Thoughts from home

posted | about 6 minutes to read

tags: covid-19 mental health

A lot has happened, I feel, since my last check-in here. On a macro scale, things have gone from “relatively normal, same as they ever were” to “well, everyone’s at home forever now”, and that is in large part what is spurring this post. It’s a big adjustment and I’m still trying to make it; it’s been quite a bit more difficult than I originally expected it to be. Still, there are some bright spots - while I want to cover everything, I promise it won’t be too much of a downer.

That said, the biggest thing is…unfortunately a pretty big downer. One of the consequences of staying home all day every day is that I have no face to face contact outside the home context anymore. No in-person therapy sessions, no meetings, no talking with coworkers, so on and so forth, and this has been really draining. The first few days, I think, were the worst, but it’s definitely still an adjustment. At this point, I’m starting to get to a little bit better point with the social adjustment, thank goodness, and my main concern has now become how the days have just kind of blended together and it just feels like every day is one in an endless series of Tuesdays, stretching into the indefinite future. While I’m managing that for now, I am worried for where I’ll end up if this keeps up for too many more months. Still, for now, doing okay.

That said, things did not just, like, improve in a vacuum. I wanted to talk a little bit about the things that have helped me personally keep some stability. To kick it off, though, I’m actually going to just link this series of toots which really helped me when this thing was just getting started, in terms of making sure I did not completely lose touch with the flow of time. Please, if you’re struggling with being stuck at home, read through - I really think that it’s great advice.

Past that, for me, one thing that I’ve really had to do is make sure I’m adhering to the habits I have - making a point of getting up at the same time, making sure to stick with showering every day and getting dressed even if I’m not going anywhere, stickign with semi-regular mealtimes, that kind of stuff. It sounds like little things, but honestly just keeping those habits has been really centering for me. One thing that I’ve added in, too, is going for walks, weather permitting. This past Sunday was particularly nice; it got up to 72 degrees, perfect walking weather, for a couple of hours. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but just being able to get outside even a little bit has been really helpful for me.

The other thing, which is less about managing the flow of time and more about just keeping my social stability, has been staying connected the best I can. I’m trying to stay engaged with the online communities I’m part of, we have some regular activities that we do more often now, that’s been really helpful. Jackbox games, board games, stuff like that where we’re talking actively and interacting - it helps. Even if I’m not getting that in person face-to-face contact, it’s still really helpful to participate in those conversations. I’ve been calling family, too, the last little while, and that’s been helpful as well - just catching up, checking in on each other. Nothing major, but enough to stay centered and in touch.

One thing that has really stuck in my head is that this is a legitimately unprecedented event in our experience. Like, I - and, I think, almost everyone who reads this - have no reference point with which to compare this. I think, in a situation like that, it’s okay to ask for support, and important to leverage the networks you have to get that support and to support others. I really think that at least here in the States we’re in for the long haul with this one, so it’s important to make sure to check in frequently for the foreseeable future.

Coping aside, I have actually done some stuff as well during this time of sheltering in place. Most of it’s been pretty basic, but it’s good stuff. The funny part is that it seems like everyone else I know is doing a lot of the same things, but I suppose that’s something that’ll happen when everyone’s stuck at home.

The first one - and this is the one that I think really has had an explosion in popularity more broadly, especially considering the flour aisle at the grocery store - is baking bread. Focaccia, in my case - I basically followed this Serious Eats recipe and it turned out pretty well, especially considering how underwhelming my rise was. I’m excited to do some more of this as the days wear on, but in the meantime Sarah went ahead and threw together a batch of brownies. Good ones, too! Nice and gooey all the way through, still crisp around the edges, and to top that off we discovered the secret ingredient to really excellent brownies: almond extract. I dropped a little bit in on a whim, and the taste is just phenomenal. Give it a shot the next time you decide to whip up a batch; I promise it’s worth it.

Me, with my hair dyed fuschia, out walking on a breezy, sunny day. The other big thing I’ve done this week was dyeing my hair. I’ve done this before, as devoted followers of my life may remember, but I went for a fuschia this time and I was really amazed by how great it looks! (Not pictured: I also found out that I’m finally to the point where I can actually put my hair up without having it look ridiculous. This was really, really cool to discover.)

I did do one other thing, too. It feels a little smaller, but I feel like it’s really had a positive impact on me so far. Back when I was a kid, I was diagnosed with ADHD and was medicated for it. I stopped taking the medicine after a while for a number of reasons (didn’t like the way it made me feel, didn’t want to put the effort in to find a new provider at college, a couple of other things) but over the last few months I had really noticed how much ADHD symptoms were impacting my work and personal life. I made the decision to seek treatment for it and was prescribed medication last week, and it has genuinely really helped me focus, especially here at home, which is not quite as distraction-free as the office.

I think those are the big ones. There are some miscellaneous things like starting to order takeout or delivery from some local restaurants - I’m a bit concerned that some of them may not have the money to reopen after being shut down - or other small things, but I just kind of wanted to go through the stuff that has been, like, these big conscious things. I don’t know if any of this is helpful in any way from the perspective of, like, helping other people but I just wanted to take some time and talk about my experiences so far.