Of everything I could have ever thought I’d need to worry about in life, surviving a pandemic was not one of them. I’ve been limiting (or more like avoiding) leaving my house for weeks now, with the only exceptions being to take a walk in my neighborhood—or *gasp*—go grocery shopping. The latter activity has been more for my grandmother than myself, but lately, it has become the cause of serious anxiety. I try to limit my grocery shopping to Saturdays and only visit one store. But as the virus has continued to spread, I’ve found myself crippled by severe anxiety when it comes time to leave the house and be anywhere in the vicinity of other people. And, yes—I know that I could order groceries online, but it doesn’t seem like that is much of a help with stores being out of stock and delivery times being longer than usual.
A few weeks back, when social distancing was becoming a household word, my biggest fear was being cooped up by myself for weeks on end. The mere mention of quarantine or a lockdown would send me into tears. Now, I find myself perfectly content at home where I know I’m safe and a wreck when I need to go out. As I was preparing to go grocery shopping this past Saturday, I thought about my fears. I had never thought I would ever live anywhere where I was afraid to leave my house—let alone, feel that way in my own country.
As news of the virus began to unfold these last few weeks and reports of more and more cases emerged on Long Island, I remember feeling completely alone in the world. I wondered if I had enough food, had taken the correct protective measures, and even thought about what might happen if I got sick. Despite having friends and family around, I was consumed by this feeling of being isolated.
While it’s been difficult at times to stay home, I have a responsibility to do my part to help flatten the curve and I feel fortunate to be able to work remotely, get groceries when I need them, and still be able to bring groceries out to my grandmother, especially when the healthcare workers on the frontlines are working tirelessly and risking their lives to save ours.
If this whole surreal experience has taught me anything, it’s that the only thing that truly matters in life is how you treat yourself and others. I’ve been in awe of how many people whom I haven’t spoken to in years have reached out to me to check-in. I’m grateful to have friends who offer to grocery shop for me. And I will never again allow myself to feel that I am alone in this world because I am anything but. I know I have a whole community that is standing by me and ready to assist in any way that they can and I am truly thankful for that.
I’ve always loved having a mantra and if there was ever a time to embrace one, I think this is it. My mantra moving forward is ‘this too shall pass.’ And while we know it will and we hope and pray that it passes quickly, I hope the lessons of it don’t. Moving forward, let’s remember to be kinder than necessary, to check in with our neighbors, and to tell the people who are important to us how we feel about them.
How are you coping?