The day the World Health Organization declared the Corona Virus outbreak a pandemic, I was headed to a friend’s house to do a transcription. Social distancing was already in place there when I arrived. I disinfected everything I touched before and after which is something not that unusual in me. I am not a germaphobe but I have always tended to overly clean myself and my environment. I wasn’t quite grasping that this was only the beginning of a surreal world situation. The next days Los Angeles proved that it does rain in “sunny California”. Perfect to frame what we would all start living soon.
I grew up in a world that consisted of hugs given the Latin way —close, body to body. It was how my mother comforted me as a child and, as a teenager, how I awkwardly expressed that I liked you. As an adult, it was not given as a precursor to anything (as in foreplay) but as an everything all in itself. I grew up in countries where men kiss men on the cheek in greeting without their sexuality being questioned.
A few days ago I read that scientists have said that we may have to live with social distancing for quite a while. Six-degrees of separation (which actually linked us) has turned into a physical 6-feet separation. So this virus may not only effectively turn lethal to those in the high risk section but to life as we -or I- knew it. In the midst of official social distancing and a self-imposed distancing from mostly everything, I am longing for a touch more than ever. Though I know that I will learn to live without, it saddens me more than words can express.
When I hear about the deaths this virus has caused I think of the sorrow of the loved ones left behind. But I also think of those that in times like this tend to be even more forgotten than they usually are: those suffering from depression and/or anxiety disorders -a not-so-exclusive-club which I have been a member of, off and on, all my life.
There are many reasons why people tend to shy away. An actor recently said that no one wants to deal with you in your darkness. Even less so in this “be positive” world which doesn’t give room for you to express your thoughts or fears and discards them -and the one that shares them- seeing them as negativity. Now, when we are all dealing with so much, including getting to know ourselves, we gravitate to a mental distancing of anything not considered essential. And those alone feel so even more.
I am a nurturer by nature so taking care of a kitten recovering from being neutered early last week helps me with feeling needed and not inconsequential, even when I am getting no sleep thanks to his nightly desire to get out of my bedroom (by rasping his cone against the door). My roommate’s (who hasn’t been here since then) other cats await in the rest of the house for some love, food, and water… in reverse order. So all in all I find a sense of purpose in my isolation.
I have shutdown my intuitive side which leads me to thoughts and images I cannot handle right now. I have also steered clear of Facebook and Instagram. My anxiety level is high enough as is.
I have texted, so as not to be obtrusive, with friends checking on how they are doing. I have called and left a message when it goes unanswered. Sometimes, that is all the other side needs. Though it is easy to ask someone to reach out should they need you, it is when they probably will feel less inclined to.
Fear, anxiety, and loneliness are paralyzing. Consider mentally going through your contact list and call or text that person you have not contacted in a while, or a friend or someone that you may suspect may need you. Not in a mass text or Facebook or Instagram post but as a personal message making someone on the other side feel special. I am not suggesting by any means that people may be on the brink of a metaphorical precipice, just that the message of “you are not alone” is a powerful one, one that we underestimate while convincing ourselves of our fortitude or when basking in the proximity of ones we love. And yes, a disclaimer is coming: I am not a doctor or pretend to be one so take this all with a grain of salt. As to taking care of yourself, see what the CDC (Center of Disease Control) says about dealing with it here.
We may already know the value of family and friends but this is a reminder that those with a strong support group should be thankful for its blessing while not forgetting those without.
So let’s maintain physical separation for now and pay more attention to our mental connection. That text or call may mean more to someone than you may imagine.
And as a parting note, corona (aside from being a brand of a beer) means “crown” in Spanish. What on earth are we being crowned as (or with) now?
I have promised to end my blogs with songs so here goes these: Michael Bublé – Help Me Make It Through The Night (feat. Loren Allred) where he explains the reasons why he recorded it as a duet (I think it was written by Kris Kristofferson in the 70s); OK, performed by Mabel which has the sub-title of “Anxiety Anthem”; and Beth Hart – Mama This One’s For You because well… I wish I had her now.