Pandemic Diary: April 18th, 2020

So I snapped a selfie on my way to the nearest garbage bin at my apartment complex this morning:

I am wearing one of the cloth masks that my Mom made for me (she also knitted the scarf I am wearing in this picture). I really miss going to my Mom’s for Sunday dinner.

It has now been a full month since I started self-isolation in my apartment, having received permission from my employer, the University of Manitoba Libraries, to work from home since Monday, March 16th.

How am I doing? Well, not well. But not badly, either. I’m still slipping back and forth between a few uncomfortable emotional states: anxiety, depression, anger. I am taking Lorzepam for the anxiety, but I know that I can’t keep relying on it when my nerves are bad, because I could become dependent upon it, and my psychiatrist tells me that I could suffer rebound anxiety as a result of using it too often. So I reserve the Lorazepam for when I feel especially anxious, which has happened a few times this week.

As for my depression, I can usually judge how bad things are by how many unwashed dishes I leave on my kitchen counter. At the moment, I have a week’s worth of dirty dishes piled up on the counter. It’s a sign that I am not doing so well, when I start to put off chores like that. So I need to pull my socks up.

I know that I am not the only person who is struggling. This week I read an article from SELF magazine, titled 17 Totally Normal Things to Feel Right Now, According to Therapists, and I could relate to a whole lot of them. Here’s the list, along with some quotes from that article:

  • I feel burned out. “Think about it: Every aspect of adjusting to a “new normal” demands energy from you, whether that’s the bandwidth you’re expending keeping up on the news or the weird learning curve of doing your job remotely. Meanwhile, so many of the ways we typically recharge are off the table right now: seeing friends, hitting up happy hour, going to the gym, or whatever self-care activity of yours that the pandemic has derailed. ‘There are so many more things draining us than things fortifying us right now…That’s a recipe for burnout right there.’”
  • I feel angry. “You probably don’t need me to tell you that there are a lot of things to be angry about right now, whether you’re frustrated at people who aren’t taking this seriously enough or have a lot of feelings about how the pandemic is being handled on a structural level.”
  • I am spiraling about what might happen: “The uncertainty of the pandemic—and the long-term impact it will have on both a personal level and a larger scale—is one of the most common themes the therapists I talked to have come across in their work. That should come as no surprise to anyone going through a ton of anxiety right now; there is just so much we can’t predict…’Anxiety rises due to the fear of the unknown, and right now, many things are not known…I have been hearing people worrying about running out of food or supplies. People are afraid that they will lose their homes or cars due to being out of work.’ The list goes on. The important part to remember is that most people are grappling with uncertainty right now, and it’s normal to feel terrified.”
  • I am struggling with working from home. “Transitioning from a typical work setup to working from home has caused a lot of stress, angst, and frustration for a ton of people.”
  • I am mourning canceled events. I miss my monthly arts and entertainment group meeting (although we are scheduling a Zoom meetup on Sunday). I miss the older gay men’s dining out group. I miss being at work and being around my coworkers and the students and faculty at my university.
  • I want a hug. As someone who is self-isolating alone in my apartment, I can’t even remember the last time someone touched me.
  • I feel guilty about my relative safety, security, and privilege. I was much more physically and logistically prepared for this pandemic than most people I know. I have a couple of months of food on hand, and 3 months’ worth of all my prescription medications. I don’t need to leave my home for anything except absolutely essential trips or emergencies. But I do feel guilty that other people, who wouldn’t, couldn’t, or didn’t prepare, are struggling, perhaps even suffering. Hell, there are people on this planet who are facing this pandemic without access to clean, running water.
  • I am grieving. “While it’s true some people undoubtedly are dealing with the loss of loved ones to COVID-19, therapists are noticing grief in other ways too. Most people are grappling with some kind of loss…whether that’s the loss of a job, your freedom, your feeling of safety, or your vision of how your life should be going. All of that can trigger a deep sense of grief, though many people don’t recognize it for what it is.”
  • I am feeling inadequate about my productivity. “‘One issue that I’m seeing is people feeling guilt about not being productive enough while at home in isolation..From day one after lockdown orders, many clients felt that they were wasting time and failing miserably at the transition to working from home. There is also pressure to learn languages, take courses, master finances, and do all the things. Productivity porn is very loud right now.’ That noise can be difficult to drown out, so don’t feel bad if this is something you’re struggling with. ‘We live in a nation in which many of us are accustomed to engaging in activities centered around thriving…Unfortunately, much of that focus must be shifted to surviving right now. Be kind to yourself as we shift and refuse to be guilty for not being productive.’
  • And sometimes, I just feel numb. “With everything going on, it might alarm you to wake up one day and realize you feel…nothing at all. That’s to be expected too. Even in the most chaotic of times, it’s impossible to be on emotional high alert 24/7. ‘I think of it in terms of adrenaline…You can only have adrenaline coursing through your veins for so long until the body has to reset and simmer down.’ Same goes for emotions, especially the longer this goes on.”

