The date is March 18, 2020. My country and province has been in self-isolation (one step away from full quarantine) since March 13, 2020 – a full week just about. In that time, the government has enacted a Declaration of Emergency.
It means this:
The province has enacted a Declaration of Emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.As a result, the following establishments are required to close immediately:
- All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout and food delivery
- All facilities providing indoor recreational programs
- All public libraries
- All private schools
- All licensed child care centers
- All movie cinemas
- All theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms
- All concert venues
Additionally, all organised public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship. These orders remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures.
SOURCE: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus (namely, this section: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-1 )
So there’s that. What there also is, and anyone who isn’t Jared-Leto-on-a-12-day-meditation and living under a rock, knows of the selfish spring breakers who flocked to beaches in Florida as well as people flocking to bars/pubs during St Patty’s Day. It blows my mind to see how ignorant and selfish others can be, and then to post it online. I’m not one for naming/shaming/calling others out however now? If you’re out there “flexing” on social media that you’re a Big Bad Rebel and not listening to the WHO, CDC and government officials telling you to self isolate, stay the fuck home, etc then you are a selfish, ignorant asshole.
But I’m not actually here to shame – I want to talk about some of the positives I’m finding throughout this pandemic.
This year alone has been tough. I lost my papa to pancreatic cancer on January 28, and I wasn’t anywhere near as prepared as I thought I would be for the anguish and grief I felt during the funeral, procession, burial and the celebration of life afterwards. Despite being immediate family (he was my uncle and my mother’s dad), I had been cut out of the family for quite some time. We hadn’t spoken in years but seeing him, withered away to 80lbs and yellow, translucent skin just did it for me. Cancer literally rotted him from the inside out and took his weight (he wasn’t overweight but always alcohol-bloated from drinking), his skin colour, his hair, and everything and turned him into a frail old man.
I lost my online friend Becki to her triple negative stage 4 breast cancer – 21 months (655 days) after she was diagnosed – on March 13, and that was just as the whole COVID-19 bit was really gaining a foothold outside of Italy and mainland China. Suddenly it was everywhere. Prior to all of this, I lost one of my best friends in January – two weeks before my papa passed.
I was processing a lot of grief before COVID-19 shut down my city and I was suddenly cut off from the only mental healthcare services I have.
As someone who has a host of anxiety disorders, I have to agree with the meme that says those of us with anxiety have actually been the most calm out of everyone in this whole pandemic. In a way, we truly have been preparing for this our whole lives and those of us who are also in varying degrees of social isolation for various reasons, are the least likely to go stir crazy and have issues during this self isolation/quarantine time.
I can say that it hasn’t all been calmness for me. I’ve been dealing with grief and also trying to get my life back together after depression threw it completely under the bus. I’m trying my best and I felt completely out of control of my life and thoughts and emotions. Then, suddenly, the past weekend happened and while I was crying about not having toilet paper (literally ran out the day everyone panic!bought it) and then crying about not having groceries on Monday, because there weren’t any gluten free options left at the grocery store and despite all of that, and how low I felt… I finally feel as if I have some control, while the entire world is spinning off into chaos.
Here’s some of the things I feel I’ve control over, and some of the things I’ve learned over the past seven days that are helping me immensely.
Mind Over Matter.
Us mentally ill hate hate hate this phrase with a white-hot passion, however, it’s true for self isolation and quarantine. Yeah you are probably super stressed and bored and wondering, after one week, how am I going to last two weeks or a month or longer?! Well, let me tell you my tricks but first, “mind over matter” is just that: while you’re feeling antsy and restless and as if you need to go out, just think of this period as the time during the Christmas holidays where nothing is open and there’s no where to go. You don’t need to go anywhere (unless you need food, medical items, prescriptions etc) you just feel like you do because you’re being told you cannot.
What you tell yourself is ultimately what you will believe. Don’t blame influencers and other shit right now. YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOU. I wish this worked for my mental illnesses but it doesn’t. However, it works for being cooped up at home and wishing you were out.
Even if you don’t have contact with anyone that has COVID-19, you could still be an asymptomatic carrier and thus, put others at risk without realising it. So think about the risk and whether or not you can live with being selfish, ignorant and risking the lives of those vulnerable to the illness.
