they’re writing about me

There was a recent article about increasing depression and suicidal thoughts related to the coronavirus pandemic. The article suggested ways to spot people who are suffering from depression, loneliness, and mental fatigue by asking the following questions:

  • Are they getting up and taking a shower?
  • Are they brushing their teeth?
  • Are they changing their clothes?
  • Are they keeping their place clean?
  • Is their refrigerator filled with food or is it not?
  • Are they ignoring phone calls and text messages?
  • Are they not posting on social media as frequently as they used to?
  • Are they declining invitations to virtual holiday celebrations?

The article goes on to say these are people who might need help coping, and that you can show compassion and understanding by talking to people who are depressed and may be having suicidal thoughts.

Ummm, this sounds like me most of the time. I believe it is more from bipolar depression than being COVID-related, but anxiety over current events and the pandemic doesn’t help. I don’t have suicidal thoughts anymore, but sometimes it feels like life is too tiring to keep going. I don’t feel that way very often; usually it is more like a feeling of constant struggle to go on living.

Some days, I feel good, and it is worth the effort to keep living. I try to remember that feeling when I am at my worst.


winners and losers

At the moment we still don’t know who will be president, but it looks like Malarkey Joe will win the vote. That doesn’t mean it’s all over; who knows what kind of malignant chicanery the Trump lawyers will come up with. In addition, in Pennsylvania and Michigan there is the specter of the Republican-led state legislature deciding to reverse the election by appointing an illegitimate set of electors to the Electoral College. Because of the arcane system of choosing the president, and the lack of legislation to protect us against such trickery, this ain’t over by a long shot.

I’m a solid left liberal, but I will criticize the Biden campaign for not working hard enough to discuss the issues facing the country. He made the election about Trump, for or against, and that only served to enrage the Trump cult members. I think Biden should have spent more time talking about what legislation he would propose to help some sectors of the public: working class non-college-educated voters, Latino and Black voters, 50-somethings who will depend on Medicare and Social Security, and everyone concerned about health-care costs. 

Biden might have done better in some of those demographics had the election been about issues people care about. Instead the campaign was all about Trump, and by extension the coronavirus. Yes, the virus is the most important challenge in our generation, but concern over the virus is largely split along party lines, and we see how that plays out.

Finally, many people are hoping the Trump nightmare will end on January 20th, but I don’t believe that will happen. As long as the cult leader has a microphone called Twitter and a press agent called Fox News, he will be able to reach the cult followers from afar. Their ranks are growing and spreading hate and racism and asshole-ism through a country that is slowly becoming more liberal. Obsessed with the culture wars, they will never change their minds.

In the meantime, the rich, ultra-conservative power brokers will continue to use Trumpism as an effective means to justify their oligarchic political agenda. The lower class, the working poor, and minorities throughout the country are the real losers here.

glass half empty

I have had a sense of impending doom lately. I’m very pessimistic about several things right now: the election, my moods, my job, my daughter, and the coronavirus. I just get the feeling that things are about to get worse.

I don’t think the changing season is to blame; that doesn’t usually have much effect on me. I have had the California fires on my mind, because my old hometown was in danger, but the threat is less now.

I don’t claim to be psychic, just perceptive, and I see dark times ahead.

Or I’m just as crazy as Professor Trelawney, and I can’t see anything at all.

unwelcome houseguest

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?

No joking. We don’t know for sure, but we think Mrs. Fish is infected. She’s sick with something, and what else could it be? She doesn’t have the cough, and only a mild fever at times, but she has other symptoms that are consistent. We’ll try to get her an online doctor’s appointment tomorrow to see what they say (and they’ll say “call us again when it gets worse”).

What else would be that easy to catch for the little contact she has had with the public? She stopped working three weeks ago. She has been careful while out shopping, distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home unless necessary. I have done the same, and I have no symptoms. It’s not easy to catch a flu virus in the wild when you’re not being careful. What are the chances this is the flu, really?

I’m worried about her, but she’s in good health, so I don’t think she’s in any real danger. On the other hand, I’m real nervous about myself getting it. I’m 50, fat, and have elevated blood pressure, which put me more at risk. And I don’t like hospital food.

So Anne is isolated in our bedroom with Netflix and Animal Crossing (our daughter’s handheld game). I have been sleeping in my easy chair (don’t worry, I’ve had lots of practice). I’m doing all the cooking, and I’m running out of ideas (who says you can’t do grilled cheese every other day?).

And tomorrow, I have to tell my supervisor that I have to be restricted from coming into the office because I’ve probably been exposed. I’ve been working from home, but with occasional trips in for printing or essential paperwork. I guess someone will have to print large sets of plans for me this next week.

Update: Her doctor nurse practitioner seems to think it is something else, not COVID, but “get better soon, ok?” They will not test her, because of the lack of adequate public testing in this country. So do we assume the NP is correct, and go back to a semi-normal life, or do we continue to have her self-isolate under the assumption that she might have the COVID? Do I tell my office it was a false alarm and that I haven’t been exposed? So many unanswered questions that a test would help put to rest.

2nd update: Her symptoms seemed to go away after five days, so just to be sure she stayed in the bedroom for a few days after her symptoms went away. No one else has felt anything adverse since then. Again, due to a lack of testing, we don’t know if it was COVID or not, but it seems less likely now.

corona fools’ day

Nature has some new plague to run in our streets. – Rush, “Red Tide”

So much suffering, and we are just getting started. Nothing in my lifetime has prepared me for the level of death and economic hardship we will soon face.

I read a lot of history, stuff about wars and depression and dark times, but it is all abstract when it is in the distant past or in far-off places. The loss of life during the Boxing Day tsunami was tremendous, but even that seemed so far away from America.

This will be real, and this will be in our faces every day. We were all New Yorkers after 9/11, but the tragedy will be so much bigger this time, reaching into every city in every state.

I hope it’s not as bad as the models are predicting. But if it hits your family, you don’t give a fuck about the models anymore. You simply join the millions who will suffer and grieve this year.

the virus is coming, look busy

Sometimes historical events unfold like pages of a story that you must read carefully to comprehend. This point in world history is like ripping off the scab with the band-aid and forcing us to look mercilessly at the ugly, bloody wound.

The fish-in-laws are in the virus’ most deadly demographic, and they are quite nervous about it. They were still working, but as of Monday my wife convinced them it was not worth the risk for the small amount of money they earn. Unfortunately they have nothing to do but sit and watch the endless news cycle. My wife can’t go inside their house for fear of bringing them the virus; we are doing shopping for them and dropping the groceries at the door, and talking from an appropriately safe distance.

I think about what might happen if one of them were to get severely sick from the virus and need to go in the hospital. They would be confined to their hospital bed, alone except for medical staff, no family or friends for consolation, intubated and breathing through a ventilator, gasping for that last little bit of oxygen until the end. What a horrible thought, for both the patient and the family members who can do nothing but mourn from their homes.

I know this tragedy is playing out in Italy and Spain right now, where there is no respite for the older folks who live in fear of dying alone, and for the medical workers who have to harden themselves and deal with the toll on their own mental health much later. That tragedy is coming here in the next few weeks, whether or not people choose to believe it. If we can truly “flatten the curve” without destroying the country in doing so remains to be seen.