Just over seven months ago, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) was declared a global pandemic. A few days later, the governor of my state (California) issued a “shelter in place” order that still remains in effect today.
People are now getting out and about more often and more businesses are open, but the virus case count, hospitalizations, and death rate remain high and are actually escalating as we move into the cooler months. Any hope of this crisis dissipating in the near term seems to have been dashed at this point. Who knows how long this will last and how devastating it might be?
Early on in this crisis, I wrote two posts related to what’s going on in the world and how to stay sane:
I also touched on how I was feeling a little bit in another post that was mostly centered on wardrobe issues. Since that time (June), I haven’t written about the pandemic at all. There have been two reasons for this…
- First of all, I wasn’t even sure what I was feeling. I felt a lot of numbness more than anything else for a long time, or maybe I just didn’t want to feel what was there.
- Second, once I tuned in more to my feelings, I found that they were quite dark and I didn’t want to write a predominantly negative post. I always try to be more upbeat here, or at least end my essays with some helpful conclusions or suggestions that might be useful for readers. I didn’t want to add to whatever fear and negativity you might already be feeling.
I Want to Be Real
The above is all true, but more than anything else, I want to be real in what I write. So while I could just continue my trend of either not posting at all (it’s been almost a month!) or only writing wardrobe-related posts (which are of course still real but maybe not as timely or helpful right now) because they’re easier (even though they often take more time to complete), I’m not going to do that today. A close friend convinced me to share my feelings about this altered state we’re all in. She told me that my open, honest, and heartfelt posts are the best pieces that I write and that I often put into words what other people are feeling.
So here goes… I don’t know how this is all going to come out, but I’m not going to censor myself and I’m just going to “let it flow,” so to speak.
I feel depressed and hopeless. When people started talking about the “new normal” months ago, I fought that concept tooth and nail. I didn’t want to embrace all of the doom and gloom that was being spewed out by the media. That position didn’t mean I didn’t take the virus seriously because I did. I followed – and continue to follow – the recommendations for hand-washing, social distancing, and (begrudgingly) mask wearing, but I just didn’t think it was going to last this long. I thought that we’d maybe have to alter our way of life for a few months, but now there is really no end in sight and I feel distraught about that.
I Don’t Have a Full Life – And It’s Gotten Smaller
I created this blog to try to help myself and others define and cultivate fuller lives for ourselves, but I feel like I’m failing miserably in that pursuit. I feel like a fraud, especially now. Despite starting Recovering Shopaholic, with the tagline of “Trade your full closet for a full life,” in January 2013 and trying to further that effort with Full Life Reflections (tagline: “Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment… in a chaotic world”) beginning in January 2018, I don’t feel like I’ve made much progress in creating a fuller life for myself.
My life has long been very small, partly because of struggling with chronic pain for many years and partly due to my extreme introversion and emotional issues. But prior to March of this year, I did have more of a life than I do now in many respects. I enjoyed going to movies and to the gym, as well as shopping and running errands. I was in a book club (that’s still happening via Zoom, but it’s not the same) and got together with friends two or three times per month. My husband and I dined in restaurants on a regular basis and went for walks along the water at least a few times per week. Now, with the exception of the walks, all of that is virtually gone. Of course, there are still errands to be run, but it’s now fraught with anxiety and the dreaded masks.
I really hate the masks, although I fully understand why they’re necessary at this point in time. They’re hot and difficult to breathe through and they obscure everyone’s faces. Whereas we used to smile and say hello to each other, now all we see are other people’s eyes and they’re usually looking down rather than at us. Everyone is afraid of each other now, as any one of us could be harboring a potentially life-ending pathogen. I feel like I’m in a horror movie that isn’t going to end in two hours like usual. Who knows when it’s going to end? Some of the doomsayers are mentioning 2022, while others are predicting that our lives will never get back to what we used to consider “normal.”
I Don’t Know How to Feel or Act
The truth is, I don’t know how to take that. I don’t know what to feel. I don’t know how to act and how to be. What I feel usually vacillates between numbness and wanting to scream at the top of my lungs. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my family and many of my friends again. I worry that maybe I will never see some of them again, especially if people like my high-risk mother and moderate-risk father were to contract the virus. They’re in their mid-to-late seventies and live in an area with a lower concentration of Covid cases, but the risk is still there and it worries me.
I know I have it better than many other people, particularly those who have already lost loved ones to this nightmare of a disease. I also know that I’m better off than those who are working on the front lines, either in a medical capacity or at an essential business like a grocery store or warehouse. I know I’m more fortunate than those who have lost their jobs or homes as a result of this pandemic or are struggling to pay their rent and bills.
