Stay at home Armageddon
My last post was written with one audience in mind: those who enjoy the privilege of staying home for however long it takes to wait out the worst of the virus. The word “privilege” has gotten a bit of misuse as of late, but I chose this word deliberately because it also conveys “freedom”, “opportunity”, and “benefit”.
Personally, I am afforded the freedom to stay at home by virtue of my job. They equipped me with the tools that I need to work from home, and they keep paying me. The obvious expectation is that I stay home. But if my family and I did not leave the house for three weeks, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have, we’d run out of the supplies we need for everyday life. So, we pull up the grocery delivery service app, shop online, and schedule a delivery time. The next part is fascinating. Like clean laundry and clean dishes, fresh groceries materialize on my front door step, as if by magic! Even my mail appears in the mailbox, and my trash bin gets emptied like a magician’s hat. This social distancing thing is pretty nifty, huh?
Well… I guess that depends on where you’re sitting. (Before we go on, if you aren’t familiar with my writing style, I enjoy irony as a means to draw out contrasts. Sitting at home and having your life suddenly reorganized for you without warning and without your input is pretty darned disruptive. Some will fair better than others with this isolation, and some may need some serious therapy after the fact. The main point of this is to say, that for those who can stay at home, we have an opportunity to normalize the situation in relative safety. Also, I am very open about my struggles with mental health; as a society, we gloss over these issues and it is time to destigmatize them.) There are many people that, for a variety of circumstances, are not able to stay home. In fact, it is the same people that still have to work outside of their home that make the "magic" happen for the homesteaded doomsday warriors.
A Matter of Perspective
Shortly after posting the 3-tips to Cope article, my wife dragged me out to Lowe's. One of my PA friends said that the best way to avoid the virus is to assume that everyone is carrying it.
I deal with combat-related PTSD, anxiety, depression with a not-so-healthy dose of alcohol-use disorder (which was also the inspiration for Small V;ctories). Part of dealing with combat-trauma is managing the fight or flight response that gets permanently thrown out of whack by being on guard against threats for a prolonged period of time. So, what was once a routine trip to the home-improvement store, now suddenly felt like a combat patrol in my home town because of the perception of threat.
It might go without saying, that I had difficulty managing my anxiety. When we got home, I retreated to my Fortress of Solitude, and realized that I am just as happy staying at home; but by that same token, it is really hard on my wife. And while I hunker down at home, there are regular folks that are keeping the lights of society burning, and others fighting in the trenches of the pandemic. Some appear unaffected by the turmoil swirling around them. Others, like many of my friends in the medical field and working in hospitals, are struggling.
It took me about to this point to understand what this post is really about. Here it is: experiences with the pandemic will vary greatly, but almost everyone will struggle in some way whether it is from the isolation, the financial hardships, or the first-hand witnessing of the human toll of SARS-CoV2. Aside from the people that will bear the burden of the physical costs of the disease, nearly all of us will pay a mental toll.
Since this is starting to run long, we'll break this into a separate post. The theme for Part II will be discussing the heroes of the frontline (medical caregivers and first responders), the unsung heroes (cashiers, postal workers, truck drivers, etc.), business owners and the stay-at-homers, and how a little bit of empathy can go a long way.
Eventually... we may even talk about coffee again.