Self-Isolation in solidarity, we are stronger together

Social distancing has changed everyone’s lives.  You may be feeling the strain of not being able to go about your life the way that you had.  Isolation feels lonely for so many.  Not having freedom to go and do the simple things feels constrictive.  Globally, we are feeling alone.  I’m sure that many of us are resentful of the pandemic and thinking could it really be that bad?    

I am immune compromised.  I have Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder or CVID.  I’ve written about this before.  Essentially, my immune system doesn’t fight off infections as well as most people.  If you’ve got a cold, I’ll get it. Even if you cover your mouth when you cough, I’m still likely going to get it.  I have immune-replacement therapy, but it doesn’t cover everything.  There are many ways that our immune system fights off contagions and my replacement therapy only addresses one of those ways.  I also have asthma, so if it’s a respiratory thing it’ll cause an asthma flare up.  

My immunodeficiency and asthma put me into two risk groups.  So, I’ve been anxious.  But, like many of you, I’ve been asking myself, could it really be that bad?  After my husband spoke with a friend of his from college who is an ER doctor, we had a reality check in our house.  We found out what it’s like on the frontline.  What COVID-19 looks like when it’s severe, and what medical procedures have to happen when it is severe.  To answer the question, yes, it is that bad.  

All of the emotions that I had been trying to manage busted out, and I spent the next day crying in waves.  After a day of crying, I realized how much I had been fighting to hold it together.  I wasn’t just nervous.  I wasn’t just anxious.  I was full on scared. 

My husband had been working furiously to be able to telework.  After talking with his friend, he decided to tell his supervisor that he would be taking vacation until he could telework.  My husband gave them a few day’s notice and spent extra hours at the office getting ready for it.  Although his supervisor and the IT department were supportive, the infrastructure was less so.  As of writing this my husband is on vacation and setting up his home office to be his workplace away from the office.  I’m relieved [update: the approval finally came through a few days ago]

I had no idea how much I was stressing out until he came home.  Since he’s been home, I feel like a weight has been lifted from me, and realized  I was stressed because he kept going out into the world and putting our toddler and myself at risk.  It must’ve been a huge weight, because I’m feeling quite at peace at the moment.  The boredom, the ennui, the resentment hasn’t kicked in yet.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT giddy about all of this. My once sole domain during the work week has been invaded.  But, I’m sure that we will work it out,  as many of us will.

It’s hard to wrap your head around something so abstract as a pandemic, isn’t it?  People are trying to avoid spreading it, even though they might not have symptoms. People are staying home so that the severe cases don’t overwhelm the hospital system.  What does that even mean?  It means that we can expect a certain amount of people to become severe cases.  If the virus is allowed to spread, then more people will get the virus, which means that more people can become severe.  I think that we all understand that much.  I really do.  I think that we understand how “A” leads to “B” and then to “C”.  

I think, really, what we are having trouble with is allowing ourselves to feel the vulnerability that comes with something as catastrophic as this.  Our world is being shaken to its core.  We are seeing how fragile our systems are, like our economy, availability of resources.  Having allowed ourselves to feel this, I think it’s also important to see the easily missed fact of how resilient we are as well.  Our systems are fragile but look at how quickly we were able to self-organize into self-isolation.  Look at how quickly we were able to set up ways to keep working at home.  Look at how quickly people got on social media to encourage each other to buy gift certificates from restaurants and other places of business that can’t be open during this time.  I don’t want to sound dismissive of those who are suffering from this pandemic, either because of their health or from economic burdens. They is a lot of very real suffering happening right now.  But, at the same time, I think this is a time to help your neighbor, to expand what your notion of neighbor is, and globally ban together to help each other.  This is WHY we are showing resilience.  We are resilient because we have realized and have decided to act on a feeling of solidarity, because we are stronger together.    

©2020, 2021 Michelle Raab, PhD. All rights reserved.

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