The date is March 19th, a Thursday, and we are officially self-quarantining. It is strange. I already feel as though I’m in a place without time or dates. I go lie down if I want to. I’m getting a bare minimum done both around the house and in terms of work on personal projects. Just enough to keep my life together.
How am I doing, you ask?
I’m having intense anxiety, all the time. Tension headaches, tightness in the chest, difficulty sleeping and disrupted sleep. I have been prescribed a new medication for anxiety and sleep, and my other anxiety meds have been increased. I’m nauseated all the time. I have heart palpitations.
The anxiety is worse in the evening than it is in the morning. My mornings are pretty functional, and the physical sensations of stress increase steadily throughout the day until bedtime, when I lie down in bed, stiff as a board, and listen to my heart thump for two hours before drifting off for three to five hours.
I’m not that worried about the virus itself. I’ll get it or I won’t. It probably won’t kill me, though I may be sick as hell for a while. I am a little worried about friends and family who are in vulnerable categories.
But what really worries me is the future.
The economic impacts of this will be tremendous. The social impacts will be profound. The impacts of this will cross generations. And I can’t tell what will happen. There could be good changes; there could be very bad changes. Most likely it will be a mixed bag. But the not knowing, and the enormous scale of this thing, these are the things keeping me up at night.
Many of my favorite local businesses are either shut down, or working on very reduced operations. I worry about waking up to a world in which these businesses don’t exist. These businesses are one of the things that holds this community that I’m a part of together, and we will be greatly lessened by their loss.
Virtually every friend I have has a possible vector of exposure to the virus, which demonstrates how inaccurate the number of cases being reported is. The fact is the virus is much more widespread than the media is reporting, simply because we haven’t had the availability of testing that would allow us to accurately track the spread of the disease. I, in fact, have a vector of exposure to the virus. And I worry because some of these people will emerge irrevocably changed; either by their own struggle with the virus, or because of the loss of a loved one.
Some of them may not emerge at all.
It didn’t have to be this way.
I think that’s the thing that makes me the angriest.
We knew this virus had made its way to our shores. We knew on January 20th. And still, the government had no real response plan, and downplayed the impact of the virus rather than advising people to take steps to limit the spread. Senators dumped millions and millions in stock, knowing that the pandemic would impact the market.
I’m relatively lucky in that I live in a state where the government has taken steps. But in states where the government is taking a slightly more hands-off approach, I worry about folks there. They’re largely folks that I disagree with strenuously over issues that I will absolutely not compromise on, but they don’t deserve to be left to die by their government.
And I’m mad as hell that this has been made into a partisan issue. So angry.
I’m deliriously angry that part of the reason steps weren’t taken was to gloss over pandemic concerns due to an upcoming election.
People are going to die.
People are already dying.
And while not all of those deaths are avoidable, some of them certainly are.
The differentiation in access to testing and care between the rich and famous and the poor and obscure is a source of rage for me. This kind of testing shouldn’t be a luxury. It is to the benefit of all of us that testing is performed as widely as possible, to allow us to track the spread of the disease and take appropriate action.
And the anger I feel is so big that it feels like it’s a separate thing from me. Like it’s a big floating thing tethered to me, but separate from me. I feel the heat of it glowing against my skin.
It’s hard to say for sure, but I think this is the first time I spent even an entire day at home, let alone several days, in literal years. I get out of the house every day. It’s a part of how I hold my routine together, it’s a part of how I maintain productivity. I find it near impossible to get good work done at home, because there are so many distractions; other activities, sensory distractions, you name it.
I live with a housemate, and while we’re good friends, spending days at a time cooped up together in a small rental house is bound to take its toll, and that worries me too. I don’t want to end up in a situation in which the friendship becomes imperilled. I don’t want to potentially lose my housing.
I want to see other people. I want to see their faces, see the way their bodies move, and I can’t do that now.
I am, at heart, an extrovert. I like to be around people. And this… this indefinite separation from my community, it’s already difficult and it will take its toll on my mental state.
But even if I wanted to go out, the places I would go are closed.
I can’t tell if I’m sick or not, which is probably a good sign.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are difficult to suss out from severe anxiety: pain in the chest, headache, digestive upset, shortness of breath. In addition, I’m an asthmatic smoker, so a sore throat and some shortness of breath kinda come with the territory. I am very tired, all the time, but that can be due to stress as well.
Frankly the only symptom that can be sorted out from anxiety and smoking related sypmtoms is the fever. You can’t buy digital thermometers anymore, so I’m just checking in to see if I feel feverish. I do feel sweaty and flushed sometimes, when I’m tired, but nothing that feels like a bad fever. Not yet.
My housemate and their partner are also sick. Is it COVID-19? We don’t know, and we won’t know. Could be a seasonal cold, could be allergies. We can’t get tested, so what can we do other than act as if we may have the virus, and quarantine ourselves? It’s honestly the only responsible way to proceed I think.
The pets are a godsend. They neither know nor care about the virus, so their routine remains essentially unchanged, other than the fact that their people are now home all the time. And this feels like an anchor back to the normal world to me.
So yeah. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If you’re under quarantine, just keep in mind that even though you’re alone, you’re also kind of not.
You’ll hear from me if anything changes.10