Discussion: psychological effects of the pandemic

I am not, of course, a psychologist, so all I know about the title topic is the effects that the pandemic has had on me and on some of my friends, judging by what they tell me rather than what what I observe—or rather am unable to observe since long-term contact with friends and acquaintances is now verboten.

I’ll just describe, then, the changes I’ve undergone, and ask readers to chime in.  Now I know that people who are already fairly isolated, like those who live way out in the country, might suffer fewer effects than those who are constantly interacting with others, for some people crave solitude. But I doubt the pandemic has spared even those souls.  I am also perfectly aware that anyone who hasn’t caught the virus, and especially those who are still alive, can’t beef that much, for we’re still here.

Consider this, then, a description rather than a complaint: some anecdotal data on the effects of a lockdown on one specimen of H. sapiens.

The most obvious symptom I note in myself is an increase in impatience and peevishness.  I have little patience with those who are talking to me, especially if I sense a monologue, and I want to get off the phone almost as soon as I start talking to someone. It seems to me that people are talking at greater length, which makes me antsy. But I am not sure that this perceived increase in loquacity is real.  It could be my imagination. And, at any rate, such impatience is not my normal behavior.

I have grown more intolerant in the past few months, and have to rein in anger quite often. It even comes out as a form of attenuated road rage, in which I find it hard to tolerate bad drivers. (In the last decade I’ve consciously developed an accepting Buddhist-like attitude towards driving.) Someone suggested that, in general, people’s inability to control their lives very much now has made them even more controlling in other respects.

I have become more hermetic. I often intend to call or Skype my friends in the evening, and then think, “Nawww. . .  we’ll all just kvetch and it will be depressing. And besides, nothing is happening.” This is even more unlike me, as a while back I had several friends to whom I’d talk almost daily—often at length. If you’re someone who hasn’t heard from me in a while, forgive me.

Most of us, I think, are suffering from anxiety, which is the normal human response to uncertainty. And of course we have uncertainty big time: there’s an election coming up; most of us are aware that if Trump is elected the country goes down the drain; we have no idea how Trump is going to handle either an election loss or the pandemic; and we have no idea when there will be a vaccine, or, if there is one, whether it will work very well.

Although I don’t have to worry about losing my job, I seem to have lost enthusiasm for many things that use to get me juiced up.  Even reading seems like a chore, and books, once my great joy, have become big blocks of daunting pages that I must plow through. When reading, I ask myself, “How many more pages until the end?” My attention span is limited.

Writing on this website, always both a self-imposed obligation but also a great pleasure, has become more difficult. It’s harder to choose what to talk about, and I fear that some of my peevishness has slipped into the posts. If that seems to be the case, forgive me as well.

My sleeping has gone to hell. I used to get a solid 7 hours a night, which was enough for me, but now I wake up after, say, five hours of sleep, the anxiety sets in, and that’s all she wrote. I try to offset this by taking naps, but that might exacerbate the problem.

No matter how depressing life got, I always had a trip in the offing to look forward to. That is no more. Trips—which I planned in my dotage to combine with lectures on ships—were something I looked forward to in retirement, but of course these aren’t in the offing for a long time, and ships have become floating Petri dishes.

As I wait for things to resume, I’m conscious of my own mortality: the good years I have left are fewer, and yet most of us can’t do what we want with them—not for now.  As Bonnie Raitt sang in Nick of Time, “Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.”

I am pretty sure that once the pandemic has abated—if it ever does!—and I can start traveling again, things will be back to normal (well, as normal as I ever was). In the end, I have no idea why I’m writing a confessional like this except that I just fed the ducks (there are many of them today), and they were squabbling for food and pecking each other and I realized that what was once a great joy has become a chore. On the good side of the ledger, Honey is still here, as are Dorothy and her babies, the duck farming went well, with a bumper crop of 23 this year, all healthy and grown, and I’ll be both elated and saddened when, in a month, the Eight Originals who remain raise their mighty wings and head south.

The best I can make of this post is that I’m trying to start a conversation to see if other people have had similar deleterious—or even salubrious—changes in their character as a result of the pandemic. Weigh in one way or the other. Or, if you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t slipped since March, weigh in as well.

Oh, and now instead of shaving every other day, it’s once every three days, and even four around the weekend. Who’s to see?

150 Comments

  1. Jeff Chamberlain
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    You’ve summarized my self-assessment almost exactly (except for the writing on the website part, of course).

  2. Steve
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Spot on with the shaving..every other day to maybe twice a week for me as well.
    And (cosmos forbid) if Trump wins, anxiety will shoot up even more for around half the population.
    I don’t feel that my anger level has gone up as much as my energy level has gone down, likely from both less exercise and more energy expended on anxiety. All we can do is take it all one day at a time. And come up with news way to enjoy the outdoors this winter….

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Snap on shaving – only once every week or two!
      Yes, the world will weep when Trump wins, because that means the morons Xi, Putin, Erdogan & Bolsonaro etc will drag us down into the mire. Mind you that battle was lost 20 years ago…

      • Justin Seabury
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Ya’ll need to accept the Dan Haggerty look, and find some new hobbies. Might I suggest Knitting, I hear that community is very supportive!

  3. rickflick
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    At meal time in the evening, My wife and I sometimes bring up bad news that usually transitions to a tirade against tRump. After a few minutes, one of us says, let’s not talk about that. And we go silent for a minute trying to think of something else.

  4. Type Logician
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I can’t say that pandemic isolation has been stressful for me at all. I’m strongly inclined to solitude by nature—my wife much less so, but both of us feel that our lives have become a good deal simpler, with the enforced isolation helping to eliminate a lot of the static and noise of ordinary life. I find I can sit and work for hours without interruption in a way that would have been impossible before all this started. So my experience has been probably the polar opposite of Jerry’s, and it would be interesting to learn where others fit in on this spectrum of reactions.

    • Janet
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I would be in your camp, “Type”. I am much happier having most days to myself, to work on my art or read, rather than being constantly occupied with socialization and travel. I am sad for my husband, however, who is one of the extroverts who truly misses it all.

      • hectorburleeives
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Count me, too, an inveterate introvert. I gave up watching all sports over a decade ago as simply a waste of time that only wound up making me feel bad about the losing teams and the pampered, overpaid athletes I followed. I loathe travel and overpriced food in restaurants. And wherever two or more are gathered, in anybody’s name, I struggle to be part of the group. Yet I can’t escape the feeling of doom by proxy right now, and I share JC’s sadness that, even though I don’t do many of the things others are missing now, this stupid virus is stealing from me precious months (please, not years!) out of the dwindling total that remains of this life.

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      I’m in this group too. So nice to be able to concentrate!

    • A C Harper
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Me too. Although my wife is missing seeing friends and family, especially our granddaughter.

      I’ve found myself in quite a strange frame of mind. I’m retired and although I don’t particularly want to get sick or die I’m not bothered by the thought of it. A mix of Epicureanism and Stoicism so I decline to get upset by the latest twitterstorm of the day.

  5. matthetube
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    There is no magical cure for anxiety and/or depression. I’ve suffered significantly from both at periods in my life.

    Like you, my general anxiety level has increased during this pandemic.

    Two treatments I can feel very confident recommending are vigorous exercise and meditation. I run stairs here in hilly Seattle. I would HIGHLY recommend Sam Harris’ meditation app.

  6. Mike
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Like Logician my experience of the pandemic has been mostly benign. I like working alone from home and my income is secure. I’m keenly aware of how fortunate I am in those ways.

    I live in a small apartment with my family, and we get on top of each other at times and everyone tends to be short-tempered about once every ten days or so. Apology and a hug and we reset.

    I get outdoors for 4-5 hours at a time for exercise, and that has helped a lot. I worry I will not do so well when weather forces us all indoors later in the year.

    Also IANAD but mirtazapine for anxiety and sleep disruption is effective and has few side effects in most people. Dr. Lickerman could advise.

  7. Laurance
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    You’re not alone, Jerry.

    I’m eating too much. I’ve gained “The Covid 15” and I just can’t grab a grip and stop the unhappy eating.

    Part of the problem is Frump. If we had a good president and could have the feeling that The Powers That Be were caring about the state of the country and the world and were working hard on solving problems and caring about the well-being of their citizens, well, we’d still have problems, but…

    All the ill will!! Lies and hatefulness and narcissism and self-serving garbage while the populace struggles to cope. The government is my enemy, not my friend.

    I’m an old fart. I’m a week away from my 79th birthday and this pandemic makes things so much harder. I go over to the Nursing Home with my cellphone and tap on the window. My Sweetheart comes over and gets out his cellphone and we have a little visit. But I haven’t been able to hug him or give him a kiss since February.

    I feel so angry when I see these anti-maskers with either no mask or their mask down under their nose or over their chin. They’re being selfish and uncaring at a time when we need care. And Penn State Students!! Partying without masks or social distancing, and now the covid cases are starting to skyrocket!

    I’ve put up two of those “We Believe” signs, and I made a sign thanking postal workers and put it on my mailbox.

    I’m sorry if I’ve written a post that’s too long. Words are gushing out in response to your post.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    The observations are important to share but I refrain from attempting to interpret them. I would like to share a few comments with the intention of helping.

    • I have cut my coffee consumption (TJ’s Bay Blend ) in half. This requires embracing feeling tired, and just plowing forward towards a hopefully better night of sleep. And I save a lot of cash,

    • tennis is a sport where the players can almost always be 6 feet apart.

