The Quarantine Diaries

A PREFACE

While on vacation with my parents in Hawaii in late February 2020, we toured Iolani Palace. In true tourist fashion, I walked around with my backpack strapped in the front because those were the rules and ya girl is a type-A rule follower. We took the service elevator to the 2nd floor. In that elevator, while I didn’t recognize the impact in that moment, I had officially seen my first Coronavirus propaganda posted. I think my dad took a photo. Jokes were had.

Prior to vacation, the reports of COVID-19 were minimal, I think. Or at least minimal to me. I wasn’t worried about my vacation being cancelled like I would have been had we booked it just a few weeks later and I definitely wasn’t worried about my health. Like many, I was likely in denial of what would soon become a world-wide pandemic.

In the weeks following our return, the news about COVID-19 seemed to double over each day if not triple. No one knew what they were talking about. Medical professionals opinions varied, no one knew which news outlet to trust, people probably still don’t.. you get the picture. 

Government on the local, regional, national, and even global level didn’t know what the eff they were talking about and if you’re reading this post mid-2020 or later, bets are we still don’t know what tf is up. I mean, for good reason I guess. I don’t have the Golden Book of knowledge either but whoever does probably didn’t plan for a 21st century worldwide pandemic. Hello, God? 

I’m writing the preface of this post on Friday, May 1st. I live in North Dakota, one of two states (I think) that didn’t actually mandate a stay-in-place order. Yet. Though, we might as well have. Everything, like all the other states, have been mostly closed or if they are operating, they are open for curbside only services. Life is thy halted as the great W. Shake would say. 

Apparently, Doug B, our governor, “opened” up the state effective today. Whatever that means. Even though it wasn’t closed to begin with, right? But okay. That really means nothing to me. I don’t have any immediate plans to spread my wings quite yet; something you’ll likely learn if you dare read this entire post. 

I recently listened to an episode of Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. She interviewed David Kessler on grief and finding meaning. Boy, that episode hit.my.feels. I’ve gone through many stages of grief since the start of the ‘rona. Stages that I’ve only processed once before in life but on much different grounds. 

And this, my friends, is a record of that grief in a social media-esque post-type format. Enjoy.

MARCH MADNESS aka WTF is happening?

