The Roller Coaster of COVID-19 Emotions
I am usually the queen of social media. Everyone looks at my positivity and upbeat posts on social media platforms such as my blog, and of course, on Facebook. Some of my Facebook friends have started to worry about me, as there were few and far between of my posts and they missed seeing me on there. Some reached out to see if I was okay. Okay is such a relative term these days, in that I am thankfully healthy, but not in the best of moods.
I have been loathed to write my blog – in fact, I have one nearly ready to publish that is probably the most inspirational one anyone will see during this time, but I could not finish it. My heart wasn’t into it. I was inspired and lifted up by the events I wrote about, and then my world became a bit bleaker. I aim to finish it as soon as my roller coaster of emotions leaves the long dip and starts climbing up again.
In the meantime, here we are in a most depressing time. Even those of us who are not usually depressed, who are upbeat, energetic, and stay fairly non-anxious about life and life events, are battling the mental health demon of COVID-19. If not the illness itself, then the mental struggle that we all feel is touching mostly all of us.
Who among us hasn’t been profoundly affected by our changed world, by the scourge touching friends and acquaintances, by reading of deaths of those more famous who have been silenced by this plague?
Who among us wonders when and IF our world, our society, and our communities will bounce back after such a devastating period of time?
I have spent some weeks sheltered in place, away from my beloved family and friends whose company I absolutely thrive on, feeling morose, and angry. I have felt cheated, beaten down, and overwhelmed. The sleepless and restless nights caused by anxiety and the unknown haven’t helped my mental attitude either.
And then, several weeks into this, possibly at the peak of my personal misery, I decided to write a list similar to a Ben Franklin list of pros and cons. I wrote the negatives of my current plight, and after a full page, I was seriously worried that positives would never be able to compete.
For one, I am still working, albeit remotely and leading a project that has been almost impossible to lead from a distance without human contact with the dozens and dozens involved. No amount of training, written words, instructionals, tutorials, or effort was counteracting the lack of communication due to lack of face-to-face contact. That caused me grief and to work an abnormal amount of hours including weekends troubleshooting, re-directing, correcting, solving issues etc. It was a mountain to climb. Yet, there WAS a positive in all of that: I had the time, while stuck at home, day and night and even weekends, without any social plans to interfere. If there was any perfect time to have to work like a slave, it would be one where there is no commute involved, and with crawling out of bed and working in PJs with no makeup or hair fussing time to take away from the actual work hours that had to be put in. While others were bored, I was over-occupied, and it kept me from obsessing over other extenuating circumstances as you will read next. And while others worry about the income coming in, that is not one of our worries and one has to be grateful for that.
This was the Spring that was supposed to be the best of my life, with the most wonderful lifecycle events to look forward to. Instead, I am hunkered down and sheltered in place with nary an event or social occasion to look forward to anytime in the near future. Loads of festivities – joyous celebrations, gone and canceled.
During this awful time, I had a beautiful new grandbaby born to my son and daugher-in-love. There was no pacing for me at the hospital, no visiting, no interaction with the parents and baby except for one brief visit. An event I waited a lifetime for – as it is my first natural grandchild, was denied to me on a personal contact level. I moped and mourned not being able to touch and bond with my precious new little one. I longed for him, I cried for him. And still, when I analyzed this and when I listed the positives of this birth, there were so many to be grateful for that it provided a bit of consolation. For one, he is healthy, he is happy, he and his parents are adapting to life together beautifully and they are bonding as a threesome, without interference from others. He is a good baby, and already quite smart and he adds still another bonus to my husband’s and my growing combined family.
In addition, I have spent so much time loving him up via facetime, along with my beautiful granddaughters from my husband’s sons. When I see all three gorgeous faces, revel in their adorable behavior, smartness, and growth via video, I can’t help but feel richly blessed. Though I am a Bubbie denied right now, I am the luckiest Bubbie in the world. (Yiddish for Grandmother)
I was booked to leave on my beloved Flower Power 60’s music cruise a week ago. Of course, it was canceled. It is the one week of the year that I go back in time and become a dancing, happy, carefree teenager again. I so look forward to it and to seeing my friends who also attend. This year’s acts were some of my favorites from youth: The Hollies, The Turtles, Herman’s Hermits, The Zombies, The Grass Roots, The Cowsills, The Buckinghams, and the list goes on and on. I was ready for a vacation too, as I have been working so very hard, and this floating music festival is the best and most relaxing and fun thing for me to do. I grieved the loss of that but was cheered that it was only postponed, and hopefully, they will be able to sail again someday with all of those acts. The company that puts these together sent us musical concerts to watch, tee shirts, and otherwise tried to cheer the two thousand of us who will have this party at sea delayed. I will enjoy it in the future and hopefully will have many more to look forward to in the future, as well as other vacations. (My Happy Place -Margate annual vacation may have to be canceled or postponed as well.)
