This really does not feel like my story to tell, but my sister has been struggling with pain over the last few days. After the night in the hospital, she was told to manage the pain with medicine and wait for it to get better. Yesterday, she had a friend come over “to help out” but ended up watching movies instead. Our dishes were piling up and needed to be done soon, but she was in no condition to do them. I planned to do the dishes when I got home from work, but another friend came by to bring my sister lunch and helped with our dishes before she left. I cannot express how grateful I am for the people that care for us, check in with us, and express their love and concern. It definitely means a lot, especially when we are struggling.
Today was an interesting day at work. The closest branch to us was closed for cleaning due to possible Covid exposure. That meant that all our bank traffic came to the same branch. We were able to help everyone without too much trouble, but it definitely made things interesting. It also caused some complications with social distancing since there were extra employees on the teller line. On the other hand, it was great to work with so many good employees, and it made me even more grateful for my job and my health.
It has been a busy week. Tuesday I got a call to schedule my new internet installation. It was especially helpful because it will save me money every month and no longer have the data limits that I have now.
Wednesday I donated plasma and got some groceries. Then my sister and I went out for a bit to get her out of the house.
Thursday my sister went to the chiropractor and found out that she has degenerative disc disease. Not great news, but he did say that it was good they caught it early so that they could start treatment and preventative measures.
Friday I got to wear a t-shirt to work, which I loved. It was also helpful because I drove four hours to take my sister to the airport. We were running late, so I was grateful I did not have to change out of work clothes.
My sister did at least a mile a day on our elliptical machine last week. I tried to keep up but would get out of breath easily and couldn’t do more than a few minutes at a time. Today I was able to do a mile without any problems! It finally felt like progress towards getting better.
I did not want to write my something good post last night. My sister and I have been having symptoms of sickness since Sunday night. Our symptoms have been mild and ambiguous so far. We have had general body aches and fatigue, congestion and headaches, but nothing that would positively tell us if it was allergies or the flu or anything at this point. I just did not want to try to think of something good in my state of exhaustion.
I did wake up feeling somewhat better today, though that did not last long. I have been able to clean the house a bit and do some laundry over the past couple days. Although my body has been tired, I have completed essential chores each day and then watched movies with my sister to relax.
It is difficult to remain in good spirits while feeling unwell. I have been depressed and lethargic. I also have a shorter temper. I miss work and coworkers but am also grateful to know that I have a job to return to when I recover from whatever sickness this may be.
We are officially done with a quarter of this year. It has been a rocky start and will probably continue to be for a while, but hopefully things will get better eventually. I have been struggling today, but I did fix the monitor on our elliptical. My sister was excited to track her progress and did a mile on it. Then we watched a funny movie to get our minds off things.
I am a skeptic. I rarely believe what I hear from rumors or the media. I need to find out for myself what is true. From the beginning, I was not scared of Covid-19 (A.K.A. Corona virus) because I am healthy, young, and wash my hands regularly. However, after hearing stories from some of my friends, I thought it was important to share their thoughts on quarantines, social distancing, and good hygiene.
One particular friend’s story struck a chord with me. She shared that she has four immediate family members who are at risk of death if they contract corona virus. Her brother is most at risk because he was hospitalized recently for trouble breathing on his own. She shared her anxieties in trying to get all the necessary supplies to help her family self-isolate until the risk of sickness decreases and her fears that they may not survive if one of them contracts Covid-19.
I will tell the rest of the story in her own words:
As I’m unloading bags from my store trips, my brother is watching the news. We’ve explained the self-quarantine, social distancing, and how Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong have successfully decreased death rates and even the virus in general by practicing these methods. The news goes on, reporting how parents are finding activities for the kids while they’re out of school. The activities are in the community. For example, the butterfly exhibit increased from 40 people a day to 200 today. This is not social distancing, and my brother knows it. He gets angry- he’s legitimately scared he’s going to die and hates the idea of severe pneumonia because he knows what it feels like to not be able to breathe. It sounds like a painful horrible death to him, and I understand why he feels this way. He says, “please, you have to call someone, you have to write letters. I want to live, and I don’t want to stay in the house forever. “We’ll run out of food. “There’s not enough, and I don’t have enough of the things I need to not get sick.” He’s right about it all! I don’t know who to call or write because so many people don’t really understand!
I don’t need to fear. Most of you don’t need to fear, but there are many in the vulnerable category who rightly need to fear and protect themselves. They need our help protecting them. They are relying on us! They are sitting in homes, praying they won’t need to suffer, afraid of not only death, like my brother who wants to do so much more and is not even 30, but also of the pain and suffering as breathing becomes more and more labored. They sit at home hoping something can stop this or at least greatly limit it. They’re doing all they can. I’m doing all I can for them.