  • 3/2: I washed my hands today. Did you?
  • 3/12: Trying to decide if I should go to the store just to take my own photo of an empty TP shelf or if I should hang tight at home with my Costco bulk pack I bought 3 months ago..
  • 3/13: I actually do need to go to the store for a normal amount of food but I’m afraid nothing will be there because people are freaking TF out. Dominos for dayz, I guess.
  • 3/14: Seriously considering booking a trip back to the wonderful, warm, and wild island of Oahu for $298 round trip. Why is everyone freaking out still?
  • 3/15: According to all these graphs, literally every person on the planet needs to get COVID-19 before it goes away. Accurate? Asking for a friend.
  • 3/16: At what point are they going to address the mental health side effects of a forced quarantine? My work is encouraging us to work from home and I live alone. The CDC is recommending social distancing for up to 8 weeks, maybe longer. Public events, church, and businesses are closing. That amount of isolation makes me want to contract the virus just to get it over with.
  • 3/20: Have you thanked a trucker today? They’re busy being the real MVP’s while you’re sitting at home freaking out over which roll of TP to use first. Jokes aside, people all across our nation, including my dad, aren’t offered the “luxury” of social distancing or sheltering in place. They are on the front lines of restocking all the Lysol you were panic buying, making sure hospitals have hand sanitizer, and I’m sure are ready and waiting when they figure out the ventilator shortage situation. Keep them in mind when you’re three hours deep on an apocalypse Netflix binge because many of them fall into the “vulnerable” class COVID-19 is after and they can’t do much about it.
  • 3/21: Day 1 of isolation. Most of the team/office is working from home this week but I didn’t give in. I worked from home on Thursday just because but went in yesterday. I’m not going to work from home. I really don’t get what the appeal is. This is being blown out of proportion.
  • 3/22: Day 2 of isolation. I only tuned into this press conference because I thought something new was going to be announced. I don’t want to hear about the 856,934,540 surgical gowns that were delivered. Save the stats for infographics, Mr. President.
  • 3/23: Day 3 of isolation. It’s PSA Time: In regards to local news and media, the more “views” we get does not mean our journalists get paid more. We’re actually losing money in relation to this specific topic. We have a paywall on our websites (that generates revenue, yes) however, due to this “crisis,” we removed our paywall for all COVID related content as a public service. On top of that, many advertisers are cancelling campaigns. We are losing money, not making money just like the rest of the country. Also, true and reputable news outlets are not blowing things out of proportion. Naïve Facebook users that don’t check sources and blindly share “fake news” articles are the ones blowing it out of proportion. Don’t hate on legit journalists or question their morality. They are keeping you informed, damnit.
  • 3/24: Day 4 of isolation. I brought my computer home over the weekend. If everyone else is working from home, I suppose I will too. It’ll be too quiet in the office. Though, it’ll be too quiet at home too. Which is worse? A quiet small space or a quiet large space? My grow group met online for the first time tonight. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend even though that makes no sense.
  • 3/25: Day 5 of isolation. I don’t like working from home with my laptop so I went in to get my entire set up; monitors and all. There are few people in the 5.5 floor building. I briefly visited with a couple colleagues as I gathered my things. They were the first people I’d interacted with from a distance in nearly a week. It wasn’t natural and I felt distantly weird. Also, apparently liquor stores are considered “essential.” I don’t think so but, whatever.
  • 3/26: Day 6 of isolation. This week in solitude, I’ve ordered an embroidery kit, polyhedral dice set, a D& D for beginners handbook, mini clothes pins, a record player shelf, and a cat condo plus some other shit. Quarantine is going to drain my bank account.
  • 3/27: Day 7 of isolation. First breakdown. I’m a sensitive person by nature but even more so when left to my own devices. Other than a brief interaction on Wednesday, I haven’t seen anyone in a week and I’m beginning to feel the effects of no human interaction. A small remark from a co-worker via chat set me crying off and on the entire evening. Between controlled breaths trying to calm myself down, I was reminded of how this old post feels, felt, does feel now.
  • 3/28: Day 8 of isolation. I needed groceries so I went to Walmart. I stayed clear of people as advised. It was weird, I felt weird. It was like I was in a film where you’re all alone and the world is moving around you. I was so excited to go to the store after being held up in my home for a week. I haven’t showered in a few days, that’s not good. But I am doing better emotionally today. The only noticeable change in the world was at self-checkout. The cashiers wiped down the register between people. No one is wearing masks. This all still seems so ridiculous. Is this just an inside joke that I wasn’t included in on? On a positive note, I exercised and ate well ALL WEEK. Today is my cheat day.
  • 3/29: Day 9 of isolation. Tested positive for perpetually sad.
  • 3/30: Day 10 of isolation. Therapy today via webinar. I’ve only been going to therapy for a couple weeks and this was the first one online. I like my therapist just fine. It went well and I feel a bit better but I wish she was there when I really needed someone over the weekend.
  • 3/31: Day 11 of isolation. A thread I needed to see today. Maybe you do too?

APRIL SHOWERS aka Girl, I’m an emotional wreck.

