Wow, my last post/title had the worst timing ever, eh?
March 9th was the last normal day I had experienced since the coronavirus pandemic took over the state of New Jersey. On March 8th I went out to celebrate my birthday with friends and some fam at a favorite dive bar, which coincided with our town’s St. Patrick Day parade after party (what I would give right now to be in a crowded lil bar with no worries of catching a deadly virus). One of my best friends tried to coerce me to stay home the next day. “C’mon, we will go to our favorite place and get that salad we love when we used to work at X (which is now out of the way and a special occasion).” I told her no, I really couldn’t – so much going on. But that next day I woke up and I thought to myself – eff it. I want the salad and I could use some bestie time… and it’s still ‘kinda’ my birthday. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we headed off for lunch, where another friend met us since she works nearby. It was a great afternoon, and I am so, so grateful I made that call that day. It was the last time I have had in person social contact since the coronavirus hit.
Later that same week, anxiety really started to set in as the daily count here in NJ and NY was doubling. It started to take over to the point that I couldn’t really concentrate at work. I started to worry about the possibility of contracting the virus and bringing it home to my mother, who has a lung condition. I imagined the worse case scenario, where she would get sick and then die…and it was my fault. How would I ever live with myself? My heart would race at the thought, and my mind would shut down. I can’t lose her period, but especially not just when I am starting to heal from my dad. Life has thrown enough jokes at me, I can’t entertain that thought.
That Friday, literally days after my birthday lunch, I talked it all out with my boss. My son’s school was on the verge of shutting down and starting remote instruction (which would happen the next week) and so I would need to be home. I had worked from home, yes, but wasn’t sure how it would be received that I needed to be home for the foreseeable future. I am so lucky to have the manager I do – he is truly family first and I didn’t have to feel my worries were being ‘dramatic.’ He told me he expected the company to implement full time remote work for those employees that are able, which they did. I am now entering my 8th week of full time remote work, wow.
I don’t even know how to unpack these past few weeks, emotionally. I have had a lot of anxiety. I have also had a lot of gratitude. I am speaking from a privileged perspective to still be able to work, and to do so from home. I am an introvert, so I honestly thrive on a lot of alone time. I am not going to lie, I love being home full time for work. After leaving my job in NY, I celebrated this new job for being so close to home (my commute is 20 minutes one way) and being able to eat dinner with my family every night. Well, this is 10x better. I am getting anxiety now at the thought of having to go back (ugh. haha), this has spoiled me. But the rest of it has been an experience. I quite literally feel starved for human interaction, which is a foreign concept for me. It just goes to show how important human connection really is for your well-being.
The other side of the anxiety has been from social media and the political spectrum. I have never before had to limit myself from accessing social media before – not even during the 2016 election aftermath – but something is happening out there right now. I remember after 9/11, the country really found a way to come together in unity and recognize that we had the same goals in mind. Right now, it seems so far-fetched to think we will ever be able to see that again. I really hope I am wrong.
The plus side of all this is that I have plenty of time to focus on my health, and I have continued to meet my goals surrounding physical health and well being. I will probably unpack that at a later time and date, but, yay me! I am pretty proud that these habits seem to be sticking. I imagine it has to help somewhat in the midst of all the anxiety I am already feeling… I am at least taking care of myself well, both with healthy foods and exercise.
The next few weeks – months will be telling. While most of the country is pushing to reopen, our state (along with our allied states) are caught between wanting to return to normal (that no longer exists) and help the economy. Making the right choices is crucial, and I don’t envy any government officials right now.
My hope for whoever is reading this – I hope you are taking good care of yourself and doing the little things that are needed to help you feel some normalcy in this unprecedented time in history. I think this is a wake up call for us all, and I hope we emerge better as a people, country, and planet.
I pray that you and your family are safe and healthy and remain so, and I hope God shows us His mercy soon.