It would be an exaggeration to say I’ve been a funk the last couple of months, but something has felt off that I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on. It isn’t pandemic fatigue, although it exists. I couldn’t articulate until it came out of the blue yesterday like a lightning bolt. I’m not sad, angry, or depressed. What I am is disconnected.
When you have MS, and your physical abilities are limited, you’re a little disconnected already because social things like golfing are off the table, travelling is a burden, and even going to places like the beach is hard. Your social agenda and calendar are limited to visiting friends or having them at the house.
We also have the socialization at work, where you feel connected to your peers and the organization you work for. Speaking for myself, I can always get a sense of the mood of the organization, and the political dramas that play out when I am in the office. Almost two years of working almost exclusively from home made me realize I took that for granted, because now we are faces on a Zoom call. It isn’t the same.
The pandemic has changed a lot for everyone, but not all of it has been bad. We’ve learned not to take for granted some of the lowest paid employees that provide essential services, like day care providers, folks in the human services arena, the folks who store the shelves of our grocery and department stores, and the folks who work retail.
We’ve learned, I hope, how critical our healthcare employees and institutions are. I say I hope because I know that nurses and doctors are burned out from not only two years of being on the front lines, but because this most recent surge has brought out a lot of the ugliness that resides on our society today. How else can you explain the anger and vitriol they have had to endure from those who choose not to heed the advice to get vaccinated, are angry about the consequences of their choices, and vent their spleen on those charged with taking care of them?
Being disconnected lends itself to feeling isolated, alone, and completely detached of communal support about anything. We all want to be accepted and feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves, but it’s hard when you feel like you are on your own and nobody cares. It robs us of optimism, self-esteem, and happiness.
I suspect COVID will be in our lives for some time. We will learn to adapt to it, and a new normal will evolve that allows us gather without having to think about the likelihood of getting infected. Some would argue we are already there, but when you have surges that push the infection rate from two or three percent to over twenty, I beg to differ.
Some of the things that have evolved from this are here for good, and working from home will be one of those things, especially for people who aren’t in a field that requires being face to face with a customer, patient, student or client, like me.
I plan on going into the office once or twice a week this spring, when the weather is warmer and the infection rates are (presumably) back to the two the three percent range, and know others who feel the same way. We’re hoping it will help alleviate this feeling of isolation and being disconnected from anything normal or routine. If not, we may have to throw caution to the wind, continue to do what is needed stay reasonably safe from getting very sick or dying should we become infected (like getting vaccinated/boosters) and live life instead of existing.
Because the status quo really sucks.