The Peculiar Benefits of Staying at Home
It occurred to me today that I was sleeping a lot better since being forced into self-isolation. My moods are more even. I’m not waking up at 4 a.m. with free-flowing anxiety.
The pressure is off. Why?
I know for sure that our daily walks outdoors have helped. The crisp air, the transportation of my own feet, the very CLOSENESS of everything, have changed my outlook.
But the cause goes deeper than just being outside. It involves a revolving cycle of anger, guilt and reparation.
A year ago last winter, I was so enraged by my situation as caregiver that I began taking an anti-depressant. As the therapists say, depression is anger turned inward. I was stuffing my anger and becoming depressed. All that boiling fury had nowhere to go except inside. To friends, I would say, half-joking, that God wasn’t following my life script. My husband and I were supposed to travel, to live abroad, to do good work. Dementia changed all those plans.
Spring came, and I got busy. Until the corona virus stopped me, I turned into a frenetic organizer. I channeled the feelings of guilt about my anger into reparation. I would be the model caregiver. I packed my husband’s and my schedule with activities. That’s what he needed, right? Socialization, exercise, mental stimulation, lots of interaction with the world.
It was exhausting. For an introvert like me, all that running around was depleting my small reserves. I needed to recharge with solitude. Yes, I did enjoy the activities, but I lacked an equal amount of time to renew my energies.
Then along came COVID-19. No more gym visits. No more adult education classes. No more clay studio. No more meals out with friends. Life. Slowed. Down.
Now I don’t have to feel guilty because there’s nothing to do about the situation. I wake up early and think of all the delicious choices to make: do I write? work on a video? cut some more quilt pieces?
And my husband? He seems fairly content to watch the news, read, and do his crossword puzzles. We meet up for meditation, cooking and eating, and sewing the quilt we’re making together. And for walks.
Strange fruit in strange times.