CORONA JOURNAL: DAY #421

May 2, 2021

It’s been well over two months since I wrote in this journal.  It seems that when the one-year anniversary of the beginning of COVID restrictions and lockdowns rolled around, my desire to write anything just melted away.   There are probably a few reasons for this lack of initiative:

First, I was just tired of COVID crap and politics.

Second, I became increasingly occupied with work.  

Third: I was depressed. 

So, today I am forcing myself to write about how we got our vaccinations in February, and that we now have 95% immunity against the Corona Virus.  I hope. I had not been aware of the dark cloud hovering above me since March of 2020.  Two weeks after our last shot, I suddenly realized that I was, in a sense, “free”.  The fear of catching the virus evaporated, and I felt much more comfortable leaving the safety of our home.  We continue to wear masks when in public, and we don’t eat inside any restaurant (but will sit outside to eat). Wearing masks is now for the benefit of those around us because the experts still don’t know whether, if vaccinated, an individual can still transmit the virus to others.   The good news is that my son Jonathan, his wife Tiffany, my daughter Beth, my granddaughter Lucy, my grandson Brendan, my stepson Kent and his wife Andrea are now all fully vaccinated! 

Last night Beth came out for a visit and we sat together.   In our living room.  Without masks.   It was…..freeing.  It was normal, the way it always has been except for the past thirteen months.    The larger implication is that some time in the near future, our entire family will once again gather as one.  We can just hang out together without worrying about remaining 6 feet apart, we can snuggle together on the couch or fight over the last cookie, and we won’t have to wear masks.  Sigh.  

Since February, I have become increasingly busy providing psychotherapy services to a variety of individuals, young and old, male and female.   My schedule is packed from Tuesday through Thursday, and the appointments sometimes spill into Friday.   When I resumed working as a psychologist, I assured my husband that I would only work Tuesday-Wednesday, and that I would absolutely be free to take all the trips we had planned before our itineraries were scrapped last year.   I am, after all technically “retired”. 

But now, I spend Monday scheduling patients and preparing for the work week, I hit the ground running around 9:30 on Tuesday and have, at times, written progress notes until 11:00 P.M..  I see six patients at the local nursing home, two in Adult Foster Homes, and the rest either in their homes or via Telehealth.  The group I work for, Capacity Solutions, is turning away referrals for psychotherapy and a big part of me just wants to volunteer to take on more patients.   But I am “retired”.    (Fun factoid: There has been a 55% increase in demand for psychotherapy services since the beginning of COVID.) 

COVID has made things so much worse for those already experiencing a mental health issue: If someone was already experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues before COVID, their symptoms have increased; If they had a substance abuse or an eating disorder issue it is worse; If they were already struggling in a domestic relationship, their situation has become intolerable; If they were somewhat agoraphobic or had a social phobia, they are now even more petrified to step outside of their home.  I am seeing individuals who have become estranged from their adult children and grandchildren, their parents, and their siblings and friends.   Sometimes the cause is because of political differences, but sometimes it is just because, in the silence and distance, old wounds have festered and have become unavoidable, exacerbated by the reality that communication can only occur on the phone, texting, and/or social media.    

I went to the nursing home two days ago, and the residents were rejoicing that they were finally allowed to leave their rooms and visit with other residents, their families could visit them in their rooms, and they were once again able to eat in the dining room.   Unfortunately, the day after I was there, our governor once again declared that our county must return to “lockdown” status.   Next week when I visit the nursing home, I will be required to wear a gown, rubber gloves, mask, and face shield, and the residents will once again be confined to their rooms.   And we can look forward to groups of angry citizens protesting their loss of “freedom” in front of the capitol and in the streets.  

So, I am busy, much more so that I had planned to be.  But I am energized when one of my clients begins to feel better when, regardless of circumstances, they come to realize and experience their purpose and meaning in life.  And it is rewarding when they thank me for being there for them, when they tell me that I am helping them.  So, I too am privileged to experience my own purpose and meaning in life because I am engaging in my “calling”, even though I am retired.  Sort of.  Not really. 

And yes, I became depressed sometime around the middle of March.  President Biden had been sworn in, the vaccines appeared to be making a difference in the world of lockdown, the damage wrought by the wildfires in September was being cleaned up and homes were being rebuilt, and the firestorm of racial reckoning could no longer be ignored or avoided.  It was almost as if all the emotional weight from the past years (beginning with the 2016 election) had suddenly been swept away.  

I was emotionally exhausted.   I quit watching or reading the news.   I only peeked at Facebook for a minute or two each day.  I quit attending “Zoom” church and dropped out of an Ecumenical program focused on how Oregon can address the glaring issues of inequality and injustice towards People of Color.   I haven’t scheduled any zoom chats with friends for quite some time and have not invited anyone to my back yard for a social distant visit, activities which I previously looked forward to with relish.  I was just spent.  Emotionally tired. 

But life goes on.  COVID is still very much present and affecting our economy and quality of life even though we must, for our own survival, maintain the hope of returning to “normalcy”.   But how can that happen if people refuse to be vaccinated and, even worse, refuse to wear masks?  And although Joe Biden is president, he must depend on delicate bipartisan maneuvering to make any meaningful changes to our country. 

 Stories about strange conspiracy theories and threats of a civil war seep into conversation, and we know that a small, but determined and delusional portion of our citizenry continue to promote bigotry and hate with whatever means possible.   The world “patriot” has been bastardized and confused for allegiance to twisted ideologies grown from a trash heap of ignorance and evil .

I guess I’m ready to emerge from my cocoon of denial and rejoin others as we continue to walk this journey towards making the world a better place.  I am ready to face reality.

We still proudly display my father’s American Flag every morning.  This is my country, my home, and we must all maintain hope that someday, we will no longer live under this dissipating cloud of uncertainty. 

Some day.  It will come.   As the sun peeks out from the storm cloud we will begin to bask in its warmth, and as light emerges from the darkness, it will come. 

Published by doctorphyllis

I'm a semi-retired clinical psychologist living in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

One thought on “CORONA JOURNAL: DAY #421

  1. I hope you are taking care of yourself, Phyllis, as well as all those people you are helping. It’s good to hear your thoughts. Thanks for posting. Barb

    Sent from my iPhone

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