My emotional world has started to close in on me. It is as if my smaller physical world is nagging at my mind, telling it to come along: “you can be small, too. Let’s get small, feel small, and forget about all the love out there. Just think about the doom and how powerless you feel alone and in your virtual world. Compare your measly accomplishments to others and feel the smallness!” I am fighting quarantine exhaustion, and I hope to beat it.
At first I FaceTimed and exercised every day, had different national and international taiko zoom meetings, and reached out to others to connect. I encouraged my family to do special family outings in the parks or to play games. Charades anyone? This was pandemic inventive! Games or family activities every day. Additionally, I wrote, and I worked on my dream. Basically, I took charge of the situation, knowing what I needed for my emotional health.
I so appreciated seeing people’s faces. Having conversations and hearing voices felt wonderful! I loved connecting on FaceBook with my friends. I felt strong, in shape, and as though I could get through this, despite not knowing how long it would be until I could play music or drink coffee with friends.
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But after a few weeks, I got tired. I started to feel more withdrawn. Quarantine exhaustion felt real. It was as if the anxiety of the pandemic and staying at home was gnawing at me more and more. It was tugging at me to stay in bed and binge watch Game of Thrones. Once, during a zoom meeting with mostly European, but also a few North American drummers there was a chance when the formal topic ended to just talk. But after only a few minutes I wanted to leave. I didn’t understand why, because I liked to hear what these people were saying – some of them were wonderful friends I was close with.
Of course, I googled to investigate why I didn’t feel as connected as I felt I should, even though it also seemed obvious. Without any great insight it seems natural that true connection for humans comes from being together physically. Plus, I had spent the last ten years of my life working on becoming more social. By the time of the pandemic, I drummed with friends two to three times a week. I volunteered most weeks and exercised with a friend fairly regularly. I went to movies, book club, lunch, and other events. Being a writer and a home-business owner, as my children had grown, I had needed to do this for my well-being.
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During the second half of April, I realized I was slowly sliding into the darkness, despite feeling grateful for me and my family’s health and well-being. Over the years I have learned that being grateful for one’s circumstances is not enough to feel content. It doesn’t mean I feel guilty for my circumstances. It means I believe humans or at least that I was meant for more connection. I needed more face-to-face conversations and more accomplishment.
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My old reality and my dreams and goals from just a two months ago seemed so far away. It felt harder and harder to work on them and to remember that this too shall pass. It was hard to remember that maybe I’m not heading toward death and destruction and grief. I felt and have been feeling small and powerless. Furthermore, I am angry at Schleich and Amazon.com who, with their economic bullying are taking away so much of my income. No matter what I write to them, they do not care. I feel angry at all the corporations and greed and at our incompetent and immoral politicians and their supporters. I was starting to feel I will never accomplish my dreams. Of course, logically, this didn’t make sense: the pandemic will end at some point.
Still, as a survivor of patriarchy and too many bad things that can happen to young people, feeling angry and powerless is a familiar, deep-seeded feeling. I know it has the power to bring me down into a darkness I haven’t visited for a long while. So, before I slip too deeply…
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I woke up realizing it is Prince’s death anniversary, and I decided that I was going to feel differently. As I wrote this essay, I sat looking out the window by my bed.
I wanted to write, to believe, and to tell you that we can get through this. I can get through this. If I can get through this, so can you. Please join me in believing that this pandemic will end without the entire world dying. Join me in believing we can have large gatherings with lots of human connection and interaction. As we shelter-at-home and feel grateful for those who are risking their lives for us, know we are doing the right thing for the greater good. Know that we will persevere, that you and I have inner strength and wisdom and love that we and the world needs.
I want to beat quarantine exhaustion
So, today I will wear some purple.
Today I will do something with my hair.
I will work a little on my dream, even if for just ten minutes.
Today I will call a friend.
Today I will express to someone, somehow my true feelings.
And I will step outside and look up to the sky. I will breath in and feel my inner power and wisdom and the connection I have to the great universe.
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On top of our daily work, if we can also take a few minutes every day to do some of these positive things or to do as many of them as we can fit in, then I know we can get through this. I know I can. No matter how much time each of us has left on this earth, we can spend it knowing that we can make a difference in ourselves and in those around us, even if we are stuck at home for the duration of the pandemic. We can find meaning in our circumstances and beat quarantine exhaustion.
So, I ask you to look out your window, step out your door, or just look to the ceiling. Imagine a – or look to the – big beautiful sky. See how big you can become, feel how much wisdom and love you have inside yourself. Know you can share this love and spread it and help heal the world. Know too, that all love given returns. The positive energy you send out today and every day will help others and yourself as well.
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Let’s beat quarantine exhaustion!
Note from September 8, 2020: Of course, if any of you read through all my essays, you will see, I was unable to beat quarantine exhaustion. I tried my darnedest. But I was facing a lot. To me, the most important was that I saw where I was. I was honest with my kids who checked in on me. I asked my doctor for help. Within a week, I was doing so much better. I am grateful to friends, my kids, doctors, and the universe for helping me through that difficult time.