    • I like the traffic Bhuddism – we need more of that. Dave Barry wrote that deep down inside, we all think we are good drivers. I also heard that we must remember- we are also the traffic. All that is consistent with a Bhuddist approach I think. Personally, I think traffic is the clearest demonstration that free will does not exist,

  9. Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Little has changed for my wife and me, except the masks in public places and the more frequent use of hand sanitizer. We were homebodies prior. I work from home (Software Engineer) and have done so for nearly a decade.

    I think, had I not met my wife (my second marriage) that my divorce aftermath would have been rather hermetic! Don’t get me wrong, I am H. sapiens and a social animal, but I don’t strongly crave interaction. I don’t self-isolate 100% either, being a lover of the great outdoors.

    But I don’t need anyone else with me to appreciate that. 😁

  10. Posted August 30, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking the COVID lockdown, etc. is not nearly as depressing as a Trump re-election would be. Just saying.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for bringing that up, Paul. 🙂

    • Historian
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Here’s what terrifies me. At the Washington Monthly, David Dayen fears this for Trump’s second term:

      “The message is that Trump will break free of the meager constraints that have shackled him in his first term, to unleash a full authoritarian nightmare in his second—and beyond. The RNC doesn’t need a platform because it will be whatever Trump wants. There won’t be any more racial justice protests because Trump will just put them down as brutally as Putin does, with the help of the “very fine people” in the far-right militias to whom he gives tacit or not-so-tacit consent. There won’t be any more Constitutional constraints on his becoming president for life, because he doesn’t intend to follow that law any closer than he follows the Hatch Act. There won’t be any check on the ability of his personal vizier Attorney General to lock up political opposition on any supposed pretext. He will lead the final charge and conquest by Red America over Blue Non-America.”

      Can this actually happen in a Trump second term? It certainly can. Is democracy on the line? That is beyond question. Defeating him is the only way to prevent it for sure, unless he attempts a coup against democracy, which is not out of the question. And his cult will cheer him on. This quip is perhaps applicable. What’s the difference between a religion and a cult? In a religion, the savior dies for the people. In a cult, the people die for the savior.

      https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/08/29/trumps-message-isnt-confused-hes-promising-a-dictatorship/

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I agree. Also a chance of some kind of civil war if Trump steals this election.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 30, 2020 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

          I agree too. And it’s not just the US that will suffer either. The entire democratic world will be in trouble. There are other countries that will struggle to retain democracy, such as several in Eastern Europe. Those of us who will have no problem maintaining democracy will still have to deal with things like political refugees. Just due to the pandemic we already have over 100,000 US citizens who’ve applied to move to NZ. That would get much worse if Trump won a 2nd term. Countries much bigger and closer would be in much greater demand.

          Also, there’s the issue of the biggest military not being on the side of democracy anymore.

          • Posted August 30, 2020 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

            Actually, I would like to think the US military would not be on Trump’s side if he attempted to misuse it. He’s already done enough questionable things involving military issues that I suspect all in the upper echelons have thought about what they would do if they were put in an awkward position. On the other hand, Trump has a great talent and position to make things appear however he wants them to. Let’s hope the vote goes decisively against Trump. It’s our only hope.

  11. Steve Gerrard
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I have worked at home before, and have been less outwardly active for several years due to back issues. As a result the basic shutdown of social activity and working at home was not that big a deal for me.

    However, I have noticed that my work on longer term software development projects is less effective than it used to be. I do the daily support activities with no problem, and am often amazed at the remote desktop connections that can be made from my house to someone else’s house two states away.

    But I think a general anxiety about the whole mess makes me less productive on longer term project work. It is harder to get the right perspective and work up the enthusiasm for it.

  12. Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Have you noticed tension in your jaws and teeth? I think I’m grinding and lately I’ve had to consciously relax my face.

    But I’m getting in way more workouts (my job has private gyms).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      I grind my teeth at night and messed them up big time because of it so now I have a custom made mouth guard. It has bites in it. I had to get a full one because my teeth shifted and this helps hold them in place as well.

    • Matthew Jenkins
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      When this began, the female staff at work (operating theatres) were noticeably swearing a lot more. We were all scared for several days until it became clear that the danger was not as great as we’d thought. One theatre nurse, when told to go and assist on a Covid ward, famously hid in a cupboard.
      I remember watching the news nightly and observing the march of cases across the country, ever closer to Somerset, and realising this must have been how it was in the time of the plagues. I moved into my parents’ holiday cottage in a remote village so that I wouldn’t infect my wife, who has fibrosis on a lung from radiotherapy. It was also on my mind that it would be a good place to die.
      We were very tired and it was normal to fall asleep on the sofa on a day off after breakfast and wake up at four.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        In the beginning of the lock down I was anxious and every day I watched the PM (I’m in Canada) at 11 AM when he did his daily address. I think this was helpful. I only watched officials and ignored all the other silliness going on in social media and the press that focused on Covid exclusively. I only read a couple of news sources like CBC and BBC. At one point we all said at work that it was easy to think everywhere was like NY but it wasn’t like that where we were.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 30, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

          Most NZers did the same. They watch the PM and CEO of the Ministry of Health (and others if they’re on) each day for all the official news. There’s some rubbish on social media of course, but few went for it thankfully. The PM rarely does it now unless there’s an important announcement. The CEO of the MoH has become a bit of a folk hero. His image was printed on to t-shirts and bags which were sold to make money for Women’s refuges.

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Ah, you and I are in similar boats. I work in EMS and regularly, at least in the first few months, deal with very sick individuals and so I’m high risk for carrying/infection. My wife has similar conditions and we’ve been “separated” to reduce risk to zero. I know where my tension is coming from and patience is probably the only answer. With the confused communication cycle, even though I know better, complete engineered distancing is the best course. Mostly for her sake, even though I know it wears trebly upon her.

    • Msheu
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      I work in healthcare but it is also topsy-turvy with layoffs and closings. But I still have work, although with new stresses. Mostly though, I feel like I am waiting. Waiting for the bad things to end (Covid) or waiting for the other shoe to drop (Trump..or upswing in Covid). Just waiting for the Next Thing to happen, and not exactly expecting it to be good.

    • Posted August 31, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes! I broke a cusp off the molar last week. No pain, fortunately, but the repairs will make this tooth about twice as costly as my computer.

      • Posted August 31, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Oh dear, how unfortunate. I hope your suffering is slight.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Yes, my teeth are always going through some sort of something. I’m glad I have a good dental plan because my molars have suffered – one is an implant & I’ve had a couple of root canals so those are crowns as well.

  13. Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I live in Ireland, and maybe I’m lucky, but the pandemic has made little difference. I am lucky I could work throughout the lockdown (psychology), so my income didn’t suffer. I still read lots. I don’t suffer anxiety but seeing the idiotic Covid denyiers and anti-makers I worry more about what stupidities have been released into the social and political realm. Yes, maybe I’m more irritable when I come to think of it

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      All you more irritated people are simply joining me in my realm of irritability. Welcome. I’ve always been this way. Constantly and generally pissed off with everyone else yet trying to remain understanding and polite and recognizing everyone else is probably just as pissed off at me and then finding that highly amusing and a bit satisfying.

      • Raskos
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        The Canadian existential dilemma. At least we can get it all out in the hockey rink.

      • Lee
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        “…and then finding that highly amusing and a bit satisfying.”

        That ability is a great gift. I’m trying to teach my daughter, as she learns to drive, to take some positive pleasure in making impatient people behind her wait while she drives at a speed at which she feels maximally comfortable and in control. It’s not sociopathy- it’s a survival skill. 🙂

      • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:13 am | Permalink

        😱😝😙

  14. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    With the isolation and tRump, I have felt anxious more often. Taking long walks in nature helps and hard exercise banishes anxiety in my case and helps with sleep. I find I have to get out of breath and sweaty to get the benefits.

  15. Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I think listening to music helps a lot and getting outdoors, doing anything. I can barely stand to watch the news or the talk shows. Reading the entries at your site greatly helps me and am always disappointed when they stop for the day. I am retired too, but still have research projects that keep me going. I fear when they will end. It is nearly impossible to travel to my places of research (Croatia and Italy) and I miss the fossils and my friends there. I am also becoming really afraid of the radical right and the gun owners. So, now I am depressed too. But I look forward to T-rump’s loss.

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      There is no local opera (Santa Fe Opera) so I’ve found listening to opera has really helped. Usually I only listen to opera at the opera and pop music when at home, but I’ve integrated a lot more classical back into the playlist.

