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In The Time Of The Great Pandemic: The Heartbreak & Hope

This is their story of life and love, heartbreak and hope during the great pandemic.
Please share your own here or email becky.harks@gmail.com or stacey@bandbacktogether.com

It’s 3AM right now.

Of course I can’t sleep, which isn’t really new for me, but it seems new right now. Now, the things that keep me up all night are the unknown, the terrifying, and the huge.

These are the scattered thoughts, flitting around my brain – I’ve got to get them out of I’ll explode. Well, maybe I won’t, but I know I need to talk with someone other than my wife. She’s so patient and loves me so much but she needs a break.

Maybe we all need a break, but here goes what I’m thinking about.

There are so many things.

Just. So. Much. Pandemic.

I have friends that I love dearly. DEARLY. They are in Manhattan right now (currently a hotbed for CoVID-19) & I’m so scared that I might lose them.

I have family that are immunocompromised and/or are in a higher risk age bracket. I’m terrified that I’ll lose them too.

I, myself, am immune compromised! OMG! CRAP!

People are talking about comparable periods in recent history so we have some sort of frame of reference for how to act. Some are talking about 9/11, others are talking about the Great Depression (which my parent’s lived through), but it’s really not like that. I briefly considered the Cuban Missile Crisis based on the major fear we’re all trying to live through.

But it dawns on me: the early 80’s and HIV/AIDS crisis – originally called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) – we’ve been through this – the fear, the isolation of sick people in hospitals, not understanding what was going on, what to expect, who would be sick, and how they would become ill. The lack of available medical treatments. And the fear; all the fucking fear.

Maybe one way to get through all this is ask one of your gays who lived through this what it was like back then: we’ll tell you to stay fabulous, keep on loving, and protect you and your loved ones at all costs.

My son’s school wants us to do internet learning with him. Are they stinking crazy? I’m not going to do that with him! He’s scared too – if I’m up at 3AM with all these thoughts, I cannot imagine trying to teach my kid but I will help him to do is best and help him if he needs it. I cannot imagine doing any of this homeschooling stuff people are doing – my son’s got enough on his little plate. He’s 13 – I can’t even IMAGINE being his age and going through this. If you think for even one minute that these kids think this is some type of extended vacation, you’re wrong: these kids are as scared as we are.

Every night now, around 7PM, people around the world are going outside, clapping and shouting and making noise for all these healthcare – and other essential – workers right now. These brave people put each other in actual danger every single day that they go to work. They’re exhausted. They’re overworked. They don’t even have the proper equipment to do their jobs safely. I mean, people around the world are SEWING masks for them.

This is insane. Absolutely insane.

We don’t have enough toilet paper and we can’t find any. All of the stores are out they don’t know when they are getting more. I guess we are going to have to start sewing toilet paper too.

What are people without homes going to do?

How do they stay safe?

What about people in prisons?

\How do we keep them safe?

CoVID-19 sucks.

This is the most bizarre experience of my life. I alternate between denial and absolute terror 23 times a day.

I went grocery shopping earlier today & it’s clear that people are on their last nerve.

It took all of my mental energy to get through that.

I wore a mask and gloves when I went out, and as a woman passed me and saw my mask she said me, “You know, if you’re healthy, those masks aren’t going to do anything for you anyway.” I acted like I didn’t hear her. Maybe the mask isn’t going to help. But it isn’t hurting her.

People are scared. Let it go. Have some compassion for each other.

That’s what I say to her in my head.

Then, I realized she is under unimaginable stress too. I gave her compassion and I changed my mental response to her – I reminded myself that she’s scared too.

There’s world-wide uncertainty right now & we’re all grasping for a feeling of control. She is too; she’s scared like the rest of us.

Maybe the way she is navigating her fear is wanting to know more than other people; she needs that right now. And so I mentally forgave her because I totally understand where she is coming from.

There is a beautiful sense of solidarity happening too. I think that it’s appropriate for me to be positive and hopeful here now. People all over are jumping in and helping. Delivering food and meds to people who can’t get out. Delivering food to hospital workers who are not able to get breaks to go out and get food for themselves. People are giving out free lunches for families who depend on the schools for those meals.

It’s quite beautiful.

I am so fortunate too.

I have a roof over my head, and no threat of losing that (at least right now). I have an amazing wife that is on this journey with me, and who is solid when I need her to be.

I get to be solid when she needs me to be, and that helps me just as much. I have an amazing son who is challenging and fun and healthy. I have food in my belly and no threat of losing that.

I’m fortunate. I’m privileged. I am also grateful. I don’t take this for granted.

I do have hope. And I do believe that everyone around the world is doing their very best to take care of each other.

What an amazingly strange time to be alive.

