How Are You Doing? Feeling A Little Hemmed In?

Pandemic Diary Day 6

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Todays diary entry is a result of talking with my girlfriend Mari. She is by nature an incredibly social person and very outgoing. She is 83 years old and sports a short, short haircut dyed tennis ball green, if that helps you get your head around how extroverted she is. We have been Sheltering in Place for over two weeks now and Mari is feeling lonely and grappling with the darker feelings that are sneaking in.

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March 30, 2020 — Announced this morning, the San Francisco Bay Area Shelter in Place has been extended through May 1st.

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Today I am sitting here looking out of my window at another beautiful San Francisco day. I am in a very good place. But I was not always that way. Years ago I lost my husband and soul mate completely unexpectedly, and in a split second, he was too young. I had lost my dearest friend to suicide just 3 months before. Then within another 12 month period I lost three more extremely important people in my life.

This isn’t a plea for sympathy, far from it, this is just a statement to say that I completely understand how depression can drown a person during these frightening times.

When this all happened to me I went into a very deep depression for several years, and then I spent a few more holding onto the ledge where I could see the light, but I still could not climb out. The next few years were spent suffering from PTSD as a result of the entire trauma. I am fine now, I consider myself very lucky, I made it out of the dark hole and back into the world very much worse for wear, but all in one piece and ready to begin again.

I am starting to see signs of overwhelming sadness in my friends that is manifesting itself much like grief does. I have several friends that say they wake with lots of good intentions, plans to tick off items on their todo list and then, it is the end of the day before the know it, and nothing has been accomplished. That can be a sign of suffering. It also could mean that lazy is your new normal, or, we feel this is never going to end so there is lots of time to get those little things done.

The Harvard Business Review ran a great article as a Q and A and I want to copy two of those here:

HBR: People are feeling any number of things right now. Is it right to call some of what they’re feeling grief?

Kessler: Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.

You said we’re feeling more than one kind of grief?

Yes, we’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.

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So what are my two cents? It is important to know you are not alone. However, it is really harder to deal with this when we are all Sheltered In Place. Many people are with family, and that most definitely helps, but remember, so many people are SIP all alone.

So please pick up the phone, sure email and texting is easier, but pick up the phone and call someone out of the blue it will help both of you.

Let’s revive the idea of the written letter. They are so rare now-a-days that receiving a nice long chatty letter, or even just a funny card with a quick note is always a pick-me-up.

This will pass, but saying that and feeling it deep down are two very, very different things. But knowing what you are feeling is downright normal, and that you truly are not bothering anyone if you pick up the phone and ask for help is a beginning.

Turn off the news for a while, go ahead, sit and contemplate your navel, light a candle and stare at the flame, cook something decadent. Hey, how about you turn on Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger full blast, strip to your underwear grab a broom and dance your heart out. There are so many ways to break this cycle if even for just a little while.

Trivial Things

My Horoscope for today: Speak from the heart. People may not like what you have to say, but it doesn’t mean they’ll stop liking you.

The NYT Crossword Puzzle: Exceptionally easy with Skype, considering these times, being an appropriate answer to one of the clues.

San Francisco weather: 52 degrees and cloudy

NYSE DOW opened at: 21678

Italian word of the day: connessione (association)

Spanish word of the day: el cirujano (surgeon)

OED word of the day: baby blues

Days under Shelter in Place: 17

Special Something: My friend Don M. sent me this amazing article on the tiles of Barcelona. I had never heard of these. When this is all over and travel is again allowed, I hope to go hunting for these.

My Black and White Picture of the Day

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