  16. jim batterson
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    This will be much longer than usual: I am experiencing many of the pessimistic characteristics that commenters have mentioned above – at least relative to normal life. I think the uncertainty of how this virus will play out (I think that there is always uncertainty in the best cases of biology – it’s a virus jake!), which is exacerbated by a totally incompetent and ineffective set of political leaders to unleash a coordinated federal scientific and technical bureaucracy on the problem. More than incompetent and ineffective, we have a federal leadership that appears not to believe in a role for government. There are some things that government can do well – coordinating a national/international response to a pandemic is one of those things. I feel for kids who are trying to get through school and those who have just graduated and would like to get started on a career, but are stuck. My wife and I are quarantined in our house except that I go out once a week to the market and as I am getting a better feel for the virus’s behavior, I will go out every couple of weeks to our local bookstore for a 15 minute browse and once a week to pick up take-out at one of two restaurants. I really miss having one or two meals a week out, meeting friends and family for a relaxed meal. Being in my 70’s and a retired engineere, I had spent much of my time before covid 19 reading; I now read even more and have the time to watch TWiV (This Week in Virology at microbe.tv/twiv) zoomcasts which are approximately two hours each, produced two or three times a week by some virologists led by vince racaniello from Columbia university. Though mostly research PhD’s, their guests often include clinical MD’s such as DR Daniel Griffen who provides an update as to how things are going with covid in the real world They also tend to vet recent papers and CDC announcements. It has been interesting to watch in real time how the research and clinical communities have advanced in their understanding of the virus and its associated disease. Jerry’s reference to peevishness is right on and because he has mentioned that a couple of times, I am aware of the condition and try to catch myself. Finally, I join with 4-6 retired 70-somethings several days a week for a 4-5 mile walk around a lake on a hilly, wooded trail near our house…even with the temperatures in the 90’s (F) and dewpoints in the 70’s most of the past three months. Oh yes I do shave first thing each morning, followed by coffee, reading WEIT (if it is after 0730 EDT)and a hard copy WAPO, but have not ironed a shirt since march. That all said, things could be much much worse….i liken this period to two a day high school football practices or studying for comps…just need to get through it.

  17. Ruthann Richards
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    My life has always tended toward solitude since I’m an introvert, but it is depressing and alienating not to be able to get together with the few good friends I have. Although the virus in my area is not out of control, going out for necessities like groceries is still anxiety-producing, though not as bad as at first. I do exhibit most of the same symptoms as PCC(E), but am managing to sleep fairly well with the help of Melatonin.

    Occasionally I suddenly yell at my cats–an indication that there is much anger and frustration not far below the surface. When other unexpected annoyances occur (like one of my trees coming down in the storm a couple of days ago), they weigh on me more heavily than they normally would. Although the virus affects me both consciously and subconsciously, if we had a POTUS who was actually using science to try to manage the situation and who actually cared about someone other than himself, that would make a significant difference.

    As it is, no one is in control, and when the CDC tries to give science-based advice, it is immediately undermined by the idiot in charge. This time is extremely stressful for many reasons, but I think the fact that the idiot could win the election weighs on me even more than the virus. I have no idea how I would get through another term.

  18. dom
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a too-long comment & it disappeared, arrrgh! but it reflected a lot of what you said…

    “We live as we dream, alone.”
    Conrad

    “Nothing matters very much, & most things don’t matter at all.”
    Attributed to Balfour

    “For when youth passes with its giddy train,
    Troubles on troubles follow, toils on toils,
    Pain, pain, forever pain;
    And none escapes life’s coils…”
    Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus

    😵😬🤭😘

  19. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I consider myself very lucky during this mess. Not having to work and being retired makes such a thing much easier I think. I do think about all the people that have lost their jobs or had their lives turned upside down due to all the problems. I went for a hair cut the other day and noticed not much business so I asked and heard that business was really down. So here I saw people who are working under stress every day, all day long and now worried about their jobs. I know anyone in the restaurant business is either out of business or doing poorly. The retail businesses are also in bad shape except for Amazon and Walmart and few others.

    I think the worst thing is people do not know how bad it really is. If the overall unemployment rate is currently 11% it will soon be much worse. Thousands of people in the airline business will soon be laid off because the money from the govt. runs out. Lots of state employees will be laid off because the republicans have said no to any assistance to the states. They cannot run debt like the federal govt. and must cut. So even if the election goes the way we want, there will be lots of problems and no easy fixes.

  20. C.
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been living with anxiety since birth, both general and social, and depression since sophomore year of high school. I’ve tended towards cynical solitude the majority of my 43 years, though I still feel the pull of the desirability of conversing with like minds, as difficult as they are to find due to location and anxiety. I still long to meet a pleasant soul of similar nature to share the reminder of my years with but it’s been 8 years since I even tried. All of these issues existed prior to the pandemic but all have been exacerbated by it. I no longer find solace in the gym, focus for reading is spotty, Home cleanliness is well below comfortable standards but I keep up personal grooming, well, if I must venture out or have a zoom meeting. I eat too much, drink too much, sleep too much, and generally feel like a deflated balloon. And then I start reading the news and get REALLY depressed. It’s hard to feel hopeful for any future worth living in. Sometimes I find solace in nature, distraction in old tv shows, but all joy is fleeting. It seems as though feeling numb is better than the empty black rot.

  21. Posted August 30, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I’m largely in the camp of those who enjoy solitude. My “work,” which to me is play for which people pay me – not bad! – can be done from home, and I have a half-acre in my small mountain town on which to fool around. I feed birds, especially corvids like ravens and magpies, who receive a whole raw fryer chicken a day plus whatever other meaty detritus we generate, and who return this investment many times over by amusing me with their antics. I muck about in the gardens, such as they are in this semi-arid climate, and I move my stuff around like an old miser shifting his piles of coins. I listen to classical music on the web radio and read the books that clutter the horizontal surfaces (including floors) of my home.
    I do get out; I hike in the vast wilderness surrounding my town, from the abyss of the Rio Grande Rift to the tops of the mountains. Occasionally I drive to the outskirts of Albuquerque and mess with my grandsons and family; my daughter and son-in-law are academics insulated from the pestilence by Zoom, and my grandsons are privately educated likewise, so we feel confident in gathering and fossicking about in the countryside or cooking fancy meals together.
    My excellent wife, on the other hand, is a social being; I fear that she’s irked in some ways by this pandemic, although she does not complain about it. She is a relentless joiner-of-things-that-can-no-longer-be-attended, being part of the town classical chorus and of several book clubs, etc., and she enjoys socializing with her buddies at the many cafés that used to permit this sort of thing. She was accustomed to flying to visit her mother and other relatives several times a year, but the pestilence and her mother’s death have put a stop to all that. On the other hand, she does “essential” work in our small local hospital’s surgical department, where various emergencies and the exigencies of organizational politics keep her mind clear and snappy, so she manages in good order withal.
    With regard to politics, since so many mention it, I live in a mandatory-masking state (New Mexico), but a state that attracts tourists from all over. Many of these are anti-maskers from Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma, and they are much in evidence on our streets. If the matter comes up (I generally try to avoid it, but they laugh at us for being plague wussies), I like to thank the maskless politely for their generosity in visually signaling to us their status as carriers of the virus so that we may avoid them. This generally seems to quiet them down rather nicely.
    As for the peculiar Mr. Trump and his ilk, I regard them as inclement weather outside my control and therefore not worthy of my emotional involvement. No matter whom I vote for, I know that in my stodgily Democratic state Biden will take the electoral college.
    Too, as a Democrat ashamed of the machinations of my party’s national apparat, I can vote for whomever assuages my conscience, assured as I am that Biden will take that cake anyway as far as New Mexico is concerned. Biden lost me when he declared in advance his intent to choose a running-mate on the basis of genetic profile (non-European female). While I don’t care about the genetic makeup of politicians as humans, I am a product of a strong liberal background and consequently have a strong animus against choices of personnel based on genetic profiling. Such to me is just racism, or some other -ism based upon inborn biological rather than demonstrably earned capacity. I say blah to that, as well as to Biden’s and the DNC’s insistence that Americans must pay so barbarously to support the income of stockholders of private insurance companies, etc. Don’t get me started on my damned political party.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      “I move my stuff around like an old miser shifting his piles of coins.” I noted that I have taken to habits of an elderly man (even though I am a woman) by saving elastics, good bags (especially zip-lock ones) & bubble wrap.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        “habits of an elderly man”

        Heh. When my mom died she left us an enormous collection of toothpicks. And enough Tamari sauce to float a small ship. I wonder what useless items I’ll leave mass quantities of when I join the choir invisible.

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Diana MacP. said:
        “I noted that I have taken to habits of an elderly man (even though I am a woman) by saving elastics, good bags (especially zip-lock ones) & bubble wrap.”
        I always save bubble wrap. I have a big fat cat who likes to pop the bubbles meticulously with his canine teeth, bubble by bubble, pop, pop, pop. He’s so amused thereby that it keeps me amused too, so I parse the bubble wrap out to him when he and I become antsy.

        • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

          We need you to video that & send to PCC[E]!!!
          😃

          • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:34 am | Permalink

            I said, “…I have a big fat cat who likes to pop the bubbles meticulously with his canine teeth, bubble by bubble…”
            Uninteresting Things responded:
            “We need you to video that & send to PCC[E]!”
            My video skills are about on a par with those of Pilgrim, the big fat bubble-popping cat, but I shall try, if only to end this bloody pandemic and defeat the Forces of Evil Stupid.

  22. Blue
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    One word within this post causes me to have
    a flashback, a reflecting one, that is, and
    one not caused by this particular pandemic,
    ” Das ist streng verboten ! ”

    I used to have three small children.
    Ones, as a Commander’s handmaid, whom
    I alone grew in to Their First Selves
    and bore / bulldozed out.

