We are experiencing something that the world hasn’t seen since the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Every country in the world is impacted by a virus that is killing thousands of people every day. Most of the world is living in a state of government-imposed quarantine. My family and I have been in “self-isolation” at the advice of our state government for about three weeks and it’s starting to wear. How are you holding up?

I’ll be honest, I’m not holding up as well as I would like. Let me state here that I am an emergency manager by training. I literally studied this sort of thing for my undergraduate degree and some of my graduate work. I learned more than a little bit about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that infected some 30% of the world’s population which is an estimated 500 million people. The fatality rate was at least 2.5%, with the total number of deaths estimated to be somewhere between 50 and 100 million people .

Coping strategies that I’m using

This is a hard time. This is a hard time like very few people alive now have ever seen. Huge numbers of people are at risk for getting sick and dying because of this virus, mostly those with poor respiratory health and other underlying conditions. I have lung damage, so I am in that category.

Because of this, I am taking particular caution with my exposure. My church has closed it’s doors and moved to online-only services for the time being. Korinji, the Buddhist monastery that I am a member of, has gone to all on-line interaction for anyone who is not a resident and has started producing content on the Patreon page to help Buddhists continue their practice at home. It can be a great comfort to take refuge in faith practice in difficult times. I have been referring to this material regularly.

Normally, I am extremely connected with the news and goings-on of the world. As an American citizen, that includes being very aware of the political climate. With our president that can be… Frustrating. So, I have mostly stopped following a lot of the news outlets that I’ve historically kept in my awareness. Shortly after COVID-19 made it to America’s shores I started having anxiety attacks when I would put any concerted thought into the COVID-19 impacts on both my family and my country. I had to mostly stop watching the nightly news, I had to mostly stop reading on Facebook. If I didn’t I would have an anxiety attack.

A couple of weeks back, John Beckett wrote an interesting post on Patheos titled “Keeping a Plague Diary” in which he talks about journaling, especially in times of historical import. He talks about how it’s not like your words will make it into some future HBO special, or that you’ll not likely be a notable figure, but your family, your descendants will be interested to know what you went through. They will be interested to know what you thought, and how you coped .

The Book Of My Life · Sting & Anoushka Shankar
Album: Sacred Love
Lyrics

John made some very interesting points and makes reference to a Facebook post by local Pagan associate of his. Between the two of them, it’s clear that personal journals that are kept in historically significant times are profound. There is plenty enough reason to keep notes of your life. For some people, it is a good way to release anxiety about things that they are going through currently. For others, keeping a journal is a good way to keep track of their personal status through time.

For others, keeping a journal is a letter to history, letting the future know what it was like to live today. For parents of young children, it can be a way to document the things that children have lived through when they are too young to realize that their experiences are significant.

Tonight, I will be starting my plague journal as a way to help get my anxieties out and into the light. Gods know that I have enough blank journal type notebooks around here that I have never written in before. I have always told myself that I will write in them, but it just hasn’t happened to date. Now is a good time to start.

So, tell me: How are you coping? Leave a message in the comments and let me know.

Bibliography

Beckett, J. (2020, March 26). Keeping a Plague Diary. John Beckett. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2020/03/keeping-a-plague-diary.html
Taubenberger, J. K., & Morens, D. M. (2006). 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12(1), 15–22. https://doi.org/10/bb4v
 

One Thought on “Coronavirus Quarantine Week 3: How Are You Holding Up?”

  • How am I holding up?
    WHY, GLAD YOU ASKED.
    Not great, but I’m surviving. For now. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this whole ordeal it’s that emergency prepping is 100% justifiable, and that behaving like an animal during good times makes it much easier to be more human during a crisis.
    It feels good to share with people in need.
    There’s another thing I’ve learned about myself.
    If it ever feels like something is warning you, LISTEN.
    I got this absolute raging lunatic urge to start stocking up on certain oddball emergency preps like medical supplies (bleeder/MARCH gear, nonperishables, etc) back around September-October and started accumulating slowly and surely, a few pieces at a time. By the time December hit. I got this weird feeling that I needed to grab N95 masks and a couple P100 welding filters for my half-face mask.
    On one hand, synchronicity is weird. I have no doubt in my mind there was some other signal going on that triggered that reptile-brain pattern recognition, whether or not it was related in any meaningful way to the present crisis. I don’t think spirits or aliens were speaking to me. It’s more like when you work retail long enough that you realize any time Manager Jim starts talking about his ex-wife’s cats, you’re reminded of Rick Astley. And you think it’s super weird until you eventually realize that Manager Jim is reminded of his ex-wife’s cats any time that “You’re So Vain” comes on and even though the store’s random rotation includes about 1,200 songs, somehow your brain knows that “Together Forever” comes two songs after “You’re So Vain”. And then you throw in hereditary memory and suddenly the spooky becomes a little more mundane. And with that in mind I feel glad that I’ve been able to help a couple of at-risk friends once the CDC started to change their tune about masks
    On the other hand, I’m feeling a lot more ambivalent about the compulsion I had about four weeks ago to upgrade my body armor.
    Is it a fluke? Probably. As likely were the other two incidents.
    But I’ve learned not to question, and now I have RF2 PE-ceramic hybrid plates in my vest instead of the dryrotted Cold War era German Kevlar soft armor.
    Of course it’s also possible that I’m just losing my mind in an eerily convenient way.
    I’m not a sociable person, but “I prefer to spend about 95% of my time on my own because interactions with strangers and non-friend acquaintances are exhausting, even when I’m on pleasant terms” is not the same as “I wanna live in a fucking cave.”.
    I love my cats. I would not be able to do this without them.
    I’m supposed to be working from home, but every three or four days I end up getting summoned into the factory/warehouse/production floor to take care of some really dumb hardware issue that never would have been a problem back when I wasn’t having to make a special 80-minute round trip to solve it that involved placing myself in mortal danger because my fat, asthmatic, former-smoker, type-A-positive-blood-having ass is like four different flavors of at-risk. I’m a little miffed about that. But it is what it is. Better than being foreclosed and then picking up the Cooties while homeless because all the Karens are spitefully going out and being unhygienic because they want to go back to pretending to like baseball and harassing retail cashiers. My parents are at risk in more than a few ways, which is perhaps even more stressful. YOu know how that goes. Helping them and helping my friends and neighbors has been my first and foremost strategy to helping myself get through this. Don’t mistake it for altruism though. Sure, on some level I do it because it’s good and it’s right. But on some level I just like to feel like the hero. Like the real-life version of the good guy from my favorite books, movies, TV shows and games. Like Shepherd or Picard.

    And you know what?
    Maybe I deserve to feel like a hero just a little bit right now, so I’m gonna worry about neurotic egotism and obsessive-compulsive behavior later.

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