‘How I’ve been caring for my emotional and mental wellbeing during coronavirus’

May 18, 2020
Getting out and going for a walk has been just one of the ways Jim has managed his mental health during Covid-19 lockdown. Source: Getty Images

From the chronicles of ‘a tired mind and a conversation with a friend …’. Well, I have to tell you, it’s only been about two weeks now since I’ve actually begun to feel more in control of things. I mean, mindfully, in control.

I made the decision to get out of the apartment as much as possible in the form of a walk. I’ve been successfully doing five out of seven days now! I hope to make it seven out of seven eventually.

I finally gathered up all of my empty pop bottles, cans and glass that I’ve been keeping in plastic bags since last December and turned them into the only open bottle return depot in my area. It’s a couple of miles or so away. Of course, the one that’s a block and a half from my place is closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. I got $20 in total and that’s about three times what I normally turn in.

I decided to move all of the electronic gear that came out of my junk room from my living room to my vehicle. My problem is I can’t get in touch with anybody that might take it! All of the locations here in Surrey, British Columbia are closed (you can guess why). A major electronic depot in Abbotsford won’t answer the phone.

My dust bunnies are still multiplying faster than I’d like. I think they do it at night when I can’t see the little buggers. The three projects that I laid out to see how much dust I could collect on them, between cleanings, are now indistinguishable from everything else that’s stationary in my apartment, so now my whole place needs a good cleaning.

Damn, too bad I fired the maid just before the pandemic! However, I did clean my oven the other day. Generally speaking, although I’m doing better, I still have to say there are bouts of depression creeping in. I recognise it because of a number of factors:

  1. My fridge door seems to get more exercise than I do; consequently, I have now been doing push-ups off my balcony railing every single day – at first I only did one set of 55 per day (took a week to build up to that) but now I’m up to three times a day! When I head to the fridge because I’m bored and I’m looking for something to eat, it’s a bit of a struggle but I generally head to the balcony and bang out a quick 20 instead! Not always but most of the time. Chest and arm muscles are becoming much more pronounced.
  2. In January 2017 when I fell and broke some ribs and lacerated my spleen, I was off work for 9.5 months. That was a b***h! I had, what some people have described to me as a near-death experience. Since, I’ve become aware that my emotions have been out of control. Hell, I can cry at the drop of a hat during a f****** commercial! And with all this shite going down, the recent tragedy in the province of Nova Scotia and listening to all the musical tributes to the victims on the Nova Scotia Kitchen Party site … I was a blubbering idiot for a day and a half! (Trying to write about those emotions was just too much, so I gave up.)
  3. I’ve caught myself, uh, you know, uh … talking to myself. Out loud … The worst part is, I’m not even winning the damned argument! What the hell?!
  4. I’ve been staying up at night until 2am for so long now, I think it’s normal. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl but this is ridiculous! So, I’ve been trying to head for bed before midnight now. Not always successful but still, it’s happening, so that’s on the positive side of the ledger. However, since day one, I’ve set my alarm for 8:30am and some days I’m actually awake before it rings off!
  5. I’ve had some of the most disturbing and weird dreams I’ve ever experienced. Can’t remember most of them the next morning but I’m flippin’ exhausted from all the running, mental exercises and generally disjointed scenes I see during those dreams. Waking up in the middle of the night with a pounding heart and rapid breathing is not my idea of fun. It’s tough to understand why I’m dreaming so much without remembering them.
  6. And although I’m looking forward to being officially retired in the next few months, I’ve been semi-isolated since December due to a rear-end collision while I was waiting for a light to change. I was progressing nicely with all of the chiro/massage/physio and kinesiology appointments I had scheduled. However, that all came to an abrupt end in mid-March. Going back to work on April 1, albeit under modified duties etc., got kyboshed thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve since found out that I don’t qualify for any of the government handouts; which also includes the British Columbia Hydro grant. It’s not like my electric bill is an unbearable amount of money but still, it doesn’t help to know that if I did need the help it wouldn’t be available! Can’t seem to win for losing!

On the upside, I just finished my first virtual kinesiology workout. Six weeks since full isolation began, at least that’s coming back into play and he shows me no mercy.

My new career as a travel writer and photographer, which I’ve been preparing for over a year now, is suddenly curtailed. That’s something I have to wrap my head around in order to continue forward with that. Especially since my RV trip with some old school friends up the beautiful Cassiar Highway to Alaska and then back down the historic Alaska Highway to Prince George is now shelved for the duration.

I’m a little frustrated with it all, to say the least. Just have to wrap my head, like I said, around a pivot point for this new challenge. There are a lot of things that I once took for granted that are being hauled out from under me like a bad magician whipping a tablecloth out from under the dishes on a table … Only everything is breaking as he does it!

Between the personal aspects of dealing with the lack of income, physical illness and the state of my mental capacities, it’s a heck of a lot to handle! Couple that with all the noise on TV, radio and in the newspaper about coronavirus and sometimes I just want to turn it all off, curl up into a corner of my armchair with a big blanket, a good book and a stiff drink!

Nobody will blame me for that! We all have to revamp our concepts of what we ‘do’ versus who we ‘are’ and how we’re going to deal with this whole new environment. Everything is changing and it’s especially important that we roll with the punches. Normal isn’t going to be what it used to be.

In the meantime, meditate, go for a walk, clean one room, do a load of laundry, read a book, catch up with old friends using the technology on-hand and stay home, stay safe and remember; you’ve got this. Maybe not all at once, but you will eventually!

The tough part is figuring out the who, what, where, when and why of everything … and nobody said it was going to be easy.

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What are you doing to care for your emotional and mental wellbeing? What tips do you have for others who might be struggling?

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