Life In The Time Of The Great Pandemic: The The ‘VID/The Flu & My Kid

Last week (or was it 2 weeks ago – I’m not being coy – I honestly don’t remember) my dad called me, which is about as rare as me saying “I heart mayo” because I loathe mayo with the energy of a thousand suns. It’s not that we’re “not okay” or something, we just don’t have much to say to each other – he’s in California, I’m not. But, being alive in the Great Pandemic means you’re generally reaching out to people who you don’t normally talk to.

I’d expected him to say that either he or my mom had gotten The ‘VID because they’re old and they have multiple comorbidities.

I didn’t expect the words that spilled out of his mouth next: “we think Ben either has The Flu or CoVID-19.” I got the details, sparse as they were from them and tried, again, to reach my kid, but because he is a teenager, his phone is often off, which actually makes zero sense now that I’m typing it out, but that’s just the way it is.

ANYWAY.

That made his phone being off all the more concerning. But, I’m a good (wo)man in a storm and I’m all about fact-gathering rather than fear mongering or falling prostrate at someone’s… feet? Prostate? I’m not sure where I was going with that.

He’s in the same state, but not the same county, so I called that county’s health department and after I got through about 46 minute message telling me all the shit I already knew about The ‘VID (and pathogens in general), I was asked to leave a message. My guess is that that recorded seminar makes most people hang up, but I was in the car and had literally nothing else whatsoever to do.

I left my message and expected a return call about… let’s say NEVER? I figured they’d be hammered by everyone in the county to dispel some of the more outlandish things that Trump has said, so imagine my surprise when I got a callback.

Without having spoken with The Kid, I couldn’t really speak to what the symptoms he was facing were. His fever. His cough. But I did explain that he was safe and self-quarantined, and being a hermit and a teenager, had no thermometer OR desire to leave his hidey-hole. She sounded relieved.

When she was asked when he should get tested (this was when we all believed that we’d be able to get tested), she informed me – not unkindly – that “they’re not doing tests for “normal” people.”

Which is, I guess how another – WAY WAY WAY QUEEN OF BLOGS – blogger got herself tested twice (because two is better than one!!) and every asymptomatic celebrity who wants one can be tested in multiples. Me? I’m an OG blogger who’s been radio silent for years now – and my spawn aren’t special enough for a test.

But whatever. Only mildly bitter.

(lies)

The other nurse confirmed what I’d thought: stay in quarantine for 3 days after the fever broke (he doesn’t have a thermometer, I was thinking, but okay). Don’t go out until the cough is gone. All the other infection control protocols were in place, so yay. Oh, and the county hadn’t had a SINGLE confirmed case yet.

I wanted to yell “BECAUSE THERE ARE NO CELEBS AROUND THERE, ASSHOLE,” but it’s not her fault so I kept my grousing to myself. And, I guess, now to you.

Because I was unable to access The Kid for a couple of more days, my dad and I spoke daily – The Kid was on an upswing, then downswing, then up, then down. Finally, The Kid, Himself, called me. I told him what I’d learned from the health department (nothing I didn’t know EXCEPT that you have to have a platinum vagina to get tested). He said he’d called the hospital at one point a couple of days before, because he was coughing so hard he’d pass out.

Awesome.

The gist of it was “suck it up buttercup, you can’t come to the hospital with a cough,” which threw me through a loop.

AWEsome.

I’ve been texting with The Kid and he’s still got the cough and is doing a sleep-eat-play (video games before he passes out again) – cycle, which I’d been doing the week before. Whelp, without the video games.

He has his piano keyboard so he’s keeping busy, but he’s now, like the rest of us, falling pretty depressed. Like him (and I’d be guessing a good number of you as well), I’ve been struggling to even get off the couch. Today marks my first day back on the computer doing something other than watching the dwindling amount of traffic on the road and all of the incantations of My 90 Day Fiance – FOR THE SECOND TIME – which is just absurd enough to keep me from becoming a total slug.

(most days)

TL;DR

My kid sounds like he had CoVID-19 but was to normal, per the health department (who also stated that there were no confirmed cases in that county) he was too normal to be tested.

The hospital told him that if he had a cough – one of the dangerous-this-may-kill-you hallmarks of CoVID-19 – he couldn’t come into the hospital.

So my kid likely had CoVID-19, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know,

He’s depressed now, I’m depressed, hell, everyone I know is depressed.

But, I dragged my ass to the computer to give you a taste of what it’s like in my world.

Now we need to hear yours: we are none of us alone; we are all connected.

Please, login here, or send an email to becky@bandbacktogether.com or stacey@bandbacktogether.com to let us know what life is like in YOUR world.

Life In The Great Pandemic: Coping with a Pandemic

I’m stressed. There is a lot going on out there, it feels like the information changes every day. My kids are home all day, every day. They don’t get to run around with their friends, even if we do see them while we are out for a walk. The news coming out of Italy gets more bleak by the minute, and I wonder if we are doing enough to stop this before it hits us like a runaway truck.

