The Shelter In Place Diaries: Moments of Panic

The Shelter in Place Diaries


Downtown Seattle

In writing there’s a thing called voice. It’s how you sound. It refers to how you come through the page or the screen. And when I blog, my voice is often confident. Kinda businessy. My voice may say… here is someone who thinks and who swears a lot and who seems to have a plan.

But my voice isn’t me, exactly. For one thing, I’m less confident than I sound. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes you can’t be confident, you know. Sometimes plans don’t help! And sometimes you freak out because there’s a pandemic sweeping the globe.

If you’re freaking out – if you’re downright scared right now – you’re not the only one.

I recently read this article in the NYTimes about a woman who was watching her husband get sicker and sicker at home. It sounded like he was going to die. And I kept thinking about all those rumors swirling. Men get sick more. And type A blood may be linked to worse outcomes. Are these things true? I can’t be sure, but I find myself believing the headlines.

So when I was heading out to shop for vegetables and P (my male, Type A blood-having partner) wanted to come with me, I panicked. I told him that he couldn’t go inside the store. It wasn’t safe! And out of the blue I was ready to burst out crying.

Right then, all I wanted to do was to lock my husband inside the house. I was, momentarily, very much NOT okay. My head was full of pictures of dying husbands and helpless wives.

P, good sport that he is, agreed not to go into the store. And I knew I wasn’t being entirely rational. We take precautions. We wash our hands and our vegetables. Still, I spent much of the day feeling weepy and afraid. You can push your worries away for a long time, but then your fears bum rush you when you’re least prepared.

Fears are jerks.

And we’re living with fear. How could we not be? These are scary times. We are not in control of this virus, only our own behavior. And we cannot guarantee the safety of those we love.

When I read about people hoarding guns or toilet paper or canned soup my first reaction is to think they’re stupid. But I also get it. We’re all trying to control the uncontrollable right now. And we all want to keep our loved ones safe. But we can’t. Not perfectly. So we do what we can.

As for me, I won’t be reading any more first-person accounts of coronavirus experiences. If I’m lucky, I won’t need to know these things. And if I’m not lucky, pre-experiencing trauma doesn’t help one bit.

So I’ll take a break from my fears and watch Picard with P. I’ll get a good nights sleep. I’ll wash my hands often and sanitize the door knobs, remotes, and phones. And I’ll say a little prayer (in my own fashion) for everyone in the world while we wait this out.