  • 4/1: Day 12 of isolation. Thank you, Twitter for analyzing my data and serving me this story. How to cope with social isolation if you live alone. Also, I miss my parents.
  • 4/2: Day 13 of isolation. Virtual happy hour catch up with Josie and April. I remember the last time we visited IRL and I really really just wish we could do that again.
  • 4/3: Day 14 of isolation. Breakdown number 2; major. My mood has been so good. I’m doing great with food and exercise. I’m staying busy with projects and not letting myself get down by the lack of people in the physical form in my life. Why am I so sad? Is all that I’m doing just a mask to avoid addressing the things in life that hurt? I’m so lonely and I haven’t showered. I haven’t even pulled the shades to know what the weather is like. Work is fine but business doesn’t fix sadness. Social media isn’t helping. I feel like I can’t breathe.
  • 4/4: Day 15 of isolation. These are the things I’m thinking of rn..
  • 4/5: Day 16 of isolation. I slept until noon today. I have no reason to be awake. If I sleep longer, maybe this nightmare will end. I have been an emotionally paralyzed ball of tears since the better part of Friday through today. I don’t know how to fix this. My niece Duo’d me, that’s what got me up. The call was short. She’s a busy and imaginative girl. My mom said in the background that I’m lazy (for waking up at noon). I held my composure until Emma hung up and as soon as she did, cue the tears. My mom called a few minutes later. She could hear that i wasn’t doing well, I’m sure my voice was shaky. When I told her the isolation is getting to me, she told me that I’m brainwashed. Call ended. God, my heart hurts. My mom is my best friend in life and all I need right now is her comfort. Where do I go when the only safe person doesn’t feel safe? My brother Nick texted shortly after that call and asked if i would come visit (I found out later, that my youngest brother, Logan, had called Nick.) I ignored his message and the next one. I don’t want pity. I don’t want him to feel like he has to check on me because I’m weak or broken. I’m stronger than this. But, I just want someone to hear me. He then called after awhile of disregarding his message. i agreed to come to his house after he told me I needed to get out of the house. My mental health is more important than my physical health or the possibility of ‘rona. I cried as soon as I saw him. I hadn’t seen anyone in so long and for the first time in weeks, I felt like I might be able to make it out of this loneliness. I don’t know how, but they made me feel better. We ate BDubs and played video games. I felt okay. Praise Jesus for my brothers, seriously. I might sometimes put the responsibility of making sure our family is a functioning unit but I know my brothers will always be there to pick me up if I need it.
  • 4/6: Day 17 of social distancing. Why did a tiger get tested for COVID when there aren’t enough tests available for humans?
  • 4/7: Day 18 of social distancing. Virtual happy hour with the work crew + Leah which is still basically the work crew before she abandoned us pre-Covid.
  • 4/8: Day 19 of social distancing. Breathe. It’s going to be okay.
  • 4/9: Day 20 of social distancing. I don’t think it’s that funny that people’s biggest quarantine fear is that they’ll get fat. Welcome to the fucking club, Karen.
  • 4/10: Day 21 of social distancing. This week was garbage in terms of being motivated. My food wasn’t great and I didn’t exercise. I blame my period. I’m doing better emotionally though. I’m still crying daily over stupid things. It’s not that I can’t be alone but I don’t want to be alone. I don’t know anyone like me. Everyone in my life has at least one of the following: a roommate, a spouse, or a family member living with them. A roommate gives you some sense of “I’m not alone.” It has to. To know that someone else lives in your home and at the very least, you can quarantine together. A spouse whether you live with them or not gives you a companion, a confidant. Someone that you can be like “wtf and also, I need love. I’m at 20%, can you please help fulfill the 80%?” And, a family. The families, I think, hurt my heart the most and this is why I need to ditch social media.. I get that having to homeschool kids AND juggle work is a feat that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Parents curse their children and wish they could just scream until this all goes away. But all I can think is “I would give ANYTHING to be in your position.” I would give all the things in my life and money in my bank account to be stressed to the point of exhaustion. To have a mini that I can create history with and mold. To have a legacy and a family to care for at the end of the day. I know. I know we think the grass is always greener and I know some would give anything to be a single 30-year-old apartment dweller. I get it. But trust me guys, literal loneliness is nothing to wish for. Ever. And if you really did wish for it, that math tells me you regret having children and for the sake of those little souls, I hope that you wouldn’t regret such a miracle. I’ll step down from my soapbox now.
  • 4/11: Day 22 of social distancing. My mom admittingly isn’t a “feels” person but I’d like to think she tried to put herself in my shoes over the last week. She sent me a couple of care packages throughout the week; tulip bulbs ready to bloom, a teddy bear with a poem about feeling alone in the world and a few beautiful pieces of art by Emma. Katie invited me over to do nails. We’ve been getting dips done professionally since July of last year and I’m nervous to figure out how to take them off ourselves since the salons haven’t been open. Today was the first day since 3/18 that I wore real clothing (not PJ’s or loungewear) and I feel good. Like, I might actually survive this situational depression. Updates: My nails are brittle and I gained any weight that I lost the previous 2 weeks this week.
  • 4/12: Day 23 of social distancing. Today is Easter. I’m visualizing any episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine where Andy Samberg’s character says “cool cool cool cool.” That’s me pretending not celebrating a holiday with my family is NBD whilst a Papa John’s pizza deep as two cats and a half empty bag of chocolate chips sits next to me. Also, I forever can’t sleep. My mind doesn’t rest and I feel too lonely to cry.
  • 4/13: Day 24 of social distancing. I cancelled my therapy appointment today. I don’t think it’s helping in the way that I need right now.
  • 4/15: Day 26 of social distancing. Last minute virtual happy hour with co-workers. I miss them so much.
  • 4/16: Day 27 of social distancing. I started intermediate fasting a couple days ago. I still need to do more reading on it but I need to try something. I’m finally feeling actually okay emotionally. I’m still keeping busy but I’m trying to hone in on my emotional well-being. I want to come out of all this a better, more authentic version of myself. Throughout my life, I’ve become an expert at masking; molding myself to those around me. To the point that I don’t really know what makes me, me. I want to use this quarantine for good. To find meaning in who I am. I started to teach myself embroidery this week. Mom invited me to come home this weekend. I don’t know what to do. Can I? Is it appropriate? I don’t want to be shunned by the population. But I did visit Nick last week when I was at my breaking point of sadness and I need my people. I don’t know what to do. Stimulus check is in and it’s also payday.
  • 4/17: Day 28 of social distancing. Nick and Katie came over to visit tonight. I’m going to visit them tomorrow. My heart feels like it’ll be okay.
  • 4/18: Day 29 of social distancing. If all of this lasts into June and beyond, I’m going to need to figure out some social distancing-esque solo travel options because my mental health is more important than my physical health. Fight me.
  • 4/19: Day 30 of social distancing. I’ve been looking for disinfectant spray and/or wipes for 5 weeks and still haven’t found any. FIVE WEEKS. I hope all these selfish hoarders aren’t just letting it sit in their rat infested garages. I’ll be PIST.
  • 4/20: Day 31 of social distancing. Once we’re allowed to resume our daily lives and social gatherings, everyone is going to flock together to preserve the little sanity we have left and get sick because we’ll be reintroduced to new germs after being isolated for so long. Not COVID-sick, just sick. I’m 100% certain that I was raised in a “germs are good” environment. We played in the dirt, probably tried dog food, were forced into chickenpox and now we’re forced into living in the stale recycled air of our homes. Interacting with anyone is going to make my newly weakened immune system go nuts. Where my docs at, tho? Has this been looked into? It only seems like Human Bodies 101 that lack of contact with other humans will naturally weaken immune systems. But what do I know?
  • 4/22: Day 33 of whatever this is. Kristie stopped by with lunch today. My heart feels full.
  • 4/24: Day 35 of whatever this is. I went home home today, to my parents house in Viking. I got to see my best friend, Emma bean. We made homemade playdough and I know life will be okay no matter how weird this year is because at the end of the day all I really need is my family. They are happy and healthy and safe.
  • 4/30: Day 33 of whatever this is. I went to the office and nearly cried. I only saw three people but I loved every second of it and couldn’t stand not giving them hugs.

