People are scared, anxious, depressed, feel helpless, feel hopeless. It’s all true. Most of us have been on some type of quarantine for months. We’ve learned to wear masks and talk, to stay six feet away from everyone we’re not living with, and to use tubs of hand sanitizer along with washing our hands frequently. We scour stores looking for toilet paper and paper towels, a box of Kleenex is a real score. We didn’t sign up for this, nor did wet see this coming. We couldn’t have imagined the nightmare we’re living through, but like all nightmares, no matter how horrible they are, eventually they are over, we put them away and try not to look back.
We go on, shaken up, having learned a new way to live, learning things about ourselves we didn’t know before we were called to courage, hope, faith, and a whole lot of grit to get from the first announcement of a world pandemic to where we are today. Instead of reading a Steven King novel that scares us witless, we feel like we’re inside of a Steven King novel, unable to find our way back out of those pages of life that are as shocking as they are surprising. We can’t look up what to do on the Internet because whatever we do, it’s never been done before. It doesn’t matter what your politics are, what matters is that we get through this, and we’re going to have to do it together. We don’t even have to like each other to know we have to pull together, and even then, it’s a tough haul. I’m sure you’ve read about a million things to do while you’re locked up. What you probably haven’t read is that you need to let off steam because letting off steam helps depression and anxiety and fear. If it’s possible, go into your yard or your bathroom and scream as loud as you can, three times, “I Hate This.” Or take a pillow, put it on the floor or a big enough space for you and the pillow, and begin beating the life out of that pillow, screaming the same scream with each fist pound of your fist. Run up and down your stairs twenty-five times, take a couple of breaths and do it again. Make it a goal since few of you will be able to do that.
Have designated rooms and times where family members can be alone every day, uninterrupted, to do whatever they want to do for at least an hour and a half, preferably two. We aren’t used to being locked up, not used to sharing space with no uninterrupted time to ourselves. In the past we were alone often, driving our cars, going shopping, visiting the library, we didn’t have to talk to anyone. We need that time where we can think our thoughts, breathe without having to talk, think without being interrupted, where we are indeed able to relax without another person around. Figure out who will get which room or if you’ll designate one or two rooms and alternate times. Then figure out what times work for which people, and do it, like it’s your religion. We will get through this together, and we will look back and wonder how we survived the nightmare. In the meantime, take care of your mental health. It’s just as important to take care of your brain as it is to protect your body during this time. We are learning, and we are growing, we’re becoming something new as a culture. Wonder what’s over there on the horizon.