Thursday, 8 October 2020

I Imagine I'm Not The Only One

I feel like in some ways everything stopped in March.

Like, I remember reading/hearing about a novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan China at the end of last year and shrugging it off like most of the other epidemic type things (and even the last few pandemics if I'm honest).  Yes, I heard about it from there... I have friends of friends who live in Hong Kong and they mentioned their kids coming out of school and still it felt like "far away thing".

And then it hit other countries, I think it was Italy that was heavy hit "early on"?  And then there was a case here (like, North America) and then New York got bad and I kept that feeling of what I assume is denial?  "Well, these things never really come here" or "Well the bird flu wasn't that bad"  or "Oh, well the swine flu didn't affect me at all anyway" but I started to see people around in masks and gloves and I got uncomfortable and nervous because I didn't know what I should be thinking/feeling and hey, with a system already prone to overreacting due to anxiety I didn't want to run screaming down the halls of crazy unnecessarily.  

But then there was that bizarre (yes, I still find it bizarre) run on toilet paper.  Like what even was that ever about other than herd mentality and group panic leading to group panic and I started being more aware of my hands and washing my hands and not touching my face and I remember my Mom at one point saying she wasn't going to Tai Chi any more because lots of her classmates were Chinese and travelled there a lot and I kind of felt like she was maybe being a little racist (?) and over reacting but whatever.... she's an old school trained nurse - she's allowed her safety fears even if I thought they were dumb (turns out probably not, who knew?  my Mom apparently....)  I remember seeing my parents in early March - a home visit, where we talked briefly about the virus and my Mum mentioned she still hadn't gone back to Tai Chi (I asked - she'd not gone in several months at this point) and that she and Dad were being pretty cautious due to their age and Dad's heart situation.  I hugged them both on my way out and looked them in the eye and exchanged "I love yous" and it's been that many months since I have hugged my parents and I have an acute awareness that I may possibly never do so again.  (Big sigh).

I started adjusting my shopping habits some point early March and Jason and I talked about possible lockdown and what would happen if chains of supply got broken and I started adding canned goods to my late night shopping trips (fewer people in the stores) and my anxiety turned to full on panic that second week of March as there started to be a sense that we'd lockdown and we had no idea how that would look or work or how bad it might get and timing wise my regular set of prescriptions got ordered just in time and there was a buzz of anxious energy anywhere you went and the day before lockdown happened I had my prescriptions and a pantry with canned goods and a decent supply of groceries and a regular amount of toilet paper (!) and then it felt like everything stopped.

Our country shut down.  Kind of.  I was scared for the people still working.  I wanted to cheer and yell THANK YOU every time the garbage trucks came by.  I had no idea how dangerous the situation was and it felt to me like every surface was carrying enough of the virus to make me (or anyone) sick.  So I  wore gloves to take out the garbage, thankful that I'd been able to buy some when they were all sold out.  (I quickly switched to handkerchiefs for the environmental impact.)  I struggled to order certain things online (like liquid soap).  I stayed out of stores.  Away from people.  And yes, for a terribly long time I had a really hard time leaving the house at all.  At all.  I'd go for a walk, after days of freaking out about it and I'd have a bandana around my neck.  I'd pull it up when there wasn't room for us to avoid each other on sidewalks (between roads and walls, etc.) and I'd be stressed, but trying to get fresh air.  I had weird panic shopping moments... like I ordered two sets of foot powder from the UK because my anxiety suddenly freaked out that I'd never get any ever again and the company would shut down because of all this and the one full thing of it I had?  Well that didn't factor in.  I panic shopped a LOT in the first while, not knowing if supply would run out.  I tried to reduce the amount of loads of laundry I did and dish washing because what if I ran out of soap and detergent??  I was living with absolute panic anxiety over everything not being ok and not having supplies of.... everything while feeling like I could get deathly sick at any moment and that everyone around me could and would as well.  What would this look like?  Overwhelmed hospitals and dying people in hallways?  Like the stories we'd been hearing out of New York and other places?  I couldn't stop myself from reading the horror stories and the awful illnesses and deaths and that would make me panic even more and I genuinely didn't want anyone to catch it.  Not my family, not my friends, not strangers, not anyone.  It sounded awful, and like the choices were between horrendous death or horrendous non life for... ever.  Damn.

And all this just to say I think a lot of me is still back there in March...waiting for things to go back to "normal".  I suppose that's denial too, eh?  But to look at the calendar and see October feels surreal.  I can look outside as I type this and tell you, yeah, it's a cooler March day.... Spring, you know?  Chilly sometimes...

I know I've been waiting for this to be over since it started.  And while I can understand those professionals who say it might be another year or two, I can not wrap my brain around how that feels or how that looks or how that works.  

There is also the fact that I do not WANT to accept this.  Yes, I know there are always viruses and bacteria around and a lot of the time our bodies come into contact with them and fight them off (thanks for that by the way) and sometimes they don't.  I've had chicken pox, pneumonia, bronchitis, colds, flus, probably a bunch of other things I've forgotten.  And there are the other things like cancer that you can't "catch"... and there are sprained ankles and broken arms and concussions and who knows how many other things I could name, like I GET and understand that all that is out there all the time.  I do not want to live in a hermetically sealed bubble.  I DO want to have a healthy, happy immune system and a healthy body, but this damn virus, being new... being "novel", it's not something I feel comfortable just brushing off.  We're, how many months in and still learning?  So I can't just tell myself it's "no big deal" and if you can, I'm envious of you.  I am certainly calmer about it than I was 6+ months ago but yeah, this whole thing has messed with me big time.  Including my sense of time and reality.  I spent a lot of time in Spring going "this isn't real?" and lots of other people I spoke to had that same feeling.  And lots of other folks are weirded out by how time is "working" lately.  This all is just weird.  Weird, weird, weird, and now you're telling me it's Autumn?  The one before Winter?  Y'all, we didn't even have a Spring!!!!


Jason Langlois said...


This was very much like suddenly becoming aware of your tongue.

Victoria said...

Oh no! Sorrrrryyyyyyyyyy.