    Then, because he was The Commander
    and I was merely the handmaid, … …
    then I had zero small children.
    ” Verboten. ” ” Streng verboten ! ”
    No custody. No visitation. No touch.
    No contact of a(ny) sort. Years.
    Multiiple years’ worth. The Commander’s dictate.
    ( Upheld by 23 of 25 total, involved
    [ USA ] judges. Over seven years’ litigation – time.
    Upheld by 23 judges, all of these of
    the gender which … … one can guess. )

    I used to have a career. Then, also not
    caused by any viral nor bacterial pandemic
    but one caused by the pandemic for which
    there is no vaccine, and never will be,
    that is, of sexism, I did not. ” Verboten ”
    it became. Fittingly =
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ng2bLqtgSk.

    I used to have a lover. Then, also not
    caused by an infectious agent but by
    pancreatic cancer, I did not. ” Verboten ”
    he became. From our first knowledge thereof
    to his end … … a mere 2 – 1/2 months’ time.
    Fittingly = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpwdwbO1uvM.

    Denial is my d e f a u l t. One can guess,
    then: I quite like solitude and reclusion.
    Some 29 years’ time on ? At this particular
    pandemic year of Things Streng Verboten ?
    A hermitess I willingly remain.

    This ? This year ? This is nothing.

    Blue

    • Mike
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      @Blue I love your posts here. That one is poetry. One gets just a little jolt of encouragement from it, of the “Bring it on!” sort. Thanks.

      • Blue
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        What a darling statement from you, FULL Moon Friend – Mr Mike ! the C O R N Moon ! I have A Thing for three word – phrases. For ones which .are not / are never. Woke’s ” I Love You, ” that is. My most favored is … … ” Deal With It. ” A quite close second is, now, ” Bring It On ! “

    • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      😬
      Xxx

      • Blue
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        What is being told to me, uninterestingthings aka Dominic ? i) a grimacing face with ii) Xxx … … which means, according to dictionary.com, thus: ” can be used to censor the word sex in print and digital content where the term may be considered inappropriate and can also be used to call attention to the sexual nature of some product, service, or item ? “

  23. Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Real burden lies with my children (13,16). They are swimmers and with no competition, this is very hard on them. Socially, there is, as of yet, only remote learning. This is also very hard.

    Athletes and students who excel at their events/subjects are being disadvantages as the pandemic tends to leverage everyone’s abilities into one clump.

    Paradoxically, inequalities are very likely to get worse. Those who work hard and have parents who help them through this time will be far better off than those who have little support from family and friends.

    It will be an interesting outcome with a lot more inequalities after the pandemic. I’ve already seen colleges, strapped for money, admitting anyone who will be willing to pay for college. Interesting times.

  24. Charles Minus
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Ditto on most of what Jerry said. I try to get through some of the hard spots by reminding myself how lucky I am to be isolated in this small space with the woman I love, while so many are alone. I don’t know how the widows I know living alone cope, but it must be no fun.

  25. GBJames
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Boy is this familiar. Except I still sleep fine and shave every day.

  26. ladyatheist
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The loquaciousness may be real. When the weather got better, I started taking walks around the neighborhood. I encountered neighbors I’d never met before, and I was glad to meet them. They sometimes talked too much, and I thought, “wow, everybody’s lonely – not just me.” An irony of loneliness is that you don’t think about other people being lonely, apparently.
    I am also sleeping less, according to my fitbit. If I get more than 5 hours it’s a remarkable thing. Sometimes I am awake for two hours after going to bed for no reason. Just not sleepy.

    I have gotten very angry with maskless people, but otherwise just happy to see other people.

    But then this week I went back to the office. The ambient noise of people talking really got on my nerves. I don’t remember being so annoyed by that. So far I have barely gotten a thing done because I don’t have the same feeling that I had at home that I had to prove myself valuable and productive. Just being there warming my chair felt like I was “working.”

    I have been reading the Black Lives Matter books (How to be Anti-Racist, So you want to talk about race, White Fragility, etc.) and arguing with my white friends on Facebook who parrot right-wing racist talking points. Well, maybe not arguing, just debating…. It’s not a subject I’ve gotten into in a big way before, but I wanted to understand that point of view and the vocabulary they use, then wound up explaining it to others who won’t read those books.

    Fortunately, I have two d*gs that need me, and they love petting and loving. They make me want to have another quarantine.

  27. Alan Jardine
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones. I retired 18 years ago and before that a good part of my job was home-working.

    Although my poor health meant that I had to self-isolate from the beginning of the crisis, I have a large garden that I can walk around and am surrounded by family who live nearby and do my shopping – and I live with my loving wife (who also cuts my hair!)

    Living in Scotland, I don’t have the direct worries about what Trump will do to the U.S. if he gets back in in November. However,I do worry about what the moron will do to the environment.

    My days are not too much different from before the pandemic. I cook for my wife and I, read much the same as before, listen to classical music on BBC Radio 3 – and look forward to reading the Hili dialogues with my lunchtime sandwich!

    Please don’t give them up, Jerry!

    Alan.

  28. revelator60
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    PCC, have you considered taking a road trip? You would have to limit yourself to outdoor attractions and take-out food only, but there must be many natural attractions in driving distance. Hotels would be a slight risk, but I haven’t heard many reports of infections arising from them (and there’s always the option of renting a motor-home!).

  29. Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    What I personally hate the most is how godamn normal this new way of life has become. Doing anything like we used to will be very strange!

    Imagine: One day going to a restaurant and just sitting down at a big table, with people at tables next to you.

    Imagine: Going to a movie theater. It is already crowded. You maneuver down the seats to sit next to strangers. Won’t that be a moment?

    Imagine: {insert your own story).

    • C.
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I’ve noticed how those once normal things like city streets, restaurants, sporting events, all seem so bizarre whenever I see them in movies and tv. It’s only been a bit over 6 months but it might as well be a lifetime ago. Clapping someone on the back, hugs, handshakes, a kiss on the cheek…even the recent past seems an almost alien world.

    • Alexander
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      My insert:

      I’m not going to the barber to get a hair cut, but fuss a bit with scissors myself, more or less successfully. My wife is American and we watch CNN a lot. I noticed that the CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is not getting a haircut, which reinforces my idea to stay out of barbershops.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Imagine not being able to mute people in a meeting 😆

      • kelskye
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 3:09 am | Permalink

        I am not looking forward to face-to-face meetings when I eventually am dragged back to the office. At least now I can put myself on mute when I’m not speaking and just play the guitar while others drone on inconsequentially.

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      I visited my old home in Berlin a couple of months ago (train travel is fairly safe here with masking & distancing). I had to catch a bus, and when the bus showed up, it had a sign on it saying don’t get on, end of trip.

      Those signs are often wrong, so I made a polite wave of the hands to ask if I could get on, and the bus driver put on a mask, opened the door, and yelled at me that I’m an idiot and didn’t I see the sign? So I put on my mask, and yelled at him that signs are often wrong because the bus drivers are idiots.

      Then I realised that Berlin hasn’t changed at all since I left, nor has the virus hindered some forms of behaviour.

      • Wunold
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Yep, that sounds like a typical Berlin bus driver. 😀

        One of my fondest memories is about one who said the following over the loudspeaker (translated from German):

        “Well, as long as some of you keep the rear door from closing, we won’t go anywhere. I don’t care, I’ve brought my sandwiches with me.”

  30. Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Like some others here, and unlike PCC, I am not particularly sociable, so I am not missing out much on that front. In fact, I am enjoying having fewer social obligations. Unlike PCC, I have a house and yard to keep up. Unlike other years, this year the chores are actually getting done. I miss dining out, going to concerts and traveling, and I am getting tired of reading. When I am bored, I try out new things that I would not have done without the pandemic, like learning Python and speaking Spanish. I go outdoors as much as I can. All in all, I’m getting by.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      I suspect there are a lot of us like you on this issue. Not very sociable and therefore, not a whole lot of change anyway. When I was still working I moved a lot so did not make many long term friends. Three years here, five there and other move. Have only lived in Wichita four years so not many here either. The biggest change is not getting out to eat or going to a movie. Nearly all of our relatives are dead now and the few I have left I don’t see anyway. Life goes on.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I mis wandering into stores to look at stuff.

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Can’t you do that in Canada, or are you being cautious? In Seattle, you can wander around stores to your heart’s content as long as you wear a mask and respect social distancing. Since I don’t do that normally, it’s a wash for me. Living in Seattle, I get same or next day delivery from Amazon on stuff I need.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s not as fun because a lot of places have social distancing in place which means you stand in line before entering the store. Also, I don’t like to go to a store for frivolous reasons right now. Why risk it? If I’m going down with covid, it’s for medication, not boredom, damn it!

          I used to like to wander a mall. With foot issues I couldn’t but not my feet have much improved and I can’t. St least not without risk and also it’s spoiled with the lines and such.

          • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            I had your foot issue. To relieve my plantar fasciitis, I over did exercises that then caused tendonitis in my Achilles. Together they near crippled me. It took me over a year and careful exercise to recover. I sympathize.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

              Yeah you know in your mind how important your Achilles is but when you experience it, it really hits home. I have had plantar fasciitis too and it flares up sometimes still. I actually have insertional tendonosis which is a damaged Achilles from years of strain so with itis some anti inflammatory treatments work but not to with osis because it is damage that should have been addressed during itis. Luckily, the scarring – spurs – are beneath my heal which is good because some people end up with the spurs shredding their Achilles. Mine is from having flat feet and the wrong orthotics to compensate. I have the correct orthotics now but I had glucose injections that are supposed to irritate and cause healing. Irritate they did which literally crippled me and after I was bed bound for a week with only getting up to practically crawl to the bathroom. Then it took about 2 years to recover from that nonsense. My whole ankle swells up on both feet. What I’ve come to realize is I have systemic inflammatory issues but all tests show I don’t have an autoimmune disease. Every doctor asks if I have diabetes or lupus then tests me anyway thinking I wouldn’t know by now if I never healed or had massive infections. So at least the ortho I saw was really good and I’m now waiting for the rheumatologist to see me. We may consider Hummera typically given for arthritis. But I have joint pain everywhere though it’s not arthritis so I hope I can get something anyway. I can’t take NSAIDS because I have chronic migraines and NSAIDS give you medication overuse (rebound) migraines which basically double or triple the amount of migraines I get per month.

              • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

                It is frustrating when medical science fails you. I have a debilitating inner ear problem. I have had umpteen tests and scans and still no one knows what it is. The medical term is “idiopathic”, which translated means “We have no idea in hell what it is or how to treat you.”

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

                Haha I like your definition. It’s like when they say “itis” which just means inflammation so they are basically just telling you what you already know and symbolically going, “ta-dah!” after.

              • Mike
                Posted August 30, 2020 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

                Ruptured Achilles tendon was unbelievably painful. Like being shot. And made a horrible popping noise when it blew.

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      My theory is a great many people are relieved at having a good reason to avoid so much social contact. They were only doing it so much because everyone else does.

  31. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Thank g*d for the Internet.

  32. Maren
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Jerry,

    I am so thankful for your recent insights about yourself. I am retired and will be 72 in November, lucky to have no financial concerns, and should be really enjoying this stage of my life. I too am having trouble concentrating and sleeping and fear that Trump will be reelected in November and will further destroy our confidence in government (I was a career federal employee) and our standing in the world. The most perplexing thing to me is why some of my family members and closest relatives can support Trump. I’m also deeply troubled that a large proportion of our population believes that racism does not exist. Bottom line, I am confused, angry, anxious and not feeling that my own mental health is stable.

    • Jim batterson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Pretty much ditto maren, except i find that i can keep mental health stable by not watching video of the moron or his minions insane pronouncements and lies. I also am 72, a retired federal employee (nasa), sleep issues, and some relatives (mostly the wealthy ones) who support the moron in chief. Hate to see our former colleagues discounted and their infrastructure destroyed…both for their and the nation’s well being. But thereis a lot of inertia in the system if we can just get back to normal rules of operation on jan 20.

  33. Mark Cagnetta
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    My anxiety started a few months ago. I feel claustrophobic and restless. I have an ominous feeling of impending doom. One day I walked around the house so much my legs hurt the next day. This is all new to me. tRump has taken away my own control over my life. My well-deserved vacation is also on hold!

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      I think the tRump factor and the social unrest is clearly adding to everyones’ stress, even if they are otherwise far removed from politics or effected cities.

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I woke up this morning feeling sick in the stomach about the election and the direction the US is sending the rest of the world. I’m going to avoid the news as much as possible for the next few months.

      (I’m in the 17% of readers of readers on this site who see a Trump remaining in office as the most likely outcome. If you give power to someone like that, you won’t get it back off him.)

      Here in Germany, the lockdown has been more or less over for a couple of months. I work in a high school, and the kids generally follow the regulations extraordinarily well. It’s not without danger for me, and I take what precautions I can to minimise risk to myself and others.

      If the US had the same death rate as Germany, it would have had about 30,000 deaths. The trouble is that the more dangerous the virus is, the harder it will be for Democrats to vote.

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        On my doctor’s orders, I avoid tRump news as much as possible. Not easy to do.

  34. Shirley Beaver
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Jerry. One of the effects of isolation on me has been to become even more pedantic about language (if that is even possible!).

    In para. 5 of your discussion, I’m sure you have to REIN in your anger, not REIGN it in.

    A common, but irritating, mistake…

    Shirley Beaver

    >

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      I noticed that myself and corrected it before the pedants descended! It’s an embarrassing error, I’ll admit

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        The word rein derives from a word meaning “a bond, check” from a verb meaning “to hold back. It’s related to retain.

        The word reign derives from a Latin word for kingship. To reign means to exercise the power of a king. The sense of this “reign” has become conflated with the expression “to give free rein to.”

        The confusion has become so complete that it’s beyond correction.

        • Posted August 30, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

          At least PCC did not write “…
          have to rain in my anger…”, as a generation Z might do.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

            Or I would because I am homophonophobic.

            • dom
              Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:40 am | Permalink

              You are also Great! Even if you are grumpy
              😁

  35. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always, since the Internet was delivered at high speed and became fairly reliable, been a remote work advocate so I am happy working from home forever. I have to drive about half an hour to work (a good drive and my best commute so far in all my years working) but I pay over $50 to the place I work for to park 1 km away. This means I’m stuck at work all day and appointments to see doctors is are difficult. Working from home I get a heck of a lot more done because I’m not as fatigued dealing with the commute and I can see doctors easily. During working from home I’ve seen my orthopaedic surgeon, my optometrist, my dentist, my neurologist, My podiatrist, and I’ve had an MRI. I will see a new ophthalmologist in October. My biggest concern is I need a mammogram scheduled in November and my GP’s office seems to be dragging their feet and I fear a lockdown causes me to miss my appointment and the cancer will return and be worse than ever. So I have to keep on top of it.

    I haven’t travelled for 11 years. Even when I went back then, I had chronic migraines. Now I have chronic migraines and foot issues so I just stopped. So I already lost that before the pandemic. Happily, my foot issues aren’t as dire as they were because my surgeon prescribed a lotion to deal with the nerve pain.

    My sleep is bad. I often get 4 or 5 hours a night which is bad for my chronic issues. I’ve started reading again at night & not eating before bed. That seems to help. I tend not to eat in the mornings so sometimes I’m hungrier at night. I’ve always been a night owl so the imposed 9-5 is hard on me.

    It sounds like you are depressed, Jerry. If you haven’t already, you may want to talk to your doctor about it. When I was clinically depressed, I became very numb, couldn’t sleep ever, and took no interest in the things I liked doing.

    • Greg Geisler
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      I second this, Jerry. As someone who has suffered from depression my entire teen and adult life, much of what you are describing are classic symptoms of depression. I have had all of those and worse. Don’t rule out therapy and/or pharmaceutical solutions. They really do work.

      Talk to your GP or a psychiatrist. This covid situation is not going to go away any time soon. Best to you.

  36. Grant
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Because of my PTSD I loathe large crowds and lots of people. I really only trust a very small circle of friends, so in some ways the isolation requirements haven’t been to bad. In Newcastle NSW where I live there have been minimal cases so we have freedom of movement but large gatherings are still not an option. I am back at University for one lecture a week now where about 40 students sit in a concert hall for a lecture. The concert hall houses about 400 people so crowding isn’t an issue.

    • Grant
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      However, I also have a suppressed immune system So the limited social contact I do have is fraught. Going out subjects me to panic attacks. The downside being I started to self medicate on some addictive meds. Fortunately the doctors caught this issue because I was able to recognise it also.

  37. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Don’t feel like the old Lone Ranger, boss.

    I’m suffering some — some, but not all — of the same symptoms. I’ve never been a big telephone gabber, not even when talking to girlfriends back in high school. Now, my social calls are limited to my sons, my siblings, and my best friend — the people I’m closest to in the world. (People outside that circle, I keep thinking I’ll call them in a couple days, but never do). And even with the people I do talk to, I find myself looking for a convenient spot to end the conversation. (Afterwards, especially with my sons, I’ll feel guilty as hell, recalling that in all the telephone conversations I ever had with my own father — who wasn’t a big phone gabber himself — not once did he ever give me the feeling that he was looking to end the conversation first, as I’m sure my sons have sensed with me.)

    I haven’t experienced anger as such, but interrupted sleep, lethargy, and impatience, for sure. And this has even extended to my reading. When we first went to shelter-in-place, a part of me was actually looking forward to it, thinking I could get down to some serious reading. Time was, and it wasn’t long ago, if I could avoid interruptions, I could knock out a hundred pages or more of a novel a day. Now, I find myself paging ahead to see if there’s a chapter break, or even just a double spacing between paragraphs of prose, coming up to serve as a convenient place to take a break.

    And as for shaving, fuggedaboutit — two, three times a week, max. Hell, a month or two ago I went a week without picking up a razor.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I’m not a very hairy woman but have taken such a meh attitude with my legs that I sometimes forget that they haven’t been shaved when I got out but who cares, you can’t see my furry legs because they aren’t all that furry to begin with.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        I had a girlfriend back in the Seventies who didn’t shave her legs. She was a blonde and had this fine, sorta peach-fuzz running all up and down her legs. Wasn’t sure how I’d take to it at first. But the first time we went out, she was wearing a pair of shorts. We were sitting on a porch swing when she lay back, crossed her ankles and draped her legs across my lap. Gotta admit; the feel of those hairs was kinda hawt.

        Thanks for bringing back those memories. 🙂

        • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

          Calm down!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 31, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          I can’t decide if I should read your anecdote in the form of a film noir or a romance novel but o do think you need to write some fiction either way.

