Love in the time of Corona Virus
How I learned to love myself while in quarantine
One Friday night in the middle of March, while driving for Lyft in San Francisco, I started coughing. My chest hurt and I felt like I almost couldn't catch my breath. I called the advice nurse who scheduled a call with a doctor the next morning. I was beside myself. Was it Covid-19? Was I going to die? As a lifelong Asthmatic, I couldn't seem to keep myself from going to the most catastrophic scenario. And what about my passengers? Best case scenario, I'd only had it for 2 days, thus potentially infecting at least 40 people. Worst case, I'd had it for 2 weeks, and infected 200+ people.
The doctor appointment went about like I assumed. He put me on immediate quarantine but said, and I quote, "there aren't enough tests to go around." After allowing myself a small panic attack, I set to work trying to find someone who would be willing to bring me some food, since I hadn't gone shopping for anything in about a week. I hadn't been able to do laundry in about 2 weeks.
My aunt was the first person to respond to my frantic texts. She and my mom stopped at Walmart, grabbing some food and baby wipes (they were out of toilet paper) before checking in with me. I tried to stay upbeat. but I was scared. I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford the luxury of living alone, but that meant that I was now home. Alone. No contact. For 2 weeks.
As a millennial, I haven't actually had vacation since 2013. So, while I was anxious about the possibility of being sick, I actually was looking forward to having two weeks to myself.
For the first few days, I read. A lot. And played the Sims which I'd purchased months earlier but hadn't even had a chance to start playing. But I was also exhausted. I slept for about 30 hours in those first two days.
As the days wore on, I really missed human contact. I was used to being around a lot of people for 12+ hours a day at my job. And I went from interacting with 20 to 30 people daily to zero human contact. While I couldn't exactly hug anyone, I still tried to have people come over and visit through my screen door. But by this point the entire state of California was on lock down.
The only relief I could find was waiting until midnight, loading up my dog, and going for a drive. I live about 20 minutes from the cost and so I would go park and watch the stars, listening to the waves. I'm my dog's emotional support human, so she would often climb onto my lap, rest her head on my shoulder and close her eyes. We'd sit for about an hour before going home.
But the fact of the matter was that I was alone. Even with my nightly drives, I'd never felt so alone in my life. My depression started to convince me that I would die alone. That my pets would eat me and no one would find me for weeks. Worse was when my depression started to tell me that I was unlovable and it was my fault for kicking out my abusive husband; negative self talk it took months of therapy to overcome.
My life had become meaningless. I couldn't work, I couldn't see anyone. Everyone was so busy and worried about the virus that I couldn't bring myself to try and reach out. My depression broke, giving way to nightly panic attacks that left me crying on the floor of my bathroom clutching my dog. I felt as though my emotions were sand, burying me alive. In those moments I didn't care. I wanted to die. In the morning I would wake up blurry-eyed with a pounding headache, and more than once in the same spot with my dog snoring in my arms.
One such morning my head hurt so much that I was physically nauseous. I couldn't even keep simple toast down. As I brushed my teeth, I looked at myself in the mirror. My sallow skinned reflection showed signs of petechiae, little red pinpoint dots that appear after vomiting.
I didn't deserve what I'd been putting my body through. I owed myself more. I deserved love. The first step was to ask my doctor for an antidepressant. Who knew how long lock down would last? I needed to start taking care of my mental health immediately. I started walking my dog and sitting in nature. And I started video chatting with my friends. I even have one friend who has offered to let me chat with him any time, day or night. I also wrote my best qualities on the mirror so that I would have a reference of my positives when my mood is a little low.
Everyday is a little better. I have conversations with myself about all of the good shit I want to do. I want to go on adventures. I want to fall in love with someone who will treat me the way I deserve. I want to write and I want to be seen. Above all, I want to be happy.