OPINION: Where to go from here? Life amid COVID-19

It’s difficult to describe my personal COVID-19 experience without saying what the majority of the world has already said. I’ve stayed inside, caught up on a year’s worth of movies and television while occasionally leaving the house for essentials or work. Boiling down these past months to the bare bones, this is truly all I have been doing. Mostly just trying to busy my day and survive the wrench toss that has been 2020. However, one thought that has been trailing across the mind is: “What is going to be the result of all of this?” 

Now, this is an expansive question, encompassing numerous answers from different sides of the die. Some answers are a bit easier to determine. However, there still seems to be a lack of concrete evidence to point to a direction we could be heading toward. There is the physical side, including the health and financial strain that has weighed on me. The other, more emotional, immaterial side of the coin, is what’s been weighing on my mind the most during quarantine. No doubt, the financial aspect of the fallout from COVID-19 has had an immense effect on my life at the current time. However, I’ve talked to many people, both my age and older, and they’re stuck in this similar critical situation — they either stay safe at home, but risk losing their income or go out to their jobs, but risk exposure to the virus. Anybody without some sort of financial stability is in a constant state of playing with fire just to survive. 

Having your brain in a constant state of survival mode is bound to lead to some long term mental health difficulties. I know that since being in quarantine, my mental health has rapidly fluctuated depending on the week and the events within it. One day is filled with extended naps, endless Youtube mixes and late-night dissociation episodes — I was trying to somehow project from my brain and current situations. However, some days I am vibrating with energy and creativity, writing down new ideas for stories or drawings. I take the bus to window-shop at stores while listening to new books or practicing French. These days, even though I do wear a mask and keep my phalanges clean, interacting with the outside world doesn’t seem so taxing.

Still, even in these lively periods, the uncertainty of what is going to happen continues to dawdle around my mind. My plans and future goals are placed on indefinite hold as a result of the pandemic. Facing the reality of this is overwhelming most days, sometimes putting me in a phase of mental paralysis, which leads to the previously mentioned days of long naps. It’s not even just the fact that things didn’t work out the way I wanted to, or I’m unable to do certain things without a sense of danger. It’s the fact that my plans, as well as millions of others, have been placed on the layaway shelf with no further answers nor a deadline to when we can regain control over it. I just can’t help but wonder how deep and long the mental dents of this unpredictability will last. That, along with the financial downturn that has resulted from everybody staying inside. Overall, I can’t help but feel like everything behind us has been tossed into the air, breaking apart as it’s thrown upward. Now though, we’re still in that state of flailing mid-air with no plan to stick the fall safely. 

Where to go from here? My other words might allude someone into thinking that we should stay in this spiral of negativity until this is over. However, I don’t believe that it would determine any essential fixes that we need going forward — not saying anyone should bask exclusively in the sunshine either. I’ve been keeping a realistic balance between the hopeful and gloomy sides. This mindset keeps me grounded and allows for wiggle room to endure the bad days I know are over the horizon. The negativity is still going to be there throughout the entirety of this pandemic, I won’t try to deny it. But, I also don’t want it to overtake this strange period we are all in, as we’ve still got a long way to go before this is finally over.