This Covid-19 pandemic has been quite the test of normality and mental stability. Here’s a little solace for those times you’re not okay.
Full disclosure: today, I am okay. However, there have been days in this pandemic where I have not been okay. Days where I felt paralyzed with fear and anxiety. That I had to remind myself that I could draw breath, that the corset-like tightness around my ribcage was all in my head. This is not a metaphor. I’ve woken up in the night from sleep with anxiety-induced pain and had to get up and walk around until my muscles loosened, and I could take full breath again without consciously telling myself it’s not possible.
It’s okay to be not okay.
We’re in an unprecedented situation. Some of you may be working in essential services, having to put yourself at risk daily. Perhaps you’re not working and worried about your finances. Others may be trying to work from home, school their kids, or even both at once. None of us know when this is going to end, when the world will feel safe once again.
Meanwhile, we’re being bombarded with messaging that suggests this is the time to be more productive. To pick up a new hobby, or resume an old one. To craft, to bake, to go go go, and do do do.
As a single person, you might think I have it easier, getting through this. I have my own challenges, though. The last time I hugged someone – or had any tactile contact with another human being – was March 14th. It was my nephew’s birthday. We went into lockdown shortly after, and now we’re not supposed to get within six feet of anyone we don’t live with. I don’t live with anyone.
While it might be easy to cheat, to screw restrictions and just go hug my mom, I can’t justify doing that. Everyone can come up with some sort of exception, and if we all get exceptions we won’t flatten the curve. We owe it to each other, to our immunocompromised, elderly, babies, people with lung issues (and so on), to grit our teeth and push through. My best friend’s husband has severe asthma, and it’s incredibly scary for their family to think about how harmful catching the coronavirus would be for him. We need to treat this seriously and follow the rules to prevent community spread for him and others in similar situations, and it makes me incredibly angry that there are people who are putting others in danger right now. I can’t be selfish but that doesn’t mean this isn’t hard.
It’s okay to be not okay. It’s okay if you can’t, or don’t want to do any of those productive, homemaker things. This is not a vacation. This is pandemic. Do your best to get through. That’s good enough, I promise.
The world is not okay. I can’t read American news right now because of the way things are being handled. Your feelings about the world, your country, or even just your own individual are valid. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. I’m in a very, very privileged position. I’m able to work from home with a stable pay check and minimal distractions (no kids to watch or try to teach). I’m lucky. That still doesn’t invalidate that the pandemic is impacting my mental health. That I see my friends hurting or scared and feel helpless because I want to fix things for them and I can’t.
It’s okay to be not okay.
*Title photo by Aliyah Jamous, next photo by Finn