  38. Roo
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I can’t really sort out postpartum / new mom effects from social distancing effects. I definitely feel like a very different person than I did two years ago, but I’m not sure what is due to what. Mercifully, one thing that I think is a postpartum thing is feeling half anesthetized much of the time. I guess this is nature’s way of making sure new moms don’t get too wild and adventurous and forget they have a kid, since you have to watch these creatures like a hawk literally constantly or they will instantly find something dangerous and try to eat it. Like instantaneously, a rock will apparate into their mouths out of thin air. So on the plus side, I have not experienced quite the crippling anxiety that many have, although on the downside, I cannot focus on anything even semi-complex to save my life and I feel groggy and uninclined to move most of the time. Not in a negative way, I just feel like “Eh, I’m happy to just zone out on the couch and do nothing while I keep an eye on the baby,” while before I was inclined to run around like the Energizer Bunny at all times.

    Another thing that I’ve found during quarantine (although it’s something I’ve noticed during other periods of my life, when I’m in a funk,) is that I really crave easy little ‘dopamine hit’ type activities. Like I’ll have a ridiculous amount of work to do but still find myself on eBay and Mercari looking for little holiday outfits for my son and his cousins (there’s the thrill of the ‘hunt’ and kind of like a slot machine effect in that you never know what will turn up and if you’ll manage to score a good price, and the super easy factor of not having to do anything but click on buttons. If I played games like Candy Crush I’m sure I’d be doing that like crazy right now, although I’ve never liked app games for whatever reason.) What normally works for getting out of that mode is forcing myself to get out into the world and socialize… that is of course less of an option now, but making myself do that to whatever degree is possible does still help.

    • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Congratulations on the new baby! That’s a beautiful thing. Your child will grow up in a world quite different from ours, I suspect. Children are our future and I raise a toast to yours!

      • Roo
        Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        Aw, thank you!

        • Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:49 am | Permalink

          Had I some bread, I too would raise a piece of toast! 😉

          I believe the children are our future
          Teach them well and let them lead the way
          Show them all the beauty they possess inside
          Give them a sense of pride
          To make it easier
          Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

          🤭

          • Roo
            Posted August 31, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            Thanks! 🙂

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I consider what you describe as little situations as micro breaks. I like probably solving so researching something to do with sprucing up my home office or getting a deal on something is enjoyable for me.

      • Roo
        Posted August 31, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        I agree, I think there is definitely a dynamic tension between gratification and discipline when it comes to one’s state of mind. Too much discipline and I start to feel like a zombie just going through the motions (and I find my ability to think and solve problems creatively shrinks a lot); too much ‘following my own desires’ time and I start to feel like an unreliable flake who is always a day late with paperwork and / or is a terrible meditator (as following around your egoic desires is, as I understand it, considered detrimental to contemplative development.) It’s a fine line to find balance.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          There’s a concept in process improvement about building in slack time to tasks and to deliveries because in slack time you are creative and can think about how to improve things. I am good at preaching that but terrible at following for myself & I always over allocate myself. Sure, it looks good on paper but I fail to take into account my own exhaustion or needs to go pee on occasion. So, I scheduled a bunch of workshops recently & made sure that there was lots of time in between and I had nothing major on the day I’m running them…sadly the reason I did this was because I was asking for the generosity of others in helping me and none of these people were obliged in the least and all work in different departments from me…they are doing it because they find it interesting. So the last thing I wanted to do was over allocate their time. I’m getting better but it’s not easy.

          • rickflick
            Posted August 31, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

            Sounds like a win-win. Congratulations.

          • Roo
            Posted August 31, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

            That’s interesting, what you’re saying about slack time definitely jives with my experience. Glad you’re experimenting with finding the right balance for you!

  39. Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The whole shutdown thing has been a mixed bag for me. Career-wise, it’s scary as hell.
    I’ve been surviving as a freelance children’s entertainer nearly all my adult life (I’ll be 63 soon), so I’m used to an uncertain lifestyle with no real job or retirement security, but this takes things to a whole new level. With the majority of Summer bookings cancelled and nothing on the books ‘till January (and just one show at that!) I’d by lyin’ if I said I wasn’t scared sh*tless, but this does have it’s upside. I changed my lifestyle from that of a night owl to an early bird and now I get up before dawn, shave (I don’t want to feel like I’ve given up), have a poor man’s speedball, (a cup of coffee and a bowl of weed) and then do a good workout with stretching and resistance work punctuated by musical practice before a hardy breakfast. That allows me to start the day feeling vigorous and upbeat, and it also has the side benefit that I haven’t felt this healthy in years!

    Having had to make it by the seat of my pants for all my adult life, I’ve dealt with stress-inducing times of job insecurity before and have adopted the motto that sometimes you don’t know whether you’re falling or flying ‘till you land, so spread your wings and enjoy the ride. Whenever I’m in a situation where I feel like I’m in free fall I act as if I’m flying–double down on my passions and things that I like about my work rather than retreat to a non-existent “Plan B”–and so far it’s always worked; I might come close to a crash, but always manage to catch an updraft and find myself flying again. In that spirit, now that I’m facing what looks like four months of unemployment, I’ve stocked up on enough food, toiletries and (hopefully) cash and savings to survive for four to six months and am going to treat a crisis as an opportunity to woodshed and work on crafting a new show, or at least significantly sprucing up the old one. I’ve set September aside as sort of a personal “boot camp” where I’ll get off social media and only use the car for essential errands in order to focus on work habits and seeing what I can come up with. Although part of me is terrified about the future, another part is more excited than I’ve been for years. In a way, it feels like I’m at the beginning of my career when I didn’t have so many pragmatic considerations and could just concentrate on the pleasure of the craft.

    I also get thru the stress by counting my blessings. I guess I’m lucky to be a gregarious loner, so the isolation doesn’t bother me. What I miss most is the laughter of children which has been such a joyous background to my life. When I think of people who will be evicted, or who have people dependent on them, or on people stuck in stressful relationships with no place to go I realize how fortunate I am! The one stressor that haunts me and I can’t get away from is the fear of Drumph being re-elected, honestly or otherwise.

    Someone upthread suggested day trips as a substitute for long distance travel. Yes to that!!! Gas is currently cheap and sometimes it’s great to get out of town and take nothing but back roads. It’s a great way to clear the mind!

    Good luck to Jerry and all who are feeling the stress of being cooped up! Let’s take out our stress/anxiety/depression on Trump by encouraging others to vote!!!

    (Sorry this is so long, but reading and writing on this particular thread has been very cathartic.)

    • Mike
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      @Rik good luck to you too man! I’m going to steal the line about falling vs. flying. I hope you stick the landing!

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Mike. Now’s a time to live in the moment, but not for the moment!

  40. dani_aq
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I also have been feeling like things that I once enjoyed are a chorus. I wake up at 4 am and can’t sleep anymore! Not fun.. I also don’t feel any pleasure in cooking, preparing food and eating. Everything I eat seems to make me feel disgusted. That is a strange new thing. I think it might be related to the fact that doing groceries online is not so good and going to the supermarket is so scary. As many people said here, I also try to think of the good things, having a job, living with someone I love and having internet to talk to friends.

  41. Steve Pollard
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I retired a few years ago, and my wife retired this year (on UK lockdown day, as it happens). So what’s changed for us?

    – for a few months, we couldn’t meet our kids or grandkids;
    – we had to queue up, and now have to wear masks, to go to the shops;
    – I can’t sing in my local choir, or visit the school where I am a governor, or do my bit of volunteering in the local library.

    On the other hand:

    – we have been in touch with the family even more than usual, through weekly Houseparty sessions (Kent/London/Paris/Italy);
    – we have now been back in face-to-face touch with all of them except our daughter in Italy, where we are going in a couple of weeks’ time (and yes, risking quarantine, but hey, so what?);
    – the school governors’ meetings, and even the choir, work remotely (after a fashion);
    – even in lockdown, we still got out every day for a longish country walk; and I managed the 28-mile circular walk around our town, as I try to do once a year.

    We are more fortunate than many. But all our kids have been resourceful enough to get through this tedious trial in one piece. The ones who have suffered the most have been our grandchildren, who have been deprived of their schools and friends for five months. It’s them we need to concentrate on now, not ourselves!

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      I might add that, since lockdown eased a bit, we have enjoyed sessions in our local pubs, meals in our great local restaurants, and a fantastic al fresco jazz evening. All socially distancing, of course! The ‘new normal’ is surprisingly easy to get used to.

  42. merilee
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  43. Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to all who shared your feelings and experiences here in this doubly disastrous historical period (at least, in the U.S.) of Covid and elections. Singly, cause for grave apprehension. Together, disastrous.

    Like many of you, I am an introvert, so don’t suffer as much from having to remain at home, separated from groups as much as extroverts may. I also inherited depression from my mother and have taken medication for it for years, so I may be less depressed than some who aren’t chronically depressed and treated for it.

    I have been retired for 10+ years and don’t (yet) have to worry about insufficient income. I will soon be 80 but am fortunate in having good doctors and treatment for any health issues I have. If I’ve inherited my female ancestors’ genes, I could live into my 90s (two almost made 100) with reasonably good physical and mental health.

