Saturday, April 4, 2020

I'm Fine, Really

"You'd say I'm putting you on, but it's no joke, it's doing me harm You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane you know. I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind."                - The Beatles
First of all: The numbers don't matter!! Seriously, don't even look at them! They're like a weather forecast: It's only sometimes accurate and shouldn't be used to plan anything important. Say you're planning an outdoor wedding, and the forecast says totally sunny, then you'd still put up some kind of tarp just in case, right?! Whether the projections are horrific or hopeful shouldn't have any effect on our behaviour right now anyway; we STILL have to stay home as much as possible and stay well washed. We're all hoping the numbers go down to know when the curve has flattened, but once that happens, which could be a long way off, we still have to behave the same. So don't look. Of course, I'm mainly reprimanding myself here.

My concern is that when the numbers look bad, people will fall into despair and stop caring about taking precautions, and when they look good, people will decide they can relax their precautions because it's almost over!! Either way would be a shitshow.

I'm avoiding looking at the graphs and numbers at least until May, when we're scheduled to go back to school (even though we're SO not likely to be going back to school for the rest of the year and all the grade 12s should definitely consider deferring university acceptance - seriously).

Secondly, this is harder than I thought it would be.

I hate when things are half finished. Once a neighbour painted their house trim on three sides, but didn't get to that last side for a year. I just shook my head every time I passed their place. Now we're in the middle of a school term, and I'm chomping at the bit to finish it, but we were just told we need another week to prepare. I've always been a doer and impatient to get to things, but this "get ready and then wait some more" is making me batty.

And I never thought of myself as a hypochondriac, but I keep thinking I have this stupid virus!! I was so on top of my hot flashes until now! After my surgeries, I considered it the worst side effect because it affected my day to day choices much more than losing my breasts ever would. Hot flashes came out of nowhere and made me feel like I was coming down with something, and, if I couldn't take off an outer layer of clothing, actually did make me ill. But I got used to it. We can adapt to so much in our lives, it's amazing! But now, they freak me out again.

TRIGGER WARNING - Skip this next paragraph if you're prone to anxiety. It's just bad news.

Then last Wednesday, I coughed a few times and went into full panic mode, which made my chest tight, which made my heart leap out of my chest. I've never really experienced anxiety before, but I'm pretty sure that's what it feels like. Then a FedEx package was left on our porch, and it felt like a flippin' time bomb that needed to be diffused! My biggest fear is to be trapped under water (from watching The Abyss at too influential an age - 24!), and listening to reports of people who have survived the virus, that's pretty much what it sounds like! People cry as they describe it. Jesus! And once you're in the hospital, you're alone. Well, never alone but completely void of familiar faces or even unmasked faces. I'm reminded of my mom's time in the hospital as she was dying, decades ago, and a patient in another room kept moaning loudly, which troubled my mother, but it couldn't be helped. Being alone would be a luxury. At one point I found myself googling Death with Dignity sites. Can we ask to be euthanized instead of ventilated??

Gosh, what a coward I am sometimes!! It was just a bad day and entirely in my head. Stoics tell us to remember death is around the corner, but there is far too much time to self-obsess on it. I can't imagine what it's like for people who suffer from anxiety or depression. I hope everyone can find their way through it all.

Wednesday night, my youngest and I watched a movie together, which I thought would help distract myself from myself. She wanted to finally watch Midsommar with me, and it couldn't have been worse timing for a creepy horror movie! She was annoyed that I didn't actually watch it all because I stopped looking at the screen for most of the second half.

I've been fine since then, though. More or less. The kids did groceries yesterday, masked, and then I scrubbed everything once they got home, so I might worry a bit more for a few days. The grocery stores are being very cautious, which helps.

It's no comfort to me that most people just have mild symptoms because whenever I get something, I always seem to get a weird version that nobody's seen before. I'm always in the rare part of the curve, medically. I know that events that happened in the past don't predict the future, like prior coin flips aren't predictive of the next coin flip, but I don't know it enough for it to affect how I feel about it! That's a bugger.

Getting outside myself helps, with movies and books and chores. Work will help, once we're allowed to start. I've been giving suggested due dates to my classes just to give the kids something purposeful to do in case that helps. I hope it doesn't add to their stress, which is the school board's concern. I've tried to be clear that anything they don't do now won't be counted against them in any way. But I worry about the kids who haven't quite submitted anything yet. And I worry so much about their mental health - although my own kids seem a bit oblivious to it all, dismissing my concerns with eye-rolls and wearing homemade masks out mainly just to placate me, which is fine. Whatever works. They're still young enough to feel immortal. I prepped financial instructions for them, just in case.

Remembering to stay in the present helps a lot: no peeking at yesterday's disasters or tomorrow's potential horrors. In the moment, I can breathe easily, and my lunch was flavourful. The hot flashes subside within minutes, and then I'm back to normal. The news is the enemy right now. It's hard to stay in contact with friends on social media without getting bombarded with headlines. I let my eyes jump away from the screen as I scroll, like I do with trophy hunters and ads for wrinkle cream. Just don't look.

Gratitude is vital as well: I have a really nice family in a just-big-enough house with a yard. That's amazingly lucky! My kids are spread out a bit, but they're still all in the city, well cared for. And, oh my goodness, I am so happy to live in Canada right now! I have it so much better than so many people, so it feels embarrassingly pathetic and positively entitled to fret about myself. But it is what it is.

I know what helps, but I sometimes forget and get sucked into the terror of it all. It's bad, and it's going to go on for a long time, but it's not happening to me or my loved ones right now. We still have a good chance of making it out alive! We'll see who's left on May Day.

Here's some Aristotle to mull over. Apparently we can't be courageous in the face of disease:
Plainly the things we fear are terrible things, and these are, to speak without qualification, evils; for which reason people even define fear as expectation of evil. Now we fear all evils, e.g. disgrace, poverty, disease, friendlessness, death, but the brave man is not thought to be concerned with all; for to fear some things is even right and noble, and it is base not to fear them--e.g. disgrace; he who fears this is good and modest, and he who does not is shameless. He is, however, by some people called brave, by a transference of the word to a new meaning; for he has in him something which is like the brave man, since the brave man also is a fearless person. Poverty and disease we perhaps ought not to fear, nor in general the things that do not proceed from vice and are not due to a man himself. But not even the man who is fearless of these is brave. Yet we apply the word to him also in virtue of a similarity; for some who in the dangers of war are cowards are liberal and are confident in face of the loss of money. Nor is a man a coward if he fears insult to his wife and children or envy or anything of the kind; nor brave if he is confident when he is about to be flogged. With what sort of terrible things, then, is the brave man concerned? Surely with the greatest; for no one is more likely than he to stand his ground against what is awe-inspiring. Now death is the most terrible of all things; for it is the end, and nothing is thought to be any longer either good or bad for the dead. But the brave man would not seem to be concerned even with death in all circumstances, e.g. at sea or in disease. In what circumstances, then? Surely in the noblest. Now such deaths are those in battle; for these take place in the greatest and noblest danger. And these are correspondingly honoured in city-states and at the courts of monarchs. Properly, then, he will be called brave who is fearless in face of a noble death, and of all emergencies that involve death; and the emergencies of war are in the highest degree of this kind. Yet at sea also, and in disease, the brave man is fearless, but not in the same way as the seaman; for he has given up hope of safety, and is disliking the thought of death in this shape, while they are hopeful because of their experience. At the same time, we show courage in situations where there is the opportunity of showing prowess or where death is noble; but in these forms of death neither of these conditions is fulfilled.

Maybe this will prompt a more noble courageousness:

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