Monday, March 30, 2020

Let's Address It - COVID-19, Social Distancing, and Everything That Comes With It

Well...The world has definitely changed quite a bit since my last post, huh? I've had a couple of contributors ready with posts but it didn't feel right publishing those without first addressing the craziness that has become our reality. If anyone feels like you're in the middle of some fourth of July weekend blockbuster, you're not alone. It's all a lot of changes that happened very quickly.

For us Floridians, the moment it got real was when Disney World announced that they were closing.  Yes, we had heard of the outbreaks in China and Italy. We were aware that the virus was starting to spread here in the US...But DISNEY CLOSED?! That's when I think we all had a collective "Wait...what?!" moment.

I've been staying home since the theme parks closed. The recommended home sanitization process and germ avoidance methods are actually very, very close to my normal every day (except for worrying about the sanitation of packages/take-out boxes) since my son has had a compromised immune system in the past. So sanitizing everything and washing my hands a million times every day - THAT part isn't as stressful for me. But I understand that implementing all of these extra cleaning processes does trigger anxiety in a lot of people.

The part that is stressful for me? Being away from other people. My son is an only child. School and playdates are how he socializes with his peers. I'm someone that NEEDS to be around other people and NEEDS that social interaction. Luckily, the internet, phone calls, video chat, social media, etc. all help a little bit. But it's not the same.

I understand how important it is for our physical health that everyone tries to slow down the spread by social distancing and practicing good hygiene(for goodness sake, you shouldn't have to be told to wash your hands). I know that this is something we all need to make our best effort to do. So I've been staying home since before we were ordered to do so.

But I think it's important to address that sometimes someone leaving their home to see a friend or family member is not a matter of selfishness. Sometimes this is a matter of mental health. And it's also important to remember that mental health is JUST as important as physical health.

If you're someone whose mental health isn't affected by isolating or only seeing those within your household, I understand why it could be upsetting to see others leaving their home while you're staying in. But please take a minute to realize that just because you don't feel it, experience it, or understand it, doesn't make it any less real. Because it's not part of your reality doesn't mean it's not a reality at all.  If you aren't able to empathize, then a little sympathy and compassion can go a long way.

To be clear, I'm not saying that what those going on vacation and partying for Spring Break are doing is ok. There is something in between complete isolation and partying with large groups of people. There is more than the two extremes. There are those who fall somewhere in the middle.

I don't know what the solution is. But it can't be continuing to yell at each other. To fight over who's right and who's wrong. It can't be to turn this into yet another instance where there are two sides just ripping each other apart. I think that living in this tension that has been the climate of our world (not only currently, but for several years)  has caused us to forget that there is a middle where we can meet. And that working together, instead of wasting time and energy tearing each other down, is a lot more effective in achieving what we all want - our normal back. Or at least some semblance of the normal we once knew.

So what can we do? We can be better to each other. Check up on each other.  Mamas homeschooling for the first time, accept help from the moms who have been homeschooling all along. Those having a hard time being alone, tell your friends/family what's going on.  Reach out. What you're feeling is valid and you deserve to be heard. For those understandably terrified of this virus, prepare and control what you can and let go of what you can't.  For the special needs families struggling with these changes and loss of resources, hang in there, reach out to your community. Band together. (This Facebook group is filled with parents, teachers, and an amazing community of people who will give advice, provide information, and also provide support when you need to vent. )

What can we do? We can lean on each other. Even if it is at a distance.

Side note: Please stop blaming Millennials for the actions of those under 25. That's not us. It's Gen Z that you want :oP