I see this is the easiest one. I reckon you don’t believe me, but it’s true. Restlessness is the hardest one, but boredom is the true decimation here. So here’s some tips to not be bored while in self isolation and/or mandatory quarantine:
Limit TV/movie-watching and gaming until the evening/night. If you can do other things in day light, do them! I’m working on my journals, I’m reading books, I’m putting together little knock-off LEGO sets from the dollarstore and working on special interests and other hobbies from the time I wake up, until the evening (my sleep schedule permitting).
In the evening, when I can no longer work by daylight (around 7:30p EST), I put a light on and wind down on those daytime activities. Then, I get into my evening routine – which generally includes more screen time. I’ll watch some episodes of one of the shows I’m trying to get through right now, or work through some movies on my Netflix queue. I’ll do my Red Dead Redemption 2 Online dailies.
The whole point of this is that, if you just watch a screen all day you will end up in The Pit and then you’ll never come out of it. Suddenly the endless Netflix catalogue will be boring. Video games will be boring. You’ll be too restless to sit and enjoy a book or write. So use screen time like this as a way to wind down in the evenings and during the day, do different things.
I’ve been keeping a quarantine journal outside of my daily journal, and I’ll go into that in a separate post. As well, if you start to get bored of anything you are doing: STOP IMMEDIATELY AND SWITCH TO SOMETHING ELSE. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! The absolute last thing you want is to be bored of anything. That includes food. While options may be limited right now, try to change it up even just a tiny bit, so that you do not become bored. Take it from someone who could only live on gluten free noodles for six months. I was fucking done with that shit for awhile.
Keep Social While Social Distancing.
Social distancing basically just means, stay inside unless absolutely necessary and keep a few feet away from others. You don’t have to become a complete hermit to do this. You can still keep in touch with people through text messages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I recommend video or voice chatting with a few close friends (either separately or in conference/group calling, your choice) at least every other day, if not once daily. If I don’t have the spoons for that, I’ll converse in short voice clips with my friends, and that helps you feel less alone since you’re hearing a voice.
I’ve also been keeping vlogs on my Instagram account and letting people into my daily life so they can see that they’re not the only ones sitting at home and struggling to keep themselves entertained and from going stir-crazy.
Check In On The Vulnerable.
This one is important. Check in on your friends who may not have access to a cellphone, computer, tablet or social media. Check in on your elderly family members who might not be able to congregate with other members of their care home due to quarantine and may not be able to have visitors right now. Keep in contact with your chronically ill friends and your mentally ill friends. Check in on others, because likely they’re struggling as well right now.
Keep The News To A Minimum.
I’m limiting my news sources to three: one for the US/world, two for Canada. I’m also taking information from government websites for my province and country, as well as WHO and the CDC. I don’t look at the news for the first two hours I’m awake in the morning, and I only check it three times a day: when I’ve done my two hours of waking up and want to update my quarantine journal in the am; sometime in the mid afternoon while I’m snacking or having lunch; and again in the evening but NOT BEFORE BEDTIME.
I’m doing this to keep myself from becoming engulfed in all that’s happening right now, because it is very easy to become overwhelmed and freaked out. In my entire 30-something years alive, I cannot remember a single time we ever were in a world-wide pandemic of this nature. I lived through SARS, MERS, H1N1 (which I contracted), Ebola and Zika. I remember the fear I carried after the Oklahoma City bombing and again during 9/11. But nothing comes close to the fear and uncertainty from COVID-19. I don’t know if the world has ever had anything this bad in the last several decades as our health care has been rather good.
It’s terrifying to not know how long this will last, what – if any – parts of our lives will return to normal and when. Most of our lives will be changed permanently after this and there are quite a few things we’re dealing with right now that will likely become a permanent way of living for us all. It’s difficult, but together we can do it, we just have to listen to the damn rules for once.
Now is not the time to fly off the coop with conspiracies that this is a government-made virus to control us or some other nonsense. Keep up to date on factual information from reliable sources and don’t be selfish, ignorant or a horrible person. In the years to come, we will be remembered for what we didn’t do, and how we reacted to this. If you were a selfish person who dropped hundreds or thousands of dollars on products and items you did not need during the panic shopping everyone did last week, you’ll be remembered for that. For those who helped others who had nothing, you’ll be remembered for that.
Think of how you want to be remembered and think of how easily fear and anger are spread during times like this. Don’t be a sheep but do the opposite of what the herd is doing: don’t react with anger, hostility, ignorance, selfishness, fear, racism. React with kindness. We’re all humans. We’re all equally vulnerable to this illness.
If we have any hope of getting through it, it’s to do it together.