It’s Been Rough. How Are You Doing?

Inspirobot is so on point sometimes

I have been a bad blogger this year, and I can’t believe it’s nearly May and this is my first post.

In December I made a conscious decision to take a break from blogging and the Internet more generally over the holidays.

But in January I found myself struck with an absolutely crippling anxiety about posting anything on the Internet, whether that was blog posts or Instagram, or really even any kind of commenting.

Something about seeing or not seeing notifications started to get to me.

I couldn’t handle people disagreeing with me. I couldn’t handle people agreeing with me. I couldn’t handle people ignoring my comments. I felt like everything I might post or comment about was either stupid, or counterproductive, or weighed down with uncertain tones that obscured my intended meaning.

In the midst of that I came down with the flu. This was in early February so it was likely just the regular old flu and not the BIG BUG that’s taken over our lives, but who knows?

What I do know is that it triggered a case of pleurisy that left me struggling to get enough air. I was constantly exhausted and barely able to function beyond getting through my work day and then sleeping for 12 – 16 hours a day.

Between illness and anxiety I was left pretty socially isolated which turned into a period of depression where I had zero energy or motivation to accomplish anything. As Spring started to take hold here in Minnesota, and the sunlight came back out and I was starting to feel better mentally and physically this whole COVID-19 thing hit with Stay-At-Home Orders and quarantining.

That resulted in another bout of anxiety. I live alone, and at my worst, going to work or just the movies or a cup of coffee at Starbucks was sometimes my lifeline to basic human connection when I didn’t have the energy for anything else. With the Stay-At-Home order I am now working from home and of course going anywhere else is out of the question. I’m a fairly introverted person, but like most humans I don’t do well in constant isolation.

Oddly though, this whole situation has in some ways made me feel more connected than I was before. I am more isolated, but so is everyone else. We are alone together, and this has prompted more phone conversations and Skype calls with people I haven’t seen in months who are now also struggling with isolation.

Even my six year-old niece has been calling me to tell me stories. Between my niece and my sister, I am not sure who is having a harder time with the homeschooling:

A portrait of the Artist Under Quarantine

At any rate, I find my mental health improving even as the world around me continues to find new ways to be terrifying. These are strange and difficult times we are living in, and I hope you are all finding ways to stay connected and optimistic.

I recognize that I am very lucky, and I am grateful to have a job that allows me to keep working, and to do so from the safety and comfort of my own home. I know that’s not the experience that everyone gets to have, and I am thinking about all of you who are facing greater challenges during this pandemic.

So how are you doing? How are you staying connected? How are you feeling? Anything in particular you want to complain about? Have at it in the comments!

18 thoughts on “It’s Been Rough. How Are You Doing?

  1. Hello Mr. Rook! I am glad you are back. Wondering what had become of you.
    I am sorry you had a rough winter – mentally and physically – but I am glad you have not left blogging forever.

    You ask how we are doing with Covid-19. Logistically, I am doing well. Providentially, just last fall we had moved out to a rural location. We home school, and my husband’s job was unaffected by the lockdown. So the logistics have affected us minimally.

    Mentally, you described it really well: “I couldn’t handle people disagreeing with me. I couldn’t handle people agreeing with me. I couldn’t handle people ignoring my comments. I felt like everything I might post or comment about was either stupid, or counterproductive …”

    The panic has amped all this up to 11. We live in a rural area, big skies, lots of wind, no subway system, yet we are told that if we don’t do exactly the same lockdown measures as NYC, for just as long, we WANT PEOPLE TO DIE. Nobody knows anything, scientifically, and we are being given lots of contradictory information, yet if we don’t sign on to the most apocalyptic interpretation of that info, we are told that we are stupid and science deniers.

    I’m not on Twitter or Facebook, and try not to click on discussions that look like they will upset me, but even I can’t avoid all the lecturing completely.

    I just want to be allowed to make the best decisions for my family without being demonized.

    My husband is prone to anxiety. Every article he forwards me about his industry is misleadingly written to make it sound like anyone who catches Covid-19 will die. I find that kind of reporting really irresponsible. It will be read by people with anxiety issues.

    Finally, not that you may care, but one result of all of this is that I have decided to go ahead and self-publish my novels. I was almost done with the query process anyway, but with the changing conditions, I think now is a good time to start a new business (which is what self-publishing is). I want to have books that I can start promoting so as to start a (however small) additional income stream for my family. Querying is emotionally draining in the first place, and now I’ve got Plague Blaming stress on top of that. Plus, much of the traditional publishing industry is in NYC, so it will be changing in ways that are unpredictable but probably not friendly to a debut author.

