Author: Ken Fitzgerald
I am healthy. I am able to work from home, my law firm is still in business, and nobody in my family has contracted the coronavirus. I live in a beautiful town with great weather, where it is easy for me to get outside and run, bike, or walk. I am incredibly lucky.
But like most people, while staying at home, I spend a great deal of time online, checking the news, looking at Facebook, and engaging through social media. Trying to stay upbeat, I’ve seen and shared music-from-the balcony videos, along with positive messages encouraging folks to exercise, cook, and savor time with their families, and I’ve laughed at and shared many clever Tiger King memes.
I have wanted to be positive and productive and helpful, but honestly, I’ve mostly been feeling lousy and drinking more. I wake up nearly every night in the wee hours for no apparent reason, and have trouble falling back to sleep. Staying focused on work is difficult. Everything is different, and nothing feels quite right. Beloved comedians Stephen Colbert and John Oliver broadcast from their homes, without live audiences and audible laughter, so their jokes don’t land. Our 401K balances fall dramatically, the market gyrates, and the only economic opportunities seem to be in getting government money to soften the blow. While locals in my beach community debate whether the beach should be closed, stories have surfaced about people with COVID-19 going out in public, with calls for them to be publicly identified and turned into the police.
Every day, the case count rises and the death toll mounts.
It’s a lot.
I’ve never been one to air my personal struggles publicly, and I was raised in an Irish family where toughing things out was the goal. But I write to reveal what I’m feeling, because I suspect many if not most people in this crisis are experiencing similar things: dread, sadness, lethargy, hopelessness, impatience, frustration, anger, depression, insomnia, and loneliness. More than anything, and because there is no end in sight, I feel a loss of the sense of possibility.
I don’t have the virus and I am fortunate beyond measure, so I have no real right to feel rotten. But honestly, I do. I feel down, then I feel guilty about feeling down, then I feel ashamed about feeling guilty, because I should be counting my blessings. And yet, the doldrums just won’t leave. Is it cocktail hour yet?
We’re all in this together in many ways. Our survival depends on each one of us doing our part by staying home and social distancing. But we’re also going through a tough time together psychologically, even if we have the food and health and toilet paper we need.
Love your neighbors and give them a wave when you see them from afar. They feel isolated and rotten I bet, even if they don’t show it or want to admit it. I admit it, even while knowing how fortunate I am. I would like to think that every little connection we share will help, including connections over how we are really feeling. Case in point: writing this made me feel better. I hope that reading it helped you.
-Words above and video below courtesy of Ken Fitzgerald.