MAY FLOWERS aka Finally, some clarity & meaning.

  • 5/2: Kind hearts have me in my feels today.
  • 5/3: I can’t find the source but I read something earlier that hit different: The worst thing about all of this is that some people will come out of it unchanged.
  • 5/4: The last couple of “work weeks” (Mon-Fri) have been really great. I’m acing this intermediate fasting thing. I’m getting outside and going for walks. I went for two long walks on Wednesday and have a weird amount of untapped energy. Who is this girl?
  • 5/8: Visited Kristie today and met her granddaughter Amelia! She’s so frickin’ sweet!
  • 5/20: Dentist appointment today. It’s been cancelled and rescheduled a handful of times due to all this stuff. They checked my temp when I walked in.
  • 5/24: I went to the dentist 4 days ago and my mouth is still so sore; not from the work done, just from my mouth being open. My theory is because I don’t talk out loud as often anymore, that this is why. Exercise your jaws people or going to the dentist will suck more than usual.
  • 5/25: Feeling down today and stayed in bed until almost 1 feeling sorry for myself; I want to eat my feelings by the way of junk food and pizza. Instead, I’m going to read outside to get vitamin D through the clouds and fuel my body with healthy foods to help combat this loneliness.
  • 5/27: Week whatever it is, I’ve lost count: Still cannot find Lysol spray or Clorox wipes anywhere locally or online. But, I’m still alive.
  • 5/28: Hands up if you passed your hardest moments alone while everyone believed you were fine. Because, same.

IN CONCLUSION

This is an ending to a story that goes on and on. I’m in a much better place now than in the early days of the pandemic. I’m healthy, I haven’t contracted C-19 or needed to test yet. I didn’t do all the right things or take the right steps. I should have spent time in therapy throughout the worst of times to try and avoid or at least constructively work through the sadness I felt. But, in the moment, I think I just wanted to feel sadness because it was better than the loneliness. Today, I’m counting my blessings and want to leave you with this piece of advice from a legendary comedian and human:

“I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” – Jim Carrey

I don’t know what’s next or how this will end. Or if it’ll end but we’ve entered a stage of #NewNormal and I think we’re going to have to get TF on or get TF out.

Thanks for reading.