I’ve seen posts- let’s pray, let’s fast, and yes, let’s do. But faith without works is dead, prayer without action is asking God to stop us instead of partnering with him. We need not fear. The reason for this is to put our prayer into action and answer the prayers of my brother, of my father and mother, and my sister. The point of this is to answer the prayers of family members like me! We have a real chance to bear one another’s burdens to stand as brothers and sisters in this great human family. It is a unique and wonderful and beautiful opportunity if we choose to take it.
My niece who is quarantined with them said, “I don’t want to stay inside all day. It’s hard.” I said, “Well, if it keeps your Mom, and grandpa and grandma, and Uncle Matt from getting sick will you do it?” Yes, she meekly nods and says, “but for how long?” “How long would you do it if it keeps them dying?” She looks at me with a big smile and adamantly says, “Forever. I’d even stay in here forever if it meant saving someone’s life I didn’t know, but I love them so much longer than forever.” If a 9-year-old can do it, then why not us with all our children? Please hear my brother’s voice because I don’t know who to write to.
Would it have been worth it to you to go to the movie or restaurant or not limit your work outside or demand your employees come to work as even one person dies you don’t know? I believe most of us would be like my niece. I’m counting on this basic human goodness to help my family! So let me explain what social distancing is and looks likes so you can answer the prayers of my family and many others like them at this time:
Limit contact to no more than 50 people at any place, but staying under 20 is better and highly encouraged. Stay six feet away from anyone. If you have any symptoms, stay home and get tested immediately. Have people work from home as much as possible. Schools close. They don’t stay open for breakfast and lunch or childcare purposes for parents. You encourage the whole population to stay at home as much as possible. Employers and governments support parents in staying at home with their kids, working from home as possible, and ensuring people can financially do so while having their needs met. In the long run, the cost to governments and employers is cheaper than if this spreads, and the economy fares much better. No one goes to restaurants, movie theaters, malls etc. You only go out for medical care- if it’s absolutely necessary, for the job you have, and potentially to the grocery store or pharmacy. That’s it.
This isn’t a time to visit neighbors or family living in other homes. You stay in your home, and they stay in theirs. Kids don’t run back and forth between houses. We seriously distance ourselves for a few weeks from everyone possible. We wash hands often, disinfect often, use hand sanitizer, etc. Then at the end of a three-to-four-week period, we begin lifting some, but not all, of these restrictions. The spread is almost eliminated from the community, deaths prevented, and slowly we begin lifting aspects of the social distancing.
Take time to play with your kids. Have conversations. I promise that will be far more bonding and memorable than any movie you watch or place you visit. Let’s focus on relationships! Maybe you’re alone or live with roommates who just pay the rent and you aren’t friends with. Great, still focus on relationships. This is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with our higher power, maybe Karma, or Buddhist tradition, perhaps Allah. For me, it’s God and Jesus Christ. I’m anticipating spending deep reflection on where I’m going and how I’d like to improve. I will reflect on relationships, who I can apologize to or mend things with.
Then I’ll find ways to help others. I’ll find a single mother who needs to go to work and watch her kids during the day so I can support social distancing. I’ll find seniors, who shouldn’t go out, and shop for them. If anyone gets sick, I can cook soup and leave it on their doorstep, so I’m still social distancing. This doesn’t need to be a burden. It can be a beautiful time. A time where, as a community, we truly care for each other and we grow as individuals. We can come out of social isolation better and more whole. The choice is ours.
If there is one thing epidemiologists and the WHO have scientifically proven, it’s simply this- the spread of the disease, the severity of it and the death rates can be controlled by social isolation and distancing. It really is our choice! I truly hope people read this. Sharing things so personal doesn’t come easy to me. I’m typically much more reserved. Most people didn’t know my brother was in a coma, as I didn’t talk about it. But I share this because I kept thinking of my brother’s plea to me, “please write a letter, call someone, help me. I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want to die.” This voice keeps me up tonight. I hope you hear my brother’s plea. Please help him, help my family members!
If you want to see the effects of social distancing and how it can help at this time, please click here to see the virus simulator.
Last week was an especially difficult week emotionally. I had multiple breakdowns a day and just struggled to control my emotions several times throughout the week. By the end of the week, I realized that this was not simply the result of inconvenient timing of mood swings but was instead directly correlating to my eating habits. The longer it took for me to get food, the more aggressive and anxious I became.
I have always known that I struggle with handling needing food. I can tolerate hunger and can go without eating for a while without issues, but if I do not get food when I am expecting to eat, I lose self control. I lash out and have even injured myself at times. This probably sounds a bit extreme, but I looked up a couple articles about “hanger” and aggression around hunger. The ones I found most relevant explained that low blood sugar can decrease serotonin, which increases stress and affects the ability to regulate your mood.
