What to Do Versus What Not to Do

Perhaps not since Cinderella was waltzing with one eye on the clock has a midnight loomed so large. More precisely, 11:59 pm, when the next set of (confusing) anti- COVID restrictions will settle over us. How does this this change things?  

Most of the folks I know have been in the range from fairly scrupulous to absolutely fastidious about corona restrictions. No one is attending class, school is online. No one is going into the office to work (except my crazy ex-husband.) No one is throwing parties or going to bars. No one is leaving the house without a mask, except for some of my neighbors, who think it’s ok to walk the dog without a face covering. I disagree, but I don’t have a dog. 

You already know what to do – wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t hang out with the people you don’t live with. Shop as infrequently as possible, and outdoors is best (your local farmer’s market ticks all the boxes.) Order food as often as you can afford to – no chains, just the locals. And tip those delivery folks as lavishly as you can. Reach out to your friends, particularly those who live alone. Phone calls are better than emails – just hearing a voice can be a nice reminder of humanity. 

Since only one of the people I live with goes out to work on an occasional basis, I feel like we are doing a pretty good job. So far, no one I know has gotten sick, (except my crazy ex-husband – anyone surprised?) 

There have been deaths, but all of them friends and relatives in other states. My California crowd is doing ok. Except when we are kind of not ok. 

Without a single physical symptom, we are all pretty sick of the pandemic, the quarantine and the craziness. 

My friends who are kind enough to listen to me blather when I go off on an intellectual rant have heard a theme over the past eight months; we know so little about mental health, and this is going push us to know more. 

Comparing coronavirus to the black plague, we are in the same place with mental health that they were before germ theory. We don’t even know what we don’t know. People who have suffered with anxiety, depression, other challenges are buckling under the weight. People who would have said they didn’t have mental health issues before the pandemic are noticing problems; insomnia, food issues, the strange sense of time. It’s unsettling, and yes, it can feel pretty crazy. 

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are being approved and rolled out. Some countries, those who have functioning governments, are already moving into a post-COVID phase. I do not subscribe to the idea of ‘returning to normal.’ We need to keep moving forward with change. 

What not to do – Don’t despair, don’t pretend this isn’t happening, don’t stop being politically active just because the election is over.  Don’t ignore your intuition, but don’t let it ramp up into overthinking. Don’t give up on your goals or your plans – just know that building in some space for change is vital. 

Because when COVID- 22 shows up – and it will – we need to have a much better set of mechanisms in place. 

Judith Martin-Straw

Want more info? https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-12-05/whats-the-science-behind-l-a-s-latest-covid-19-restrictions


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