This is not normal by any stretch of the imagination. Nobody expected this and no one was prepared to endure it.
Even the most introverted people are not used to being forced into this level of social distancing and isolation. People are scared, uncertain, distressed, confused, concerned, and generally lost. The national leadership is a complete disaster (between the idiotic President and his desire to reopen the country way too early and a Congress of nimrods who care far more about big business than the people). The death toll and infection rate are going to keep climbing because the positive effect of staying home and maintaining social distance will take time to have an impact.
Are you okay? For many, many people for many reasons, the answer is NO.
It’s okay to not be okay. This is unprecedented and is being made worse with conflicting information and disinformation. Not being able to participate in regular activities that might make you feel good is going to take a toll. And don’t fall for the false narrative about the cure being worse than the disease. It’s not — but you won’t see that for a while. This is another place our instant gratification society fails us, just FYI.
You are not alone in this. All of us are going through it. It is okay to not be okay because nothing about this is acceptable or okay.
But as bad as it is, it could be worse.
Social distancing is not the cure
The isolation, self-quarantine, and social distancing practices we are all taking part in right now are NOT a cure. What they are is the best option to lessen the spread of the virus and reduce the number of infections and deaths.
I am a social person. I love to spend time with my friends, whether we are just hanging out or gaming or fencing or what-have-you. Not being able to leave home and get together with my friends is weird and disconcerting.
Not being able to hug people also feels wrong. Yeah, I’m a hugger, and I miss being able to touch my friends.
I am fortunate. I do not live alone and have my wife and two cats as company. Many of those who are on their own are probably having a much harder time being so disconnected.
Many people are not okay. They are experiencing an emotional roller coaster coupled with information overload and disinformation overload. On top of that, no contact with other people to minimize the spread of this virus is hard to handle. No touch, no one-on-one interactions can even affect the most introverted, too.
So it is okay to not be okay and you are not alone in this. But if you are home, healthy, and reading this it is certainly a damn sight better than being in a hospital isolation ward hooked up to a ventilator.
That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck, however. And it is okay to not be okay.
Fortunately, there are a large number of ways that you and I can interact face-to-face without being physically together. There are a broad number of tools available that will allow you to have online realtime conversations with people. You can see each other and interact together.
Software like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Facebook messenger, Facetime and the like provide options for face-to-face interaction online. No, you are still going to lack touch — but it’s better than total isolation.
What if you lack the tech to share screentime? Chances are you have a phone. Make a call. Reach out to friends and family and check in with them and on them. You may not see their faces or be able to touch them — but you know they are there.
Imperfect as it is, Facebook messenger, Google Hangouts, and similar apps still offer interaction. Several friends and I “watched” a movie together the other night via Google Hangouts. This allowed us to type out snarky jokes and comment on the film, and we were “together” despite being in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine separately.
Admittedly, all of these are a poor substitute for interaction and contact and will provide only a distraction. But that is still better than nothing — and allows you to see that it’s okay to not be okay and you are not alone in this.
The other side of this is out there
Nobody can tell you for sure when it will be okay to stop social distancing and return to normal interaction. It is probably going to take a few more weeks to truly flatten the infection rate curve — and the only opinion on that that matters, FYI, is from medical professionals and scientists — not politicians, business leaders, or religious leaders.
Yes, this sucks. It is unusual, disconcerting, and scary. How did we get here and what will the world look like on the other side of this?
Nobody knows. Nobody. But there is an end to this, a return to socializing and normal work and such. However, be prepared for it to not be how it was before.
That may not be a bad thing, though. Change is inevitable and this is a pretty massive change in many ways. But this is just a moment in time — though it may feel really, really long — and it will pass.
It is okay to not be okay. Recognize that, acknowledge that, but work on practicing mindfulness to influence and control your thoughts and feelings so that you can find your center.
For me, I am focusing on my writing, have an audiobook to record, and some other work to do. I am leaving messenger open but closing Facebook so that I can talk to my friends but not keep reading about the really stupid things Trump says and Congress is trying to sneak through for their wealthy benefactors.
Stay in touch
It is okay to not be okay, but you are not alone. I, and others, are here for you to rant, vent, or just talk. Isolation may lack in contact but need not be utterly lonely. Reach out.
If you know people who are not okay do what you can to be there for them. We are all in this together and we will get through it.
Stay strong, but know you can and will have moments of weakness because you are inundated with negativity. It makes perfect sense, all things considered. It’s okay to not be okay but you are not alone and we will make it to the other side of this together.
Take care, stay strong, love and be loved. Be smart, be cautious, and know that you are not alone.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, it is okay to not be okay because we are not alone.