Friday, April 3, 2020

The Dichotomy Between My Brain and Me During COVID-19

Before I go any further, a disclaimer: I want to make it clear that I am well aware that the stuff that follows is NOWHERE NEAR comparable to what our health care providers and all of those on the front lines of this crazy thing are going through. This global pandemic is some serious shit – I’m just here to do what I can – and in this case it’s just to bring some trivial, self-deprecating levity that hopefully some of you can relate to. 

That said, there’s a lot we’re having to do differently these days, am I right? And I don’t have a problem complying with the recommended best practices to help flatten the curve. However, it’s one thing to read them – it’s another to sort out the thoughts that go through my head as a result.

For over-thinkers like myself, this pandemic is full of thought-provoking land mines capable of endless rumination. For every seemingly rational thought, there is always an additional, less rational counter-thought immediately following. 

For example:

What I do: On a walk, I spot someone approaching, so practice social distancing and move off the sidewalk and into the grass.
What I’m thinking: Wait, do they think I moved onto the grass because I think they have coronavirus? Or do they think I have it because I moved onto the grass? Do they think I’m paranoid? Should I have waited for them to social distance first? Maybe I should just keep walking on the grass like that’s what I wanted to do the whole time. Maybe I’ll just skip the walk all together.

What I do: Go to the grocery store.
What I'm thinking: Can I just wipe off the handle of the cart or should I take it out and spray it down with a hose? Can I drive this thing with my elbows? How long do I have to wait for the person in front of the frozen food case to move before I blow my social distancing to snag the last carton of chocolate ice cream? Should I apologize to the cashier for even being here? And is it rude to squirt someone with hand sanitizer?

What I do: Smile and wave at my co-workers on a video conference call.
What I'm thinking: HOLY HELL is that what I really look like? I’m pretty sure I have never looked as unattractive as I do at this angle, with this lighting, on this screen, on this day. Wow – that is not a good camera angle for you, Karen. And your video button is NOT broken, Steven, you just aren't being a team player.

What I do: Get out a bunch of books I haven’t read and vow to set aside an hour a day to get caught up.
What happens next: OMG the third season of Ozark is out! Wait – what happened again at the end of Season 2? Better recap, right after I watch the latest Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and a Chopped marathon.

What I say to myself: Wow, look at all the people outside enjoying the fresh air. 
My next thought: WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PEOPLE OUTSIDE??? There have never been this many outside people. How am I supposed to walk my neurotic dog with this many people – even if I stay on the grass? These people need to go back inside. 

What happens: Randomly cough lightly 
What I do: Google coronavirus symptoms, take a shower and go to bed

What I’m wishing: If this had to happen at all I wish it could have been when my kids were younger so they would be home with me.
How that would have played out: After initially crushing the first few hours of isolation with homemade edible play-dough, a chore chart and plenty of flash cards, I’d subsequently be pounding a bottle of wine in the bathroom while my kids watch Finding Nemo on repeat and eat marshmallows for breakfast.

What I’m thinking: I wish I could go out to a happy hour or see a band with a bunch of friends. 
What I’m thinking, follow-up: Because now I have nothing to flake out of when I’d rather stay home. 

What I'm thinking: This would be a great opportunity to eat healthier and try to cook more. 
What actually happens: Breakfast: four cups of coffee and a freezer-burned cinnamon waffle. Lunch: Lean Cuisine and a Jell-o cup. Dinner: Seven rolls of Smarties and a six-pack.

What I say to myself: I should really make some face masks. Or maybe make a Tik-Tok video. Or fill out one of those Facebook lists. Or deep clean my house. 
What I actually do: None of these things. 

Like I said, we over-thinkers are now in overdrive – because it’s so easy to do. Just look on social media – for every fact, opinion or suggestion there is a counter-fact, counter-opinion and counter-suggestion. I guess all we can do is do the best that we can to stop the spread, and that’s stay home, wash our hands and try to keep our sanity until we can get back to life as we know it once again.

Hang in there, my friends. 

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