Another thing making me morose was that my annual Seder, where I play the Balabusta and matriarch of our family with pride and joy and have done so for the past 38 years since I moved to Houston, will be a non-event this year. I enjoy cooking and experiencing the family ceremonial event each year. My daughter lifted my spirits by coordinating a Virtual Seder with our immediate family all sheltered in place at their own residences. We will not be physically together, but we will be together for our holiday. And another plus is that I won’t have to do all that cooking and cleaning! (Though I honestly do not mind and do so every year lovingly.)
Last, and certainly least, I am turning 65 shortly. The shelter in place probably will continue through and past my birthday. Everybody enjoys these big lifecycle momentous events. Aside from me nearing retirement age and my IRA being in the toilet due to the market crash surrounding this plague, and not having that needed senior security blanket; all of my celebrations planned will be canceled. I am a birthday Diva, who loves to revel and celebrate at every birthday and of course, the big ones mean even more to me. It was tough coming up with any positives about this. If you knew me and the importance I put on birthdays, (not just mine) you would understand.
But then a dear friend’s husband passed away. He was a great man, a man to admire, and he could not even have a funeral due to the current situation. It shocked me into the reality that I am just lucky to be alive and healthy, and rich with the blessings of many many friends; and a close-knit, warm, and loving and successful family. And who says I can’t celebrate my 66th next year when hopefully we are all in the clear as if it was my 65th?
My husband has been cooking more and even baking, and those carbs certainly make us both feel a bit better though we may have some extra pounds to lose when this is over.
In just writing all of this down and really reflecting on my life, I have turned the page my friends, and this is especially good news for the ones who were a bit worried about me. I can now, after analyzing the positives in my life, honestly say that I will survive the emotional roller coaster I am on right now with this dreaded disease scaring the wits out of all of us. Most of us will all come out of it, Please G-d, healthy and wiser, with our priorities straight. For those we have lost and may lose in the future, I will reserve all of my sympathies for, instead of for my own situations. And that is the bottom line.
I feel for you, Arlene. If I had a big birthday coming up and couldn’t celebrate it, I would be depressed by that, too. My 68th birthday was March 14th. I was supposed to go out to dinner with three couples the night before. One by one everyone canceled out of fear. On Saturday, my actual birthday, we passed on a show for which we already had bought tickets. Sunday, I was supposed to get together with my whole family. My husband’s son and his family, decided it was time for them to hunker down. My grandson was running a fever, so his family stayed home. But, my daughter and her family came over and we shared a very large chocolate iced, chocolate chip cake with chocolate ice cream. That was the last time I saw any of my family in person. But…it definitely raised my spirits and made my birthday feel special. … At least I had that.
Meanwhile, the special events happening in your family… The timing is so off. I get the disappointment. I’m glad that when you read over the positive things on which you focus, it helped you get over the hump of feeling depressed.
Now we all need to get over the hump, of this highly contagious killer. It is the biggest challenge of our lives, both physically and mentally.
Great blog Arlene! My sentiments excactly!…I’m am a very high energy, social person. As you are. We were shut down. Having to adapt to a solitary life we are are unfamiliar with…
I, like you, had big plans coming up. Of course our cruise! Canceled…well postponed.
And then I also have a wonderful, special boyfriend in Belgium I had planned on spending 3 months with. Traveling around Europe….
Canceled. Or hopefully just postponed….
And I am here totally alone. No partner or family member. No animals…
I was having a big pity party for myself. Which is totally NOT me!
I can be by myself and enjoy it sometimes. But not knowing the future or how bad this disease will get is terrible.
But, as you did, I began focusing on all the positives in my life. There are many, as you said. #1 being our health. A big part of which is our mental health. I choose to focus on positive as much I can moving forward….it’s gonna get better! I’m sure of it! Stay happy my friend!♀️
What a beautifully written blog, Arlene. Thank you for helping me appreciate all the positives I have in my life. I am thinking of Sandy & family., hoping she knows she is not grieving alone. My son and his husband are expecting boy and girl twins to be born tomorrow. I know you will hold my hand in helping me cope with the forbidden-holding, cuddling the newborns, kissing and helping 1st time parents. But then again, how grateful and thrilled am I that I live in a world where they were able to even marry in Charleston SC, have healthy children via surrogate, be virtually surrounded by healthy family, have 4 grandchildren know that they have 2 additional cousins to love.
I appreciate you and Gary. Abrazos from afar.
So Beautifully written !! And I’m sure everyone feels as you do, I know I certainly do. Hoping and praying that this passes sooner than later, and we can all get back to enjoying our lives, family and friends! I know I can’t wait to get back to work and living life normally once again. I am so very thankful for being healthy( so far) and knowing that my family is doing well! Love you❤️
Congratulations on the birth of your precious grandson, Arlene. My heart aches for you, as this has been the hardest thing – when will I see my grandchildren again? xoxo, Liz
Fabulous blog. Counting blessings like waking up each day, cherishing friends and family. THANK YOU ✨