Coping with the pandemic has its highs and lows

Grand daughters in costumes
Costumes inspired by a book we read together on FaceTime — Jillian Jiggs.

There are moments when I’m coping with the pandemic just fine.

~The highlight of nearly every day is FaceTime with my granddaughters. We’ve been doing it since March, the beginning of this awful pandemic. I am past being astonished at the depth of some of the conversations I’ve had with a four-year-old or the joy I experience when I’m reading them a story or simply watching them play. Like so many other parents, my daughter and son-in-law have had to juggle working from home and caring for two lively toddlers. Seeing how well they have been able to identify and address issues together as a team not only makes me feel proud, it also teaches me lessons about acceptance, problem-solving, and mutual respect.

Flowers and basil
Flowers and basil from Little River Flower Farm

~Once a week my husband and I drive to a local farm to pick up some freshly picked veggies and a bouquet of beautiful flowers. Some couples are struggling during COVID, some are thriving, and others, including us, are working on their relationships, developing new and healthier ways of communicating. Always room for improvement even after 30+ years.

~Every other Sunday evening, I get together with my brothers and sisters on Zoom. Sometimes, all eight of us are there. On our last call, we were six, plus cameo appearances by a sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, at least three cats and a dog. We talked for three hours! Shared old pictures, old stories, and lots and lots of love.

~I also feel lots and lots of love when I get to spend time with my younger daughter. On beautiful summer days, we have been able to sit outside together — six-feet-apart — and have wonderful conversations. The other night I was shocked when I got a call from my husband wondering when I’d be home for supper. I had no idea so many hours had passed. I’d been in a zone of love and happiness.

~The Catching Health blog and podcast keep me busy and focused — give me purpose. I especially love the opportunity to share people’s stories.

~Painting in my studio carries me into a worry-free zone. I start an art history class at the end of the month. Just two more classes after that and I will have a Bachelor’s degree in Art from USM. Only took me seven years.

~Daily meditation and a weekly online mindfulness group keep me sane.

~Online yoga helps keep me in shape. Lots of studios now have online classes. Mine is offered by Jade Integrated Health. I also try to walk on the treadmill every morning — first thing or it’ll never happen.

~I can’t have lunch or coffee or wine with friends like we used to, but we can still get together online. This evening, my friend Roxanne and I plan to enjoy a happy hour or two together. Got a fresh lime for my Margarita and fixings for nachos. ¡Olé!

But there are also days I’m not fine, at all. When I wake up with a feeling of panic — as if something is pressing down on my chest. I have to force myself to take a deep breath.

~There are nights when I cannot sleep. The other night was one of them. Awake at 2:30. 3:30. 4:30. Brain racing with unwelcome thoughts. When that happens, I read or go outside and search for shooting stars and comets.

A downpour
A downpour

~And there are some moments when I feel quite maudlin and others when I’m downright disagreeable. Look out!

~I confess that I spent most of yesterday afternoon under the quilts. Ate popcorn. Watched a good movie on Netflix. An Indian movie called Queen. About a girl whose fiancé dumped her two days before the wedding. She decided to still go on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam — alone. I won’t tell you anymore.

Getting a COVID test

And then there was last week when I didn’t feel well and the doctor ordered a chest x-ray, but first a COVID test. Both negative. I really didn’t expect otherwise (and I’m feeling better), but still, there was a nagging worried voice in my brain. A voice that seems to always be there these days, lurking. Just waiting to pounce.

How about you? How are you coping? We all have our stories. If you have one you’d like to share with the rest of us, let me know. Use the comment box below or send me an email.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.