When stories about the coronavirus made the news, I figured it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal. I thought it would be like the time the Ebola virus scared the crap out of everyone a few years ago. I remember everyone calling it, “Dat ‘bola” and joking around about it. Corona on the other hand… when I tell you I was wrong… *sighs*. Lord, I was wrong. Suddenly everyone was calling it “the ‘Rona”, and it was here in the U.S. spreading quickly.
As an introvert, I actually benefit greatly from the strict quarantine back in April and May. On a selfish level, I enjoyed the new “normal” of having a global pandemic. I sat at home alone, leaving the neighborhood only once a week to get groceries on my bike.
I’ll admit there were some not so healthy coping skills used some days. That was mostly due to boredom. Also, I won’t lie. I watched the entire Keeping up with the Kardashians series, because I’m not one to judge something without experiencing it.
It gets on my nerves when people are like, “Ugh, I hate Twilight.”
And you ask, “Well have you read any of the books or seen any of the movies?”
And they say, “No.”
So how do you know then? If I don’t like something, it’s because I experienced it in its entirety and formed my own opinions. And for the record, I don’t like Twilight or Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Neither were my cup of tea.
I got lucky, though. This time has been life-changing and traumatic for many, with jobs and family members’ lives on the line. A lot of folks aren’t built for isolation (read: extroverts), and there’s been a marked uptick in depression and anxiety from what my therapist says. People weren’t prepared to deal with this kind of stressor.
Which coping skills were the most helpful?
I used healthy coping skills most days, by reading self-help books, dancing and singing poorly in my bedroom or living room, and journaling like crazy. I watched Rick and Morty all the way through (Good byyyyyyyyyyyyyyye moon men!) about three times. That show never gets old. I also watched Bojack Horseman the whole way through, because if anyone needs to learn healthy coping skills, it’s a depressed alcoholic horse!
I really enjoyed riding my bike. I rode it once a week to go to Publix, but also took it on spins around my neighborhood. My bike (The Blue Bombshell) was purchased right after I got out of the hospital. I love her so much. Staying active while maintaining social distancing was super easy on my bike. Biking is also easier on my knees, my newest percussion instruments (welcome to age 31, ha!). I got to see a lot of my neighbors but didn’t have to interact with them. Most were walking their dogs or jogging, so it was encouraging to see others using healthy coping skills as well!
Another coping activity I enjoyed was coloring. Those adult coloring books are the bee’s knees. They help us be mindful and fully immersed in what we’re doing. I colored a lot while the Kardashians were in the background doing whatever it is that they “do”. I actually looked up a color wheel on Google and learned about complementary colors and complimentary colors. It made my coloring book look less like a preschooler went to town on it.
Quarantine dancing was my absolute favorite coping skill. I love to dance, but dancing does not love me. Oh my god, I’m so bad at it. But I have enthusiasm and energy to back me up. I swear one of my worst memories of dancing was at Cowboy’s Dancehall in San Antonio, TX. I got really excited about the song that came on and threw my hands in the air while smacking one of my best friends in the face simultaneously lmao. So be warned… if you’re with me and dancing… practice social distancing for your own safety!
Which coping skills weren’t the best idea?
I, like many people, found myself drunk by 11 a.m. because sometimes there just wasn’t anything else to do. At first, I felt bad about it, but looking through Instagram and other social media, I realized plenty of people were doing the same thing. That didn’t exactly make it a good thing to do, but I felt less alone in running out of good ideas. I did find this hilarious video that spoke to my heart. Go Kermit! Go Kermit!
Another not so great coping skill was picking at my skin. I don’t know what it is about having acne in my 30’s, but it’s not the wave. It’s just that much more infuriating because I’m not 13 years old. A lot of times, I found myself sitting cross-legged in my bathroom sink with a pair of tweezers and one of those silver popper tools. I have a love-hate relationship with acne. If I miraculously am not in the middle of a breakout, I go watch Dr. PimplePopper on YouTube. I don’t understand my fascination with all that goop and gunk coming out of people’s skin, but I’m like a moth to a flame. It’s so gross, but so satisfying. I’m shuddering just thinking about it.
The ‘Rona has been horrifying on many levels, though. I don’t want it to seem like it was just a fun time. It has been astonishing to see how many lives have been lost and how quickly. Another thing that was completely unexpected was how the disease quickly multiplied and how to stop or slow the spread has become political. It’s got me wondering if The Walking Dead zombie apocalypse was strictly in the United States, and the rest of the world was thriving. I understand that American individualism is something that’s supposed to be a point of pride, but when it comes to people’s friends and family dying… shouldn’t we all just adhere to policies to keep everyone safe? That just my opinion, but we all think differently.
So many things have been impacted, and the new normal is this weird mishmash of things are kind of the way they were before the ‘Rona but not really. It is a little overwhelming to see the division on social media with anti-maskers and people who cough on others intentionally. I don’t understand their perspective, but it’s theirs. It’s not my place to judge, because I have no idea what’s going on in their noggins. My hope is that eventually people come together by staying apart and do what’s necessary to keep each other safe. A big aspect of the ‘Rona that has weighed on my mind is the families affected by it. I really feel sad for people that have lost grandparents, parents, friends, or children. I can’t imagine their grief and pain.
Finding the bright spots in the pandemic has been a major part of using healthy coping skills, but I do not want to take away from how serious this matter is. I really hope everyone is out their taking good care of themselves and able to manage their mental health under these unique circumstances.