I worry about being able to feed my family long term, assuming this continues, which doesn’t feel like a stretch. I worry about my family, all of whom live at least 175 miles away. I worry the grocery stores will have to close because all their employees get sick. I worry that all medical personnel are burning themselves out and will suffer tremendously for it. I worry about the scientists working day and night to give us concrete answers.

This novel coronavirus has kicked my anxiety into full gear. I spend my days and nights imagining all the worst case scenarios. Sleep is not relief from this. The tension in my shoulders, jaw, whole body never releases. Taking a complete, deep breath seems impossible. My brain is a squirrel on meth stuck on a hamster wheel.

I talk to others online about their concerns, and I find all of them relatable. Maybe not in a specific detail kind of way, but in a general kind of way. I’m not a single mom struggling to care for her special needs child with no extra cash to even start to stock up on basics I may need. I’m not a new mom feeling isolated after building my routine around meeting up with friendly faces three times a week. I’m not the mom of a medically fragile child, panicked because people just can’t take this seriously.

I’m not these specific people. But I understand their struggles. Yesterday, I wrote a little post full of sass about how to survive. The sass hid the truth. This is not normal. It is not sustainable for our mental health. I need my friends and support system as much as anyone. And I need to support people just as much.

If you read this far, thank you. If you find that you just need to vent your fears, write them out here. You can post it anonymously, even we won’t be able to identify you. If you have some kind of resource I can link to that would help some of the people I listed above, shout them out. We will link anything that will help.

Lots of love, but don’t touch me,

Stacey

Ask The Band: Mental Relapse

It feels like everyone around me is sinking further and further down this whirlpool of insanity. Meanwhile, I’m floating on some shitty piece of driftwood yards away. I’m holding on for dear life, eyes closed, hoping i don’t get sucked back in to that hole. I’m sick of that feeling. it’s almost worse than drowning in the whirlpool itself.

t’s hard to come to grips with the fact that no matter how well I’m doing, I’m probably gonna end up feeling like complete shit again, because that’s just the way my brain cookie crumbles.

Thoughts?

Ask The Band: I Don’t Know What I Am Going To Do

I live in fear.

Lots of different fears, but this is the one getting the most airtime right now.

You see, I present a lovely picture of control and happiness to the outside world. The truth, however, is that I struggle far more for control than I should, and happiness has made only brief genuine appearances in the past year or two.

Because of my lovely picture (which is in constant need of maintenance), I cannot talk to many people about the constant weight on my shoulders. This situation is not helped by the recent loss of the two closest friendships I have, which happened as these things do, with only small amounts of shared blame.

I’ve been limping along for a while now, managing occasionally to feel like life is worthwhile and these wonderful times of hope are mostly because of my wonderful husband, the one person in the world that I am not afraid to cry with, the one person I know will not think less of me, or dismiss my pain.

This wonderful husband just got a short-term contract (four months) in a city six hours from here. It is a wonderful opportunity for him, one which I happily encouraged him to take, but I cannot go with him for various reasons.

During the day this seems like something I can manage; after all, he’ll still be here on the weekends, and it’s only for a little while.

But at night, the darkness invades my heart, and I cling tightly to him, terrified by the thought of being apart from him for even one night. Because along with being my best friend and soul mate, he is frequently my salvation.

It is because of him that I have not dropped out of grad school under the overwhelming apathy that threatens to prevent me from finishing assignments.

It is because of him that I can sort through my often tangled feelings and come out the other end feeling like I might be okay.

It is with him, and only him, that I can say that haunting word “depression” and not feel like I have to have a treatment plan all mapped out for his perusal.

Five days a week without him is five mornings I have to get out of bed and go to class. It’s 80 waking hours that I cannot debrief in his arms. It’s five evenings of dread, knowing what’s coming when I get too tired to fight it off, and it’s five nights of hugging my pillow, praying sleep will come before the melancholy attacks.

glitter on woman eye mommy wants vodka

I don’t know what I am going to do.

Fear, A Poem About My Eating Disorder

I hate the way I look when I’m in front of the mirror.

Its a constant battle, always running on my greatest fear.

Who is going to love these rolls and cellulite?

Can’t wear this or that because it feels too tight.

Baggy sweats and sleeping alone at night.

Have to restrict or live with guilt after a meal.

Food is the go to, to change the way I feel.

Eating until my stomach is going to burst.

Punishing myself after, my choices are the worst.

Tomorrow I’ll do better, I won’t do it again.

Hop on the scale and I’ve gained another ten.

Shame and self loathing begin to spiral,

I get on my knees on the bathroom tile.

I have to purge this feeling, immediate relief

Now the enamel is wearing off of my teeth.

Run the water so no one can hear.

That being unlovable is my biggest fear.