With all the craziness in the world lately, I really struggled with what to write about this week.
It seemed wrong to share beautiful photos of the world and encourage travel when my friends are fleeing to their homes. Or to post about delicious meals in your neighbourhood when people are stockpiling canned beans.
How can a travel blogger post about travel when we’re being advised to self-quarantine?
Corona Virus and Anxiety
I’ve been struggling with the virus.
Not because of my blog. And, thankfully, not due to being high risk.
Because I’m angry and anxious and unsure.
We don’t know what’s going to happen 24 hours from now, much less in weeks and months. Even though I’m not expecting the apocalypse or the purge, I’m struggling with the ambiguity.
My anxiety means that I thrive on routine. Sure, it’s a pocket-sized, travel-friendly routine, but it’s still a routine.
It’s semi-flexible, but 90% of it requires leaving my house. Which I may not be able to do soon.
And that’s terrifying.
Some people might love the idea of lounging around watching TV or reading for hours. But I’m not one of them.
I HAVE to go outside. I’m a solar powered person – I even use my SAD lamp on sunny days. My body thrives on long walks to the grocery store, breathing in all the trees and flowers I’m allergic to, and feeling earth squelch beneath my boots as mud sprays up the backs of my legs.
Only then can I enjoy binge-watching Hunters on Amazon Prime or devouring I’ll Be Gone in the Dark with windows bolted shut.
Corona Virus and Therapy
I told my therapist that I’m scared. But as I spoke, I realized it’s not the fear that really bothers me.
It’s the anger.
I’m angry at the Corona Virus.
That may be a weird thing to say. I mean, everyone sort of hates this thing. We all feel a bit of malice towards it.
But I’ve projected my rage onto this thing like it’s actively working to ruin my life.
In a way it is – while it ruins everyone else’s.
I’m not Corona Virus’ only nemesis. But I’m one of them.
My therapist recommended I write down my feelings, to help express my anger. “Get it down on the page so it’s out of your head,” she said. Put it into the world so it won’t choke me with its fiery tendrils until my skull is throbbing and I’m clawing for breath. So it won’t burn in my gut like its searing through my organs, filtering into my blood.
Write to express my rage.
Corona Virus and Anger
The Corona Virus has taken a lot from me in a few short weeks.
(Luckily, no loved ones. It could be much worse, really.)
It’s cancelled my mom’s work trip to London. A trip that would have let me introduce her to my new hometown of Oxford.
It shut down 2 book fairs that were part of my degree and would have let me meet publishers to make connections.
It prevented industry professionals from attending guest lectures in my classes. I lost the opportunity to learn exciting new things from experts who would have enriched my understanding of the publishing industry.
It’s forced my dad to cancel his visit to see me over the Easter holidays. He can’t risk getting stuck out of the country when he owns a small business, and he is a medium risk for the virus. The trip would have been his first time in the UK in years, and the first time he would have visited me abroad.
It has fundamentally changed my degree. Teachers and students are in limbo. We live in constant confusion and fear about what might happen next. Universities around the country – around the world – are closing or shifting to online learning. Ours keeps telling us to wait.
It’s sent my friends around the globe, searching for safety in their parents’ arms. We don’t know if or when they’ll be allowed to return. I may not get to see them again with many already having planned to move back in the summer.
It’s made me go to four grocery stores to find a single carton of eggs. The panic buying and my anxious need to cook or bake have become direct opponents. The comfort I find wandering grocery stores has been replaced by trepidation. Empty shelves feel foreboding, like the end days are coming and I just haven’t realized it yet. Then I need two dozen eggs for the amount of stress-release sourdough and comforting chocolate babka I am compelled to bake.
It has stolen so many conversations. Everything revolves around the Corona Virus now. The school library is sound tracked by whispered rumours of the virus and misquoted facts from Instagram. My girls day with friends was quickly highjacked by the virus. Fear, facts, and fiction mingle on everyone’s tongues.
