Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Hello! Raise your hand if you aren't dead.

*raises hand*

I worry more than the typical person, I think. I get it from my mother. I remember people helpfully advising her that worrying did no good and she should stop worrying so much.

Today she might label herself anxious instead. There's no shortage on the internet of self-diagnosed people with anxiety these days. What's the difference between being "a worrier" in the s1970s and 1980s and "having anxiety" in the 2000s and 2010s? Relatable memes?

Undiagnosed as I am, I worry a lot and always have. So this whole global pandemic crisis is really difficult for me, as a worrier/anxious person. Any day when I am walking around and staying upright instead of lying facedown on the floor is a brave day for me. This is definitely facedown on the floor time.

And we are less than a month into this. My birthday was on March 17, and the Saturday prior I had planned to go to Universal with friends. We agonized over whether to go. The theme parks weren't closed yet. Ultimately we decided not to, but even the fact that we nearly did go is just shocking now. My birthday was three weeks ago today. Three weeks. How is that possible?

As of today, Tuesday April 7, I only know a couple of people who have been diagnosed with the Covid virus, and I don't personally know anyone who has died from it. I feel sure that will happen eventually, and I worry terribly about family and friends who are high risk. I also worry about me or my husband. That's what gives me nightmares.

My husband has been laid off, and though I have no doubt they would love to hire him back, who knows what will happen. I'm trying to stay hopeful that his company will survive this economic downturn (they are "essential" and are still open, but they have laid off 30% of employees and all the others have had their hours/salary cut by half) but who knows. I have not been laid off, and I hope I won't be, and I am working from home full time. (Yes, I do worry that I'll be laid off too, even though I really have no concrete reason to think it's likely.)

We are trying to stay in touch with friends through Zoom and FaceTime. I still have meetings and I talk to work people pretty much daily, but I worry about my husband. He's bound to get lonely and sad without having any other human contact besides me, so I'm trying to preemptively set up video chats with friends. We had one last weekend with some friends in Canada that we love and haven't seen for several years.

We've looked at things we can cut out of our budget. We've canceled music services and cut our cable tv service to the minimum (being at home all the time, I just couldn't stand the thought of cutting it out completely) and resisted the temptation to get takeout just out of boredom. Financially we can be okay on just my income if we are careful. And we have savings. Never leaving the house might drive us crazy, but it does save money.

So many of my friends and former co-workers are laid off or furloughed or have had their paychecks reduced. At the place I worked for 16 years, the company that laid me off in 2012, many of my friends just got laid off last week. Permanently. They were told if, in the future, they see job openings posted, they can apply. And at the place I worked most recently, the one I left to move to my current job in 2016, they have furloughed nearly everyone for three months. The ones who weren't furloughed had a pay cut that may or may not be permanent.

Not only do I worry about me and my husband, I worry about all of them, too. I know some of them were living paycheck to paycheck, so what will they do now?

But what I am most worried about, overall, for all of us, is how long this will last. For me, that's one of the most painful things. Not knowing how long this will last is torture. I need an end date to look forward to. When there is nothing to look forward to, it's back to being facedown on the floor.

I see people on social media saying all kinds of things - a couple of weeks, a couple of years. The unpleasant truth is that no one knows. And even once the peak (whenever that might happen) is past us things will not return to normal, I don't think. How could people go out in public and be around other, potentially contagious people? It seems like until we have a vaccine, it will be dangerous.

And how is that going to work, distributing a vaccine to literally every human on the planet? How long would that take?

I heard that in China things are returning to normal now, but everyone is wearing masks and many public places are requiring temperature checks upon entry. Is that how it will be here, in two months or three months or six months...? Theme parks and stores and restaurants will be open but require masks and temperature checks?

I just feel like worrying is valid. This is going to change who we are as a society, here in America, and it's going to change the whole planet to some degree or another.

I've been on a couple of group Zoom chats recently where the leader asks how everyone is doing, and people just nod and say Okay. Part of me thinks we should drop the act and just start screaming.