On top of everything else, I feel exhausted, and I have been struggling with insomnia. Once again, a night of restless sleep detached and inactivated one of my expensive LibreLink blood sugar sensors, so I have had to replace it before it was due to expire in 14 days. This is the second time this has happened since I started using this system, and it is frustrating.

Even just writing this blogpost seems to have brought me down, by making me realize just how much I am trying to cope with. Small wonder I am struggling. It would be overwhelming to anybody.

So I am just going to keep on keeping on, using this blog as my pandemic diary. I know that I have supports in place (anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication, talk therapy, my social network) to keep me safe, grounded, and sane. We don’t know how long this public health emergency will take to pass. We don’t know when the restrictions that have been placed on all our lives will start to be lifted.

But we do know that this will not be forever. I have to hold on tight to that belief, putting my faith in all the doctors and scientists who are working to create a vaccine to end this nightmare.

Stay safe, and stay healthy!

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Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Essenz Shoes

Those of us who pursue retail therapy to chase away the blues are a sad bunch in this perilous pandemic season. In much of the world, retail shopping has been deemed a non-essential service, and therefore, real-world shoe stores around the globe have closed their doors, for who knows how long. It’s depressing.

So why not indulge in some shoe shopping in Second Life? I can assure you, the dopamine rush that hits your brain from landing that perfect pair of shoes is the same, whether it is in real life or Second Life! Trust Auntie Ryan on this, my dear 😉

Remember that one of Ryan’s eight rules for freebie hunting is to watch for free group join periods. Once or twice a year, many store groups will promote themselves by letting you join their store group for free (usually just before Advent calendar season). In fact, it was just before Advent that I joined the Essenz shoe store group for free 2 years ago, and what a bargain that has turned out to be! I have gotten oodles of well-crafted shoes in the two years since I joined the Essenz group!

In addition to an Advent calendar every December with a lovely gift of women’s footwear each day, Essenz also has a free group gift available on the front counter of their store, a new and different group gift each month. And April’s group gift is so wonderful, that even if you have to pay the L$350 to join the Essenz group, it’s totally worth it!

Let Auntie Ryan explain… 🙂

The April group gift from Essenz is the Wales fatpack of pumps:

Now, you might think that L$350 for a single fatpack of pumps isn’t that great a bargain; after all, you can probably find a better deal on pumps elsewhere on the grid. (KC Couture sells fatpacks of pumps for L$75, for example.)

But these Wales pumps (which come with a HUD with 26 different colours for the shoe and four different colours each for the sole and the metal trim) actually come in four different styles!

There are the regular pumps with a thin heel:

Regular pumps with a thick, chunky heel:

Platform pumps with a thin heel:

And platform pumps with a thick heel!

That means that you get 26 shoe colours times 4 sole colours times 4 metal colours times 4 shoe styles, which works out to 1,664 different shoes! So even if you aren’t already a member of the Essenz group and getting this fatpack of versatile pumps for free, the L$350 group join fee works out to L$0.20 per shoe! Now, if that’s not a deal, I don’t know what is!

By the way, the Wales pumps come in sizes to fit Maitreya, Belleza and Legacy feet. The Altamura avatar I used in these pictures had Slink-compatible feet, and I found that the Belleza shoes fit them well.

But wait…there’s more!

Every month, Essenz gives out a free promo code in their group. Check the group notices for that code, and use that promo code to save L$175 on any purchase in their store! Just right click on the item you wish to purchase, select Menu from the pie menu that pops up, then on the blue pop-up menu that appears in the upper right-hand corner of your SL viewer, click the Buy button. On the next menu that appears, click on the Promo Code button, then enter that month’s special code in the box provided. The L$175 will be deducted from the price you pay! How great is that?

Happy shopping!