    Most of my family and friends are either no longer living, or have moved somewhere I’ve lost track of them. I have three children, one of whom has come to live with me to keep me safe, and does all the grocery shopping and cooking, etc. We watch a variety of different shows together: news, comedy, science, etc. and hold some very interesting discussions that sometimes requires additional research to determine who is/isn’t “right”. We have thoroughly enjoyed watching five of the six seasons of “Bosch” and I’ll be sad when we finish the sixth season. One more year is planned. One of my daughters is a nurse so I have good health info. All three children maintain close contact with me. I am so grateful for them.

    As a lifelong reader, I do still read a lot, but at a somewhat slower pace than is usual for me. My youngest daughter made the mistake of introducing me to bookoutlet.com where I have such fun looking through all the cheap books for sale and selecting those I want to buy. I doubt that I will be able to read all of them I already had a house full of books. Hope my kids like most of the ones they inherit. And, I continue to be told by my kids, my poetry group and folks here about other books that I must read. Long as I can read, I’ll be busy.

    When I start feeling housebound, I get in my little Prius and travel from Vancouver, WA to south of Salem, OR on beautiful country backroads where I can keep track of changes in terrain, rivers, creeks, little towns, huge pieces of farm equipment, logging trucks, RVs and boaters, seasonal changes in evergreen trees, hay fields, grape vines, corn, other field crops, bee hives, cows, sheep, horses, llamas, solar panels, etc. So much diversity, color and activities. My sense of direction is so poor that I often end up driving places I hadn’t planned to go, so I see scenery I hadn’t planned to see. I have no time limitations. I always ensure I have a full tank of gas and emergency supplies. Every trip is an adventure.

    I have tended throughout my life to be a “glass half full person” and fear that at this time, I tend to the opposite from time to time. But, I can’t remain there and survive. I do so wish the best to all of you.

  44. Posted August 30, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Cheer up Jerry, we all could be living in a disgusting ghetto in the third world – without the benefits of isolation.

    rz

  45. Lee
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    “As I wait for things to resume, I’m conscious of my own mortality: the good years I have left are fewer, and yet most of us can’t do what we want with them—not for now.”

    I remember the old parable of the donkey who dies of starvation when poised between equidistant bails of hay. It seemed funny when I first heard it, but now it’s become a real problem for me. I realize that, given the finite time I have left on earth, choosing to do one thing necessarily implies choosing not to do something else, and I often feel paralyzed with indecision. One of my written life goals is “JUST CHOOSE SOMETHING AND DO IT”. I also try to take adequate time to prioritize my Todo list to minimize the things I would most regret not having done.

    To live so as to have the fewest regrets at the end of life — it seems like it should be a pretty modest goal, but it gets more important the older I get, and the more people I meet who have (or should have) major regrets.

  46. Lee
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I second the comments of many folks here about the value of regular, vigorous exercise. I do a fairly steep 2-mile run up a subdivision to the side of a local canyon 3 – 4 times weekly, and have recently found sufficient energy when I get back down to end with a few extra wind sprints up the steep first part. I’ve been watching my heart rate go down, and have a personal goal for bradycardia to become an “issue” when I make my bi-monthly trek to the Red Cross to donate blood products. I also have opioid-dependent chronic pain, and have been able to cut my usage of oxycodone in half because of the regular infusion of endorphins I get from the running, which has a whole slew of beneficial effects all on its own.

    And for mood control- nothing comes close to the endorphins and inflow of oxygen. My best ideas tend to come at those times. Exercise is definitely a priority at a time like this.

  47. Posted August 30, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m watching outside my downstairs lounge window, monarch butterflies feeding on a flowering willow tree (as I tap)
    I urge the Prof(E) to find a high quality wildlife programme and join them on their daily struggles, I believe it may help get some sense of ‘together’ fortitude against a reckless leader and perhaps rekindle some wonder that here we ALL are with our struggles and achievements.
    Animals in the wild can show us a thing or two about hardship, a good of bad season, a good or bad outcome and move on.
    Whatever you do, do not let trump be a gauge to your state of mind, never surrender to that…
    being flexible with routines and habits? Is just that as long as hygiene does not suffer, who give a a fuck 🤪✌

  48. Posted August 30, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    My husband and I thought we were cool with the self-isolating since we had to be doing that (albeit less stringently) for a couple of years. But then even before this beast was declared a pandemic, we very quickly cut back on all visits from the palliative care health team. That means I became the pick-up-the-slack person, and have had to do all the hygiene things that a PSW (personal support worker) did for my husband until it became necessary. to let the registered nurses back in for weekly, sometimes necessary daily, visits. It’s become very stressful and the fun things I undertook with my daughter (teaching her how to do vegetable gardening in planters) have become tedious and requiring too much time and energy than I have.

    Still, it has been great fun to provide neighbours with sampling boxes of incredible heirloom tomatoes, to taste and to save seeds, in case of a zombie apocalypse. The rare dahlias I’ve planted in pots out front draw a lot of admiring looks from the neighbours, and lead to some brief and friendly tête-à-têtes with the requisite 6 foot span of air. Hehehe… often I know the dogs’ names but not the walkers.

    I have very good days and some days when I just want to run away. My cousins understand this very well, as they have nursed sick or dying husbands too. It’s crazy-making to wear too many hats – cook, bottle-washer, nurse, go-fer, handyperson (had to install several extra handrails and support bars as well as troubleshoot appliance failures, including a platform lift that started screeching like a banshee straight outta hell). I do all the yard work and snow clearing, so now the arthritis in one hip requires a daily dose of Advil! I am sick of multi-tasking, and have lost patience with verbosity, whether written or spoken.

    Hence I apologize for letting loose this diatribe on everyone. Mea culpa.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2020 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      Well I think you are entitled to rant and no mea culpa (my iPad just autocorrected this to MRA culpable haha)is necessary. That is a tremendous load of work for one person and one I think many don’t appreciate.

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the kind words, Diana!

      • Posted August 30, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        On the positive side, I haven’t gained weight, have enjoyed the critters visiting our small but very lush backyard, got to binge guilt-free on The Baztan Trilogy, and Dirty John on Netflix plus movies. It has helped to practically tune out U.S. politics and the Chief of Shenanigans, and to just focus on the most important things in life in my neck o’ the woods. I have become a Sudoku aficionado. But how I miss those “Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” when once I could loll about on the sunny patio and devour an engaging tome!

  49. Sara L.
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I’ve been sensing that you are troubled, but I haven’t seen anything that I think you need to apologize to us for. I’m sure most people understand.

    I live alone, and normally I LOVE my solitude. However, the pandemic situation hit me much harder than I expected it to. I spent the first month or two sleeping poorly, crying often for no reason, and feeling pretty low. Of course I am a rather anxious person at the best of times, but this was beyond anything I had ever experienced before. I am grateful to a few close friends who kept me sane through this period by phoning and video calling regularly. Strangely, though, I found it difficult to keep up my social relationships. I should have used the downtime to reach out to old friends and acquaintances that I hadn’t been in touch with for a while, but it always felt like too much effort.

    Things are a bit better now, especially since I can see friends and family in person (with precautions), but I still struggle with boredom, apathy and anxiety. Playing the harp doesn’t bring any joy at all anymore – I haven’t touched it since the online concert I played almost 2 months ago. I worry about the future, for myself, my loved ones and the world in general, and it is getting harder and harder to maintain hope that better times are coming. I just feel… dull and lonely.

    I’m not sure what it means for a solitude-loving introvert, especially one who has many friends, to feel lonely, but this is where I have ended up. It is a paradox that I cannot explain.

  50. Vaal
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Jerry,

    As a city-loving, sociable type, I share some of your distress and symptoms. The pandemic and lockdowns only emphasize to me that much of what I find worth living for in life is that which we can’t do, or is under threat by the pandemic. For me that’s getting out of the house as much as I can, visiting friends, going to restaurants, movies, having lots of friends over all the time, etc.

    I have tried to keep it up to some degree, talking with friends on the phone, meeting for walks, even did some fine dining on a patio this week with a pal. That was nice!

    I’m 56 and had whipped myself back in to pretty good shape before the pandemic (eating well/exercising) and COVID only re-enforced for me the importance of keeping healthy.
    I’m getting enough exercise to sleep pretty well, but have noticed even sleep is becoming harder as time goes on.

    I work in film post production and haven’t worked since the pandemic started, with no jobs in site at this time. So that is wearing on my mentally, stress mixed with tedium. And I do find myself more snappy, and sometimes hitting a state of inertia that is sort of disorientating. But generally still holding it together.

    I’ve got one son at home, another in Winnipeg Canada who is helping needy communities on a program. Proud of him, but of course worried that he’s in another part of the country where the COVID infections are going up and up.

    My son suffers from anxiety (common for kids on the spectrum) and this can manifest in constant calls asking if he’s having a food allergy reaction (he’s peanut allergic) or if he has covid symptoms or whatever else is spinning through his head. It’s often daily, and through the night. So I’m simultaneously trying to calm him down from another province, while trying to trouble shoot in my own head “is he having a reaction? Is he suffering from Covid?” The constant background worry of COVID in my own mind has lowered my force fields to the point that it’s hard not to absorb his anxiety in to my own. My heart can feel like it’s stopping for an anxious moment when I get the daily calls to trouble-shoot whatever is going on.

    But, that’s being a parent. No one said it’s easy and I’m super proud of my boy!

    Thanks for the chance to vent!

    I can’t wait until we are back to talking about your nom adventures again, and I believe it will be like old times.