It’s taken away my favourite hobby: travel. My social circle of travel bloggers and travel lovers has vanished, replaced by scared individuals with polarizing opinions. We don’t know where to go – literally and metaphorically. It’s taken travel away from our readers, our families and our friends. The Corona Virus has taken revenue from freelancers in our field. It’s threatened all our plans, and taken the enjoyment from revelling in destinations. Day dreams of warm beaches have been replaced by futile hope for toilet paper at the grocery store.
It has brought anxiety bubbling to the surface of my daily life. My fingers tremble and my leg bounces as I study. The lack of certainty, the near constant discussions, the jumble of facts, the panic buying, the restrictions – they make my heart race and my mind whir as I search for something to ground me.
It has brought out a side of me I don’t like. The nervous, overly cautious person who plans too much and can’t get her mind to quiet. The person with emotions bubbling to the surface quickly, intensely – to the point that I’m afraid to speak. I fear conversations for their inevitable turn to the virus. I seek comfort but can’t find stillness.
It’s made me furious.
Corona Virus and Control
I hate being angry.
Which is another reason that I’m mad at the Corona Virus.
But then I get angry that I’m mad. And mad that I’m angry. And so on, and so on, until I’m so exhausted by the rage that I just don’t feel.
I feel out of control.
My routine has changed. I’ve had to reconsider future plans. Things I was so excited for have been cancelled. Positives I cling to have started to slip away.
And it’s all the virus’ fault.
Corona Virus and Community
I’m not sure writing any of this actually helped me release my anger.
I can still feel the tension in my jaw, the ache of my molars from grinding them as I type.
But maybe it’ll help some of you who feel the same way. Know that you’re not alone.
We’re allowed to be upset. To be angry or scared or worried or any other feeling that this virus has brought up in you.
But until then we’ll just have to try our best to be ok.
Corona Virus and Advice
I won’t give out any recommendations for handling the virus or staying safe. I’m not a professional. It would be irresponsible of me to give advice when I honestly have no idea of the medical consequences.
If you want to know more, do some research. Nurses, governments and hospitals across the internet and social media are sharing tons of information. There are podcasts are the disease and its development.
Want to know how you can help? Look online for resources.
But through it all try to find some positives. Connect with friends and family using technology. Bake too much if you need to. Or curl up with a good book and pretend you live in some better place, like Narnia (you know, once there wasn’t a witch making everything cold and awful).
My “Fucking Hooray!”
My therapist told me to write about how the Corona Virus made me angry.
Since I hate being angry (and have been listening to far too much My Favorite Murder to be healthy), I’ve decided to end on some positives.
Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff once recommended a similar practise to try and do more good things with their day. They later started ending their podcast with a “Fucking Hooray!” to brighten the mood after all the murders.
So in their honour, I’m going to end this angry letter to the Corona Virus on 3 positives from my week:
- I’ve learned to make sourdough. I’m not great at it yet and often miss steps (who has four hours fold bread??), but it’s a hobby that makes me happy. And in the end I get bread!
- I finished my first publishing internship with the Impress Prize for New Writers. I’m both excited that I had the opportunity (because my boss gave me a lot of freedom and let me be creative with the brand) and excited that it’s over (since I have a whole new round of assignments coming that I could use the extra day to work on).
- I’ve been taking better care of myself physically. I got a haircut that I’ve been putting off for months, treated myself to a new headband and a LUSH face mask, have limited the hours that I do schoolwork, and spent an awesome girls day out with some friends in Oxford on Friday. They’re little things that add up to a happier me and a real smile that made my eyes crinkle for the first time in days.
Hunt for Positives
Thinking of three things was hard – because I had a lot of small positives that made me smile but didn’t seem big enough, and because time is moving in such a Jeremy Bearimy (*The Good Place reference for those who don’t know) that I have no conception of when last week even was.
But wading through my week reminded me of the bright spots in this hazy time.
I’m trying to make this a new practise before bed: every night write three positives from your day. They can be things from your life, something you saw that day, or a moment that made you just feel a touch lighter.
When I told my therapist of my plan, she nodded and gave me a half smile. “It’ll help you rewire your brain to the positives.”
That’s what I really need right now: to be able to see the positives.
Maybe then I’ll be able to let go of some of this anger at the Corona Virus.
Stay safe and be kind during this pandemic.