Our county now is showing 35 known cases of Corona virus. I say “known” because we didn’t have abundant testing until very recently. Who knows how many people have had it already. I don’t think it’s been that prevalent – our nursing homes didn’t seem to have an outbreak. We now have a drive-thru testing site about 20 minutes south of us near the State Police barracks. Until there is anti-body testing, it’s impossible to say how many people were exposed in the area though.
2013 was my “year from hell”, to co-opt a Star Trek: Voyager episode. For anyone who doesn’t know, that year I lost my mother to cancer in February. In April my mother-in-law died. In June my oldest daughter committed suicide. My aunt died in October. In December, an internet friend who I knew for many years who shared the exact same birthday as me died of a massive heart attack. I started out 2014 by taking a fall on the ice at the hotel where I was a night manager and sustaining a severe concussion. I had started anti-depressants when my mother was dying. For many years I had struggled with depression and not known it or acknowledged it. With everything that happened in that year, my brain was pretty screwed up. I tried varying medications but I’ve never been 100% again. I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and PTSD (I had discovered my daughter’s body).
PTSD is not fun. I didn’t even know that was what I was experiencing at first when it happened. I would be lying in bed, convinced there was someone in the room standing over me, and it was a malevolent presence. I thought my daughter or my mother was angry with me and was haunting me. (I do believe in “ghosts” but that’s for another time.) I’d be laying in bed, paralyzed with fear until something snapped. Sometimes I’d wake up screaming. There was one time I remember laying in bed, sort of half-asleep, convinced there was someone in the room with us and I woke up screaming for someone to “Get the gun!”. Fortunately, our guns are always securely locked up and unloaded and we were in a hotel room at the time.
In 2017 I got tired of how I felt on all of the medication and quit them. Bad idea. The anti-depressants were added back but not as strong, but I did manage to stop taking the PTSD meds. All has been good until recently. The vivid dreams where I wake-up mid-dream screaming are back. Last night I was having a dream with a vivid argument with my mother and woke up mid-argument, yelling at her. Yes, I was yelling out loud and woke up the spouse.
I’ve been trying to stress from the beginning the mental toll this will take on people. Fear of the unknown is a tough thing. There are so many unknowns with this, especially fear of getting the virus and fear of a loved one getting the virus. America does not have a good social safety net and those fears are very real as well. Up here we’re in the time of year many people make money that carries them through the year, so there’s also a fear of a loss of income, loss of home, loss of vehicles, fear of hunger; just a general fear of what tomorrow brings because not getting the disease can be as big a disaster for people as getting it can be.
It’s one of the reason a lot of people want to get back to work. I watched a lot of friends dismiss this as the rich wanting the poor to get back to work so they can eat out. I’m sure that’s a part of it, but the other part is there’s no plan in place for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum to survive this. Many of those people want to get back to work. It’s not that they don’t fear the virus, but the virus is the unknown. They know they have bills that have to be paid. They know there is rent that might be deferred right now, but eventually will be due. Utilities have to be paid, car payments, food purchased, etc. The unemployment bonus runs out on July 31. My son is on that right now and without that bonus he would be collecting $69 per week for unemployment. I can guarantee oil companies up here won’t be delivering on credit this winter unless you’ve been established with them a long time. It’s hard to figure out how to heat your home and buy food on $69 per week even if you can’t be evicted or have the utilities shut off.
I am fortunate not to have those fears hanging over me, but plenty of people do. It’s a scary time for a lot of reasons, and most people are talking but not listening to other people and what’s going on. If you truly think people should not be going back to work, then you need to be out there advocating for a safety net extended for them through next winter. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would really matter as the current leaders in Washington don’t care much about the “least among us.” That’s not going to change until January 2021, at the earliest, and my feeling is the death toll from this disease is the price we are paying for allowing these past four years to happen.