I’m more fortunate than a lot of people, so I often feel guilty for being so forlorn over the current state of my life. My husband is healthy and still has work, albeit less than before this started. He’s doing much better than I am with all of this, mostly because of his continually upbeat, “glass half full” attitude that I truly wish I could embrace. He still has a life, as he continues to go to work and do some of his outdoor hobbies. He’s not at home all day long like I am, which didn’t used to bother me as much as it does now. My two cats continue to do well, but if there’s ever a problem with either of them, I’m not even able to accompany them into the vet office. I just hope and pray that they won’t need anything beyond a basic check-up until all of this is over (but will it ever be over?!).
Ready to Change, But Then Everything Stopped
Ironically, just before Covid (I hate that word with all of my being!) descended upon us, I was ready to dip my toe into the pool of a bigger life. Despite my health challenges and social anxiety, I had joined a few new Meetup groups and was going to push myself to actually go to the meetings. But then everything stopped.
At first, it wasn’t too bad and we were all in “survival mode,” thinking that if we did all of the right things, we could resume our “normal lives.” But that didn’t happen. Not everyone did the right things and what the rest of us did wasn’t good enough. And baking and Netflix weren’t enough to keep me (and likely many other people) out of the pits of depression.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety all of my life. For years, I haven’t had much of a social life and my life had gotten progressively smaller, but I always had hope that it could change. Knowing that so many other people were out there enjoying their lives helped me to believe that it was possible that I could get to a better place where I would be healthier, less depressed and anxious, and more engaged with other people and the world. I also hoped that maybe I could find a part-time job either at home or out in the world where I could connect, contribute, and earn some decent money. Now all of that is on hold, seemingly indefinitely, and I feel despair.
Can You Relate to What I’m Feeling?
I don’t know how much all of you can relate to what I’m writing. Perhaps some of you had a lot more going on in your lives than I did, but now all of that is reduced or even gone. Perhaps some of you live alone and feel even more isolated than I do. Perhaps you’re coping better – or even worse – than I am. The sometimes trite and overly stated saying, “We’re all in this together,” is true now more than ever. When has the entire world faced the same challenge? Never before in our lifetimes has this been the case, so why do I feel so alone?
So if you ever wonder why I have been writing so much about wardrobe-related topics in recent months, this is why. I have other topics that I could write about, but I don’t feel able to uplift or contribute solutions the way I’d like to. While the suggestions I shared back in April still hold true, I’ve been challenged to take them on myself as this pandemic – and blistering uncertainty – has dragged on and on and on.
Working Toward Acceptance
But what else can we do? I think what I need most of all right now is acceptance. Although I don’t need to embrace that this “new normal” (I still hate that phrase) will last forever, I do need to accept that it’s our reality for now. I need to find a way to have a fuller life in spite of the isolation, the doom and gloom, the masks (still hate those, too!), and the uncertainty. Kicking and screaming about how much I don’t like what is isn’t getting me anywhere other than more miserable.
I don’t like the masks, but the weather is getting cooler and they won’t be so uncomfortable during the winter. Also, they cover up the wrinkles and discoloration that have become more and more prevalent on my rapidly aging skin (which contributes to my social anxiety). I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself, but I have to figure something out because I’m going to go crazy if I continue to be so isolated and depressed. I need to find a way to forge a new life for myself in spite of the pandemic and all of its restrictions, fear, and anxiety.
I Don’t Have Answers, But Maybe You Do…
So in this post, I don’t have answers. All I really have is thoughts and feelings that I’m sharing in case they might provide some comfort to anyone out there. Although I don’t wish my levels of anxiety and despair on anyone, I know that I’m not alone in feeling what I do. Perhaps what I’ve shared might help someone out there to feel less alone, to feel that somebody “gets” how they’re feeling through all of this. If so, then it was well worth it to put myself and my feelings out there.
What I’m going to do now is try to find some “baby steps” I can take to get to a better place, to try to forge a fuller life in the midst of the deep uncertainty we’re all going through. I will write about that soon, but what I’d like to do now as I close this post is open things up for comments.
Any type of comment you’d like to leave is welcome, whether it’s to chime in with your own fears, anxieties, or anger – or if you want to offer some advice and wisdom to those of us who are struggling. I know we all deal with difficulties and uncertainty in different ways, and I also know that some of you are navigating these treacherous waters better than others of us are. But hopefully the beauty in my opening up about my feelings despite my fear and trepidation to lay myself bare is that maybe we can all feel a little less alone and we can also learn from each other.
I look forward to reading your thoughts, and if you don’t want to post them here, you’re welcome to write to me privately via my Contact page. I promise that my next post won’t be as heavy as this one! I’m not exactly sure what it will be about, but I have a few ideas and am always open to suggestions. We’re rapidly approaching the end of the year, so I will definitely do some updates soon on my “enough” theme, my “20 for 2020” goals, and of course my wardrobe goals and challenges, including my continued adventure with selling my clothes online.
Until next time, I wish you health, safety, and sanity. I also wish you peace and happiness and some level of fulfillment amidst the chaos of the world. Love and light to you always and thank you for reading my words. It means a lot to me, especially those of you who have been with me since the beginning.