I could preach to you, but you already know… we are all experiencing some sort of COVID-19 Quarantine Fatigue. You have probably fallen victim to one if not all of the following symptoms:
- Increased sense of Stress
- Eating More
- Eating Less
- Inability to Sleep
- The desire to only Sleep
- Reduction in Productivity
- Racing Thoughts
- General “On Edge” feelings
- Sense of Hopelessness and Helplessness
I myself have experienced every single one of these except #5 (Eating Less… I stress eat!) and #6 (I only want to sleep, but my nights are certainly filled with tossing, turning and more aches and pains that seem to come out of nowhere. Certainly restless nights have become my new norm).
A few months back I felt a sense of community solidarity. I pulled out the construction paper, cut out hearts of varying sizes, and taped them to my front windows. I was inspired by other neighbors that had done the same, and it felt right to join in the neighborhood movement to know that we were all feeling the same and there for each other, be it 6-12 feet away.
Now, when I walk the block, I completely overlook the window decorations and go straight for the anger that fuels my fatigue. I look and even count the number of people not wearing masks. I seeth beneath my own mask as I pass folks who are wearing their masks wrong, not covering up their noses, or even peeling them off the minute they enter the “guard” at Target who is there to enforce the mandated mask law in the county. “It’s because of you,” I growl under my breath, “That we are still in this mess. Cover your mouth, cover your nose, how hard can this be? Because of you, I cannot send my child to school, my son to his day programs, my husband is out of work and cannot secure employment.”
(Pardon my political views on mask-wearing, this is a personal commentary and I do not mean to offend anyone’s beliefs).
So, now I see that my anger at unhealthy practices as well as others’ desires NOT to practice pandemic precautions are both a sign of COVID-19 Quarantine Fatigue. Some of us are freaking out about the future (ME) and others are just absolutely done with this whole thing and want to feel a sense of normality again (OTHERS). Although it makes me angry, it is where we are now.
The long term stress of this whole mess is taking a significant mental health toll on everyone. Stress experienced over a prolonged period of time is dramatically more devastating to the mind and body than a short term crisis. 5 months, (140 days on my Coronavirus Calendar- which I track cases daily) is a VERY LONG TIME.
Another factor that is making the fatigue last so long is our inability to cope together. Like I said before, I was at one time, inspired to join in, from a distance, so show my support. Now, as I read that memorial services such as the 9/11 tribute has been canceled, I can see the disparity in our ability to mourn collectively. For the past 19 years, we have memorialized 9/11 as a day of remembrance. Churches were filled, blood drives were encouraged, candlelight vigils were held… all in an effort to join together and display our despair. The collective arrangements provided for a type of group therapy, harmony, consensus, and mutual support.
Now in our new normal, we must mourn alone. We cannot join in large groups, link arm in arm, and feel the pain of others through the pain of ourselves. We cannot hug or kiss or embrace strangers in attempts to show the invisible bonds that we have with each other, we are all struggling together, and together we will get through this.
We now sit in our homes, alone, surrounded by only a scant few, rehashing the latest news that keeps us distant from our own lives. This lack of community only exacerbates the fatigue we feel as we balance the urgency with the unknown.
So, as I end this rant, I encourage you to have compassion for yourself at this time, take care of yourself, and take care of those around you. We truly are all in this together, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.