  51. kelskye
    Posted August 30, 2020 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    The sleep thing has been the biggest issue for me. When the pandemic first started, I had to cut my coffee intake down because I just wasn’t sleeping properly if I had more than one cup. I’m back to two now as I found I can’t get through the workday without it (thankfully I can work from home), but the sleep is still quite fractured. I often find I wake around the witching hour, sometimes unable to go back to sleep at all, and others after lying awake for a few hours. So some days I’m operating on no more than 4 hours sleep, even though I’m used to 8.

    The biggest psychological hurdle to it is how heavy any decision feels. What normally is inconsequential (shopping, going to cafes, travelling) now have to be planned, and can’t really be decided much in advance. And I’m in a place with currently 0 active cases / 0 community spread, so I can only imagine how hard this is for those who live where contracting the virus is a real risk.

    Just before this pandemic started, we lived through months of bushfire smoke, where we were trapped indoors wearing masks because of how toxic the air was. At the time, I remember feeling how oppressive the smoke was because we couldn’t see an end to it. And this has that same never-ending feel. It’s hard to make plans any distance into the future or away from home because there’s just no way of knowing when things are going to get better.

    I’m not sure if this is related to the pandemic, but I have noticed my obsessive tendencies are coming back. I’ve taken the opportunity to try to watch classic movies and listen to classic albums, which can get more list-ticking than enjoyment fulfilling (though I have found some amazing films and albums I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten around to consuming). That part of my personality has always been around, but it does feel a little heightened now.

  52. David Harper
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a secure job which I can do from home just as (or more!) effectively as I did until March in a crowded, noisy open-plan office. I’m an introvert, so this arrangement suits me very well, and I hope to continue working from home after we return to “normality”. And my wife and I find that we’re content in one another’s company. We joked at the start of the lockdown that this would be a practice run for when I retire in a few years. I think retirement will be just fine.

    My philosophy of life is Stoic in the classical sense. I suffered several sleepless nights and some anxiety for the first few days of lockdown in late March, but that passed, and today I’m more worried about the potentially catastrophic consequences of the UK breaking with Europe with no deal at the end of the year than the Covid-19 crisis, serious though that is. We could face shortages of food and medicines, much of which come from Europe.

    If one thing makes me sad about the Covid-19 crisis at a personal level, it’s that my wife and I are unable to visit her family in Idaho, and we have no idea when we will next see them. Her Mom is in her mid 80s, so time is not on our side.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      My sympathies for having to endure and open plan office. Those are dreadful and I can only conclude thought up by extroverts in sales/marketing.

  53. drosophilist
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Dear Jerry,

    I don’t know how meaningful a comment from an Internet stranger is, but I just wanted to let you know that I love your website and am extremely grateful to you for all the love and care and wit you obviously pour into it. When you’re feeling down because of the pandemic, maybe it will help just a little to know that there are people all over the world who value you and your work.

    If I were still a Christian, I would pray to God to make you happy (and to get rid of this ****ing virus already! His failure to do so is further evidence that he doesn’t exist). As an atheist, all I can do is send you my best wishes for good cheer and peace of mind. I hope at least one of the vaccines now in development turns out to be effective, and when it comes, I hope you’ll enjoy lots of travel and delicious restaurant meals and hanging out with friends.

  54. Greg Geisler
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about your anxiety, JAC. I know there are a lot of people feeling the same way. My shrink told me that business is through the roof! But she also said that some folks who suffer from depression feel a sense of peace because they now have a lot of company! My wife and I are homebodies for the most part and introverts. I have worked from home for 20 years so the solitude is nothing new to me. My workload has suffered a bit as all my clients are small businesses but we are in a good situation and don’t have to stress about income.

    I only have anxiety about the state of our country and the upcoming election. I am with you on the reading. I read a ton of articles online and haven’t read as many books as I usually do. I would offer one suggestion. I go on long (at least one hour) power walks every day. I have to for my mental state and depression. I sweat like crazy (it’s been triple digits down here in Texas) but it leaves me feeling very peaceful and erases any agitation that I might be feeling.

    Your blog is also something that helps me stay sane and I greatly appreciate your insights and how prolific you are in writing. But if it would help you to take a break from it you should. We will survive!

    Hang in there. We need you.

  55. docbill1351
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Having been retired for over a decade, living in the Hunker Bunker has resulted in few changes. I don’t go out for lunch. I don’t impulse shop. I haven’t put gas in my car since March.

    Positive changes are: planning meals better to expedite online shopping. Learning to make corn tortillas, tamales and enchilada sauces (red and green) from scratch.

    The down side has been watching a vast increase in stupidity as politicians and administrators try to “wish away” the virus.

    I am prepared to hunker down all through 2021, I see no “end” in sight, just a series of hills and valleys. *sigh*

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I still impulse shop online and it’s probably worse because it’s right there waiting for me to browser though at any free moment.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      “ I haven’t put gas in my car since March.”

      If it doesn’t have stabilizer like Sta-Bil in it since then, it will go bad shortly, if not already. If stored in the heat, that will have a big affect on gas lifetime. Getting rid of bad gas is not trivial – might require a tow to a repair shop.

  56. Posted August 31, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m an introvert and am living with the best person I could possibly spend this time with. We enjoy funny things together (e.g. listening to Pluto Living). We’re mostly retired. I can go out and enjoy wild areas nearby. We can afford to have things delivered. I’m lucky.

    Nonetheless, this is getting to me. Even I would like to see friends more. I’ve been grinding my teeth so hard that I just broke a tooth. I sail along well but then get angry or upset more easily than normal. There are several work-related projects I could usefully do at home. I intend to do them, but so far I haven’t. (I feel guilty about that.) I’ve gained weight. My office is disappearing under piles of stuff. My favorite clothes are getting shabby (or shabbier) from over use. I find simple transitions hard — going outside, visiting a different park, working on a different project, sometimes even stepping into the shower (i.e., transitioning to wetness). A relative is going down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole and I want to persuade her otherwise — but that’s useless. Usually I read widely, but right now I just want mystery thrillers — books that grab my attention and are tense.

    And then there’s the political situation! Sigh. I hope 2022 is very different.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 31, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I spent considerable time spiffing up my home office. I used it only occasionally before so it was messy but I cleaned up and neatened my desk, got a new riser for my monitor that had organization cubbies, put the other riser with USB outlets on my secondary monitor, organized and moved things to be generally nester & less cluttered, updated my lights and added ambiance lighting with Philips Hue light strips and my existing Hue Go. Got a new ergo keyboard that splits a part and “tents”, got a new mouse pad, got a new foot rest. I never want to go back now because my office is how I want it.

  57. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Psychological problems was to be expected, and I think statistics bears them out.

    Mental health has deteriorated
    The compiled literature shows that:

    – Mental well-being seems to have decreased during the pandemic.
    – Mental disorders seem to have increased, according to studies that examined how the covid-19 pandemic in general affects mental health. There seems to be a connection between self-reported mental disorders and having oneself been ill, having a close relative who has been ill and having an acquaintance who has been ill in covid-19.
    – The coping strategies of distraction, active coping, and emotional support reduce covid-19-related stress in the general population. They can also increase the mental well-being of people with disabilities or chronic illness.
    – Information about covid-19 that is perceived as reliable and adequate protects against self-reported anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. However, both information overload and lack of reliable information can contribute to stress, anxiety and depression.
    However, these results are far from certain as the overview includes a small number of studies from a few countries. Most of the studies are also of low quality and are based on methods that involve limitations. In addition, some results come from a single study, so the results must be interpreted with caution.

    The studies only show that there are connections between different factors and say nothing about the causal connections. Therefore, more good quality studies are needed to further investigate the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on mental health.

    [ https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/publicerat-material/publikationsarkiv/p/paverkar-covid-19-pandemin-befolkningens-psykiska-halsa/?pub=78907 ; Google Translate]

  58. GEORGE SEPSO
    Posted August 31, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Re-discovering the electric guitar has been a great relief. I still can’t figure the damn thing out, but banging on a few power chords never fails to sate (always mind-ful of what my neighbors will and will not tolerate—“Judas Priest”, yes; “Nickleback”, no).

    • Posted August 31, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Have you given the neighbors a code? One yell for “Keep up the good work!” and two for “Shut the f*** up!”

      I used to have a finished basement which was perfect for blasting out power chords. I miss it.

  59. Andrea Kenner
    Posted September 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    My anxiety level seems pretty stable, even though I indulge in doomscrolling on Twitter. I’ve taken up a couple of projects that are helping to keep me sane:

    (1) I found a way to turn my gray roots pink! It took some experimentation, but I found a temporary color product, and now I have pink hair on the top and sides of my head. Not that anybody can see it, but it’s something I have wanted to do for a long time.

    (2) I took a virtual Yoga class offered by a former classmate. I couldn’t believe how stiff and creaky I felt! So now, I’ve found a beginning yoga channel on YouTube, and I have been practicing every night.

    (3) I’ve started attending the virtual coronavirus class at MIT.

    (4) I started creating a Quarantine Playlist on Spotify based on my FB friends’ song suggestions. It’s all mixed up, with lots of different genres, and some songs that I don’t even like. It’s kind of fun though.


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  1. […] the blog, Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. A while back he published a post “Discussion: psychological effects of the pandemic” which I found to be almost, but not totally, how it has affected me. Instead of joining in his […]

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