Shelter-at-home Fatigue and How to Beat it

My emotional world has started to close in on me, as if my smaller physical world was nagging at my mind, telling it to come along – “you can be small, too. This will never end. 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!”

At first I FaceTimed and exercised every day, had different national and international taiko zoom meetings, reached out to others to connect, plus I encouraged my family to do special family outings in the parks or to play games. I even tried to get them to play charades! I wrote, and I worked on my dream. I basically took the bull by the horns (or whatever that saying is) and took charge of the situation, knowing what I needed for my emotional health.

I so appreciated seeing people’s faces. I loved having conversations and hearing voices. I loved connecting on FaceBook with my friends. I felt strong, in shape, and as though I could get through this, even though I had no idea how long it would be until I could play music or drink coffee with friends.

But after a few weeks, I got tired. I started to feel more withdrawn, as if the anxiety of the pandemic and staying at home was gnawing at me more and more, tugging at me to stay in bed and binge watch Game of Thrones. Once, during a zoom meeting there was a chance when the formal topic ended to just talk, and after only a few minutes I wanted to “leave the meeting.” I didn’t understand why though, 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 theory or insight it seems natural to understand that for some reason 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, so that by the time of the pandemic I was drumming two to three times a week with friends, volunteering once a week, exercising with another friend fairly regularly, going to movies, book club, lunch, or other social events. Being a writer and a home-business owner, as my children had grown, I had needed to do this for my well-being.

So, I realized I was slowly sliding into the darkness during the second half of April, despite feeling grateful for my well-being, my family’s safety, etc. etc. Being grateful for one’s circumstances I have learned over the years is not enough to feel good. It doesn’t mean I feel guilty for my circumstances. It just means that I believe humans or at least that I was meant for more connection, more accomplishment, more face-to-face conversations, and more than what I had been doing so far with my life.

My old reality, my dreams and goals from just a two months ago seemed so far away. It felt harder and harder to keep working on them and to remember that this too shall pass, that maybe I’m not heading toward death and destruction and grief. I felt and have been feeling small and powerless. I am angry at Schleich and Amazon.com who, with their economic bullying are taking away so much of my income. I am angry that 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, even though logically this didn’t make sense, because of course the pandemic has to end at some point.

But as a survivor of patriarchy and so many of the 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….

I woke up realizing it is Prince’s death anniversary, and I decided that I was going to feel differently. I sat looking out the window by my bed and wrote this essay.

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 by staying at home. And know that we will persevere, that you and I have inner strength and wisdom and love that we and the world needs.

So, today I will wear some purple.

Today I will do something with my hair.

Today 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.

Today I will step outside and look up to the sky, breath in and feel the connection I have to the great universe and feel my own inner power and wisdom.

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 can be spent knowing that we can make a difference in ourselves and in those around us, even if we are stuck at home.

So, look out your window, step our your door, or just look to the ceiling. Imagine a – or look to the – big beautiful sky and see how big you can become, feel how much wisdom you have inside yourself, feel the love you have inside of you and 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.

This essay came to me upon waking and realizing it was Prince’s death anniversary. I wrote it looking out the window, sometimes with one of my cats near my side. Today I gain strength knowing that in the time I have left on this earth, I can make a difference for myself, my family, and the world. My dreams will materialize because I can work on them bit by bit and because I can make a difference. My heart goes out to all of you also having a difficult time during this pandemic.

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