Now, I bet you thought this would be about getting vaccinated. Not exactly. Okay, kind of. The other day I looked up a condition I heard referenced earlier in the week on OPB, distracted in that moment of airtime but its message loitering in my brain. For later. Something my brain best remembered as a sort of Pandemic Blues. The feeling – you’re not sure if you’re depressed, or just tired. But no matter what you do, nothing sounds interesting or exciting. For me I just wanted to hole up in a warm bed with a book, or (you know me) a hot bath. It wasn’t that I wasn’t going on my walks, making meals or dilligently putting in my work hours. But I simply felt blah. Yes, Pandemic Blues. The few friends I traded notes with knew exactly what I was talking about, even if I couldn’t articulate it very well.
I realized I needed to force myself to get back into the swing of something social. Again, don’t get me wrong. Those of you who know me understand I have some extroverted qualities. If you run into me on the street or grocery store, I’m sure you know I’m happy to see you and chat. Rarely am I short-winded. And before the pandemic, as now, within an hour or so after being put into that social exchange, I am ready for my own alone time, again. During this moment of reckoning I understood I needed something different. Something more than the grocery store visit or Zoom work “check in.” And I decided this week was the time. (For the record, I have been fully vaccinated for several months now. See, I told you it was related.)
Don’t get me wrong. I recognize how fortunate I am during this whole pandemic. I’ve still got my job, I don’t have to fear exposure going to work, I’m supported by family and friends. So this is not a “woe is me” as much as a “woe for all of us” as we try to move back into a healthier, better space, no matter who we are. It is up to those of us with so much to give back to help those without. And still. We must pay attention to how to get ourselves out of the Pandemic Blues.
It started out by reaching out to a friend I hadn’t seen since before this all started. It’s true, I had to talk myself into it and in the end I shot a text out without any idea if she was around or free. And that, for me, was getting to a bit of the crux of my problem. As I’ve blogged before, not only did I lose Mom recently, but two of my besties left the earth during this Pandemic time. Two who lived close enough for me to simply bop by their house once in awhile. Without calling first. I am certain, though, that during these past 14 months most of us have lost people we love. Few of us are alone in this, and some grieve more in the depth of loss, the degree of intimacy now gone.
But I did it anyway, sent that text. And before I knew it I was finishing up my (yes, still remote) work for the day, walking down the hill to share an outdoor drink with my friend. We laughed. We cried. We reminded each other that times have been hard. We shared our hearts like we always have. As I walked home up that steep Hidden Springs, I felt just a tad different. And no, it wasn’t the effect of alcohol.
The next day, I added the treat of visiting a favorite bookstore as a reward to a dreaded errand (probate at the courthouse). Lucky I was to take some time mid-day and select to go by e-bike rather than “jet over” by car. My e-bike always makes me happy, my errand wasn’t so bad, and I’m already reading one of my two new books. The day after, I scheduled after work time with another friend –both of us able to visit indoors thanks to vaccination. (See?) When I got home, watering my new garden seedlings, I felt a bit different. Yesterday, waving the wand during my vaccine clinic shift, I smiled more. My body moved more joyously. Now I need to treat myself to some quiet time too. Overdoing the social, if we aren’t full out extroverts, might set us smack back to those Pandemic Blues.
I figure, it’s a bit like after you’ve had an injury and you slowly prepare yourself to get back in the game again. You feel a bit nervous, the injury tender. Worried that it wasn’t yet healed enough to get back at it. But you do, and before too long, it’s almost like before. Yet, you have to remember to pace yourself.
We all need to find ways to safely get back at it. We need each other. We need time to laugh and cry together, not on Zoom, not alone. And some of us need to be the ones to reach out to those still in hiding. Respect our differences but let others know they are not alone.