As someone who already struggles with serotonin levels and mood regulation, this can easily send me over the edge. I remember as a kid, kicking myself off a bed because I was so hungry that I didn’t know what to do with myself. The biggest problem with all this is that it is difficult to provide food for yourself when you get to that point. Trying to cook something when your brain isn’t working leads to more anger and frustration because the process takes too long or is not going as planned.
At this point, I have realized as an adult that I have three options. I can withdraw myself from the situation until my body tires itself out and I no longer have the energy to be aggressive, or I can try to maintain self control just long enough to get something to eat, or I can allow things to get to the point when I explode and am at risk of hurting others or myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced these problems as an adult, much less as a child. Granted, as a child, someone else was mostly responsible for providing food for me, but I had less control about how or when that food came.
I think it is interesting to note the differences between what we expect of children and adults. Often when we become most frustrated with how someone is acting, there is probably a physiological component to their behavior. Maybe they literally cannot just keep calm and carry on. Maybe they cannot communicate their needs. Maybe they cannot provide for themselves in the ways we expect. The difference between children and adults though is that we expect the child to learn to do these things and the adult to know how to do these things. But maybe instead we need to focus more on why things are happening to help prevent the physiological reaction because at that point, it is too late in many ways to avoid unwanted reactions.
You can’t do life alone. No matter how much you want to be independent from everything and everyone, you need something bigger than yourself. Whether that something is God or friends or Google, we all need things outside of ourselves to keep us going, to help us in hard times, and to inspire us to be better.
I take an antidepressant. I have been taking this same medication for approximately a year and a half, and in general, I have been doing really well emotionally during that time. Sometimes though, I think that I am doing “well enough” to stop taking my medicine. I have never really liked medicine or doctors, and I am usually defiantly independent, so every few months or so, I try to lower my dose of medication or only take it every other day to see what happens. And honestly, it’s not a good experience. I might keep doing well for a few days, but slowly, I find myself drowning again. It becomes harder to see the light. A heaviness overwhelms me and I hurt for no explicable reason.
This last time of trying to get by on a lower dose of medicine has convinced me that it is not worth it. I would rather pay the money every month to buy my medicine than find myself contemplating suicide or wanting to give up on life. At one point I thought that accepting the possibility that I may need to take medication for the rest of my life was giving in to depression. If I have to keep taking medicine to avoid being depressed, then obviously the depression is still there, right? But I am coming to realize that taking antidepressants is the opposite of giving in to depression. As long as I am doing things to keep myself safe, to fight my depression, to keep on going, I am not giving in to anything (accept maybe happiness).
The truth is that we all need something to help us keep going. For some people, that something is running or doing some other form of sport or exercise. For others, that something is eating chocolate or avoiding sugar or doing something else that helps them feel good. I am coming to accept that medicine is what helps me to keep going. I also need friends and exercise and good food and sunshine and moments of silence offset by moments of crazy fun, but I can’t enjoy all those other things if my mental illness is keeping me from being able to be myself.
So, I am calling today a victory. I am deciding today to use the resources of modern medicine to help myself find peace. And I am encouraging you to do the same thing. Do not allow yourself to feel embarrassed or weak or less capable because you need something. Taking care of yourself is the strongest thing you can do, and no matter how you do that, if it works for you, it is the right thing to do.
People have been asking me over the past week what my new year’s resolutions are. Up until this point, I have been in survival mode. I wasn’t thinking about the year… I was simply trying to get through the day. But today, the dust seems to have finally settled, and I discovered the one thing that I really want to do this year.
I simply want to be myself.
I spent so much of last year being sick, either physically or mentally, that I just couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t exercise or play sports. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t do little random acts of kindness. I couldn’t help around the house. I did some of these things anyway, but it took everything out of me.
This year, I want to enjoy being me. I want to go running just because I feel like it. And I want to talk to new people at church. I want to bake a cake and make cookies and get dinner ready, just for fun, just because I can. And I want to wash dishes and do extra laundry loads and vacuum. (Oh how I want to vacuum!) I just want to be able to do all the things my illnesses prevented me from doing.
You don’t really realize how precious those things are until you lose them. Having depression made me miss exercise so much. Breaking my thumb made me miss simply being able to tie my own shoes. Having anxiety and depression made me miss just being able to have a normal conversation with someone. And my health issues and depression made me miss being able to maintain a clean house.
So, though it may not seem like much to an outsider, I am excited to be able to do the normal stuff this year. And my resolution is simply to enjoy doing it because I have waited so long for this moment.