. The world we are in currently is something we can not predict. So there are a few steps in here we don’t even comprehend or know how to define yet.
Then on top of a pandemic the cracks of society have been laid out bare to all to see. Things I would never have advocated for before, because I didn’t think anyone would listen are now at the forefront of people’s minds, mouths, and intentions. I sit here wondering if we will enter a civil war with those who are choosing to fall on their sword over a mask. If we will enter a civil war with those who throw their badges on the ground because they can’t use a headlock or kneel on a neck. I sit here and wonder if we will recover from an economic downturn that we haven’t even BEGUN to see yet.
The country is in this pandemic together, but the minute money is brought up, it is excuses and deflection.
I am actually truly worried about the extended benefits stopping. There is a difference between “Open” and “Safe”. And with the benefits ending that I was blessed to have (although once again in any other country it is your RIGHT), I can see the next few months to a year being really grim, I know I will not be spending at all on anything but necessities(which impacts the economy as a whole). Multiply that by the many others like me.
Imagine those paycheck to paycheck with families. They will be homeless, jobless, out on the streets. This country/state is going to see the worst economic downturn due to no spending, and defaulting on homes, apartments, and people going hungry. The streets are going to be ugly, people will die, people will get violent, and this pandemic will look like a kids toy compared to the damage done. We haven’t seen even close to what is to come yet. And that scares me.
Looking at houses and that market, opened my eyes to just how desperate and foolish we are all making decisions. We have created a culture, a country, where a human life is worth less than a dollar bill, and it is clear as day to everyone except us. Disney World is fucking open. WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO SAY?!
So no, I am not OK. And no there is no pill that will fix this/me. And yes, as the days go on, it becomes harder to get that feeling of reprieve from going outdoors on my mom’s patio or from my dad’s driveaway. I wish I could put a valve in my brain that I could turn to let out the pressure. It continues to build and the days become increasingly harder, even though everyday is the same. Nothing changed from today to tomorrow, and that is the problem.
Am I going to off myself, no, I am scared shitless of death and this pandemic has shown me how much more scared I am of it. The big issue is it won’t let me forget for a moment about my mortality for more than a moment here and there. Are other’s going to commit suicide, yes. This is going to be too much for many. I guess this writing is one way for me to just let out some steam in a new reality I am not familiar with and not sure what to do.
Do I need a sad face emoji for dopamine? No. A like? Nah, will probably just bring me back to anger at the pedantic nature of it all. As if a “like” will make it better. It won’t. Am i I intelligent enough to know there is a light at the end of this tunnel somewhere, absolutely. But when and how long I have to feel this pain is unknown. And how this will feel in a day or an hour from now is unknown, and that freaks me out.
I don’t even know what my normal looks like after this, do I fight for the civil justices that are more important than my “art” or do I go full steam ahead and try to create more art to balance it all out. I am sure there is a middle ground, I just don’t see it yet, at least not one that makes an impact. I watch as the younger generations milk social media “following” each other in this circle jerk of “influence” which goes in a loop not actually moving the needle anywhere. I wonder, why are my words considered less important or “influential” due to a number by my name or a checkmark? I watch as the kids question everything they say afraid of what they may actually mean offending someone else. And I sit here, feeling disconnected from the same people I see being the ones that can truly impact change in this country. But that is another thing for another time…
No way to really end this… July 21 2020 Covid19 Month 5.
Shit, I still have snow tires on my car.