Coronavirus Blog #13: Will this end soon?

Today is March 26, 2020. We can’t complain too much about our situation, aside from wishing that we could play with friends, see family, and visit our favorite outdoor haunts.

A few weeks ago, when my state chose to close the schools, we were told that the shutdown would end in 14 days. The kids would miss a few days of school, and then we’d have spring break. And then we’d just go back to normal.

A few days later, the shutdown was extended to April 28th.

The update didn’t come as too much of a surprise.

It is almost April now…and the date of the original shutdown is close to passing. As the news trickles out day in and day out, things seem fairly stable where I live, but they seem to be increasingly unstable in other places.

It is heartbreaking to see other states who didn’t have lockdowns or quarantines as quickly as we did rushing now to do the same. We are a small state population-wise, and our populations centers aren’t anywhere near the number and density as places like New York City or LA.

It is tough to see news reports coming out talking about how hundreds of police officers in new york tested positive for the virus, and how nurses and doctors are falling sick (and dying) as well.

I feel helpless. I know a lot of other people do as well, which is why we are starting to see a lot of people sewing masks for medical professionals.

I have to remind myself and remember though, that by staying home, by keeping my kids home, or if we go out of the house, that we go places where we don’t come into contact with other people….we are doing something. We are helping, by changing the way we live and the things we do.

Mental Health Check-Ins

During this time when we are separated and apart from the people we love and care about, using technology as often as possible to check in on friends and family is really important. So far, the news is dominated by the pandemic updates. The secondary impacts of the virus (depression, small business struggles, hunger) are not making headlines.

But we know that it is already happening.

There are many families that depend heavily upon school meals to eat on a regular basis. In the United States, we have these little bubbles of our lives, and we don’t see what it looks like in other people’s home. I learned not long ago that there are “dirt floor poor” people living in the same county where I do.

I look around, I look at the homes, the stores, the level of society, and I find it really hard to believe. How is it possible? How could I not see or know that this level of poverty exists within a few miles of my own comfortable home?

This virus is going to be putting pressure on regular families, and extra pressure on families like the ones in my community who were already under pressure and struggling to make it.

My worry is that we will start to see people giving up, not seeing that there is an end to all of this, losing home that we’ll eventually overcome this and return our lives to normal.

But not just food insecure families. Folks who are already struggling with depression or mental illness, who aren’t able to attend regular counseling sessions or receive the normal treatment. People who are pushed over the edge into panic by the constant stream of bad news pouring out of the television.

I spent some time with my mom the other day

I broke my strict quarantine today. I’ve been keeping myself and my kids away from all people, and have done so since about March 14th.

My mother has been freaking out. She has been staying home from work. She lives alone.

She spends all day, every day, watching the news. She is basically living in a 24-7 state of panic.

She thinks she is going to get the virus.

That she’ll die alone, in a hospital where no one can visit her.

She thinks about it everyday….all day.

My mom is in her 60s. But she is otherwise healthy.

I don’t think of her as being some who is any more vulnerable than anyone else to the virus.

But she is convinced that if she leaves her house, she’ll get the virus and keel over.

She has even talked about just trying to get it to see if it’ll kill her, so she can just get over it (or not).

On a day when I didn’t have the kids, I went over to her house and took a walk with her. Outside.

I wasn’t sure she’d see me, but in the end she relented.

While we walked, she just vented and vented about how afraid she was, and about all the news she was watching.

I listened, but I did whatever I could to counsel her to STOP wasting time watching the news so much, and to START doing positive things for herself during her alone time.

To set up her computer so she could work from home instead of watching television all day.

To start walking.

To start lifting weights.

To work on her house, to cook, to clean out her massively overpacked garage.

I broke quarantine to do a mental health check-in with my mother, and I was glad that I did. My mom was spiraling down, without any sort of support or guidance.

Yes, I might expose her to some germ that will harm her.

But the alternative might be worse. The alternative might be that my mom sinks into a massive depression, and end up in a really bad place emotionally.

I drank a flavored water while I was there and when I went to throw the can in the recycling, I saw that the bin was overflowing with empty cans (and not the water kind).

When I confronted my mother about the state of her recycling, she denied drinking everything recently….but I don’t believe her.

Sometimes, virtual check-ins don’t show us the whole truth.

I’m going to be popping in on my mom a lot more going forward.

Yes, I know it raises the risk for all of us.

But I’m not okay with the alternative.