Hello, friends. It’s been awhile.
First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. And if fate has not been kind, may recovery be swift and full.
During the initial onset of the pandemic, I was writing regularly. Mostly, I was keeping a personal log of events as they were unfolding: the numbers of infected, the local and national response, etc. At that time, I was employed and physically going to my job on a regular basis. I would work all day, then come home and write in the evenings. Although I was exhausted, life still had a minuscule sense of normalcy. But like millions of others, I too lost my job, along with any accompanying semblance of structure. I became adrift, navigating a crush of strong and simultaneous emotions. And like everyone else, I was adjusting to the new reality of the lockdown. Confined to the four walls of my apartment and restricted from the usual wellness-generating activities, such as going to the gym, I found it almost impossible to concentrate on even the smallest of tasks. With the reptilian part of my brain activated for survival, the rest of my mind slipped into numbness, a creative coma of sorts. For a few weeks, writing was not an option.
But throughout my life, writing has always been the anchor, during both tumultuous times and periods of grace and ease. While the flow temporarily went on lockdown with everything else, I intuitively knew it would return. I could at least trust that much. Sure enough, a few days ago, I began to feel the familiar stirrings. Ideas and words resurfaced. And I’m back with you now. Of course, even this has an air of uncertainty. Thoughts come in fits and starts. Inspiration, ever fickle, could blow away again in an instant. Sentences could give way to rambling. The read could be bumpy at times. But if you’ve made it this far, I hope that you’ll please bear with me. My goal is to share my perspective on the crisis, but even more, to offer up what has helped get through these days a little more comfortably.
The past several weeks have been an exhausting crush of intense feelings and wild thoughts. Fear, anxiety and despair menace relentlessly. Worst-case scenarios gallop through my brain, torching any notions of favorable outcomes or even optimism. It’s a real-time hell that I know many of us have been experiencing. But in spite of the mad bleakness I battle, I’m stubborn. I also have faith in my own resilience. And although chaos is whirling all around me, I’m determined to stay sane and well. With that intention as my guide, here are a few things that have been helpful for me:
Of course, some days are better than others. Most days, I’m able to check many of the aforementioned boxes and feel that my efforts at self-care are paying off. However, I still have some bad days, which usually involve bingeing on chocolate and Netflix or nervously pacing around the apartment and engaging in busy work (i.e. doing dishes) just to stay grounded. But this is okay too. We’re all going through scary and uncertain times. Although global pandemics are not entirely unprecedented, this is certainly new for all of us. We don’t have instructions on how to do this. There are no maps or guides. And what is helpful for one person, might not be for another. We’re in this together but figuring it out for ourselves.
History gives me hope. Generations before us have survived pandemics and have rebuilt after the fact. I also have faith in all the scientists who are using their highest skills and expertise to help us find a way out of this. In the interim, the best we can do is to take care of ourselves and each other. Save for physical harm, there are no right or wrong approaches. The goal is to survive with our hearts and minds intact. To that end, I say do whatever works.