    Sorry if all of that was TMI. I wish you all the best … have a good day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not at all! I certainly understand the frustration with all the contradictory information we are getting. Wear Masks! But they don’t help! But they do help! But also don’t touch your face!

      It’s rough. Actually my mother lives in a place a lot like what you describe, except she works for the County’s Public Health. She had to fight a Commissioner who was insisting that “Oh, if you have COVID-19 and shake 100 people’s hands only 1 or 2 will catch it”. And he was telling people that!!! Like, no, only one or two might die from it, but upwards of 75- 80 would actually catch it… ugh. There are some dumb people out there.

      It’s frustrating on their end because they are trying to protect people with limited information and are fighting people who don’t take it seriously and won’t follow common sense measures or recognize how the recommendations will change as we learn more about what is actually happening. It’s not a static situation.

      But the media takes it and sensationalizes everything for more clicks, and then roll out the politicizing and conspiracy theories and people start to shut down because there is so much garbage coming out of the news pundits and politicians that the actual experts get buried.

      I think it’s good that you are thinking of self-publishing like a business and I wish you luck! Certainly this pandemic has also affected publishing companies, lots of layoffs and supply chain disruptions. Good luck! Stay safe and stay sane!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate this posting very much. Somehow it helps to hear of the struggles of others and know that ones own concerns amount to little. I live in a rural area in New Zealand, but what amazes me is the kindness of others. One farmer leaves eggs in the mailbox, another leaves mushrooms. One farmer left a huge cardboard box of meat cuts on the gate post! The local beekeeper left a very large jar of honey just yesterday. I will add that I enjoy gardening, so all of these kind people have been getting tomatoes and green beans and bell peppers and cucumbers! It’s Autumn down here, but I know it’s Spring in your neck of the woods and maybe it’s springtime too in the way we act towards each other! Thanks again for the posting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is fantastic! It really is great to see all of the creative ways people have been going out of their way to help each other through this, despite the craziness and uncertainty.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. And here I thought you were still taking your break. It seems it wasn’t that much of a good break, eh? Good to hear from you. Yeah, take care of your mental health, and your health in general. Self-care takes priority over a blog. Do what you can to stay sane with the current situation.

    Things are doing ok on our end. Mostly staying at home, and going out rarely to buy essential supplies.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t have much cabin fever, mainly because I can get out at least 3 times a week to purchase essential supplies. Just need to take precautions. Although cases in our City is low, and it seems to be under control.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s good to hear. Hope it stays that way!

        We’ve been doing ok but there’s a lot of pressure to re-open and I am concerned that will backfire without adequate testing. Hopefully they get more testing stations up soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, that’s a tough time to have just recovered from a serious illness. 😣 The timing of the “Big Bug” was awkward for me in a different way. I had been hiding away from all but necessary social contact for years now and in January I decided, “That’s it. This is the year I’m going to get out and interact!” And then suddenly we were all hiding away for much scarier reasons.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear from you again. I missed your witticisms! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah! I’m sure a lot of people rolled around January with all kinds of resolutions and goals for self-improvement that just got derailed. Hope you can find different ways to connect.

      Now is a good excuse to call and check in on old friends, where it might have felt awkward to do so before. Maybe you can use the time to build those connections and turn them into more outgoing opportunities in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad to see you back, Mr. Rook! I too have not been so active on my blog. I could come up with myriad excuses, but what would be the point of drinking lies instead of facing the truth? Had my disappointments which kept me away, and my procrastination.

    This whole virus situation has brought up a lot of fear and pain. But, it also came with a few positives. It helped me learn to appreciate what I had. It’s sad that the vast majority of us humans tend to be grateful for what they have only when it is gone. But it’s just our way, unfortunately. COVID-19 shows how many things we took for granted. That daily stroll through the alleys after work? Gone for a few months. Meeting with friends for a beer or simply going to an art gallery to be around people? Also gone for many months.

    Perhaps I am an idiot in my optimism, but I am looking forward to normality making a comeback. It’s amusing, coming from the man who prides himself on being a weirdo… heh, how the times change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m increasingly pessimistic that anything resembling “normal” will come back. But in some ways, perhaps that is optimistic. I think this pandemic has really underscored some of the weaknesses of the societies in which we live. But perhaps what comes after will make us stronger and better. Hope springs eternal. Stay weird, my dude.

      Liked by 1 person

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