So it’s now Day 9 of the Shelter-in-Place order. Compared to yesterday, I am feeling better though still unsettled. Whether it be work or my personal life, things just don’t seem normal. I am being bombarded with inane text messages and posts from family. Pictures of Trump or of dinner and other random things. I know they are trying to lighten the mood and that they are dealing with this in their own way. But, sometimes you just need to wall yourself off from all that.
I do happen to find it annoying when my phone and watch constantly ping. You look down and you have 30 messages in the span of 5 minutes. And yes, while you can change the notification and alert settings, there’s something deeper. Deeper than just the superficial annoyance of being reminded of the plastic and glass device on your wrist or in your pocket. There’s a deep sense of still not feeling ok. Since this whole virus has swept through the world and shut it down, I am finding myself increasingly detached from the world. This is the case for most of us. We are all practicing social distancing and to an extent isolation. And as we have each become an island, we are left to think. And this gets into the heart of something that I have struggled with my entire life. Depression.
Depression eats at you. It sucks away your will to do anything. It makes you into a shell of the person. An exterior that, if chiseled or shattered would reveal an abyss. The core of you is so distant that it feels like an echo… or a memory of what you once were. It’s a nefarious and pervasive invader in your life. You try to hide it as best you can. You force a smile or feign interest in a conversation or try to look at things of beauty. But, you feel as a fraudster does. Knowing that you can lie to others but you can’t lie to yourself. It’s the mental equivalent of skin cancer. You can hide it under layers, but it slowly eats you away. You feel it in your mind. It gnaws at you. Your brain feels like someone is slowly stretching it out, twisting it into perverse shapes, and then stretching it out further. And like hate, it’s smart. It knows the best time to strike. When you are alone and feeling helpless.
And that’s how I feel now. Helpless and alone. I don’t even have the opportunity to go out and be with family and friends in person because of the Shelther-in-Place order. I want to be clear, I am not complaining about what is going on. We all need to do our parts to stop this virus in its tracks. And while I can rest somewhat easily knowing that. And that gives me some strength. Sometimes, when I am in a depressive state, a small glimmer of hope is all I need to start getting back on track. The abyss becomes a pit, with a bottom. And I find myself present again with my mind and body in my surroundings. Sometimes it comes from the anticipation of something huge – a holiday or a vacation. And other times, it can be a simple “Thank you” and a smile from a stranger. That’s one of the other tricky things about depression. But, I think I’ve given it enough time.
Today, the sun came out. After several days of cold, dreary and wet weather, we have clear skies. I can even see a sliver of moon hovering over a building from my window. The air is cleaner than I have seen it in a long time. We can certainly “thank” COVID-19 for that. The sound of traffic both in the air and from the nearby freeway is a little less. There is a breeze and the air is brisk. And while the world still feels like it’s holding its breath, I can find peace in this moment. I will see another day. And perhaps, the glimmer of today will become a reality for tomorrow. It’s certainly worth sticking around for.