No End in Sight: Living With COVID Malaise
“With a snowstorm, everything stops, but you know it will be a day, two, maybe 3. There is a certain amount of time,” says Philip R. Muskin, MD, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. “It has no timetable. You can’t rate anything because we don’t have reliable information. The information we have is always tempered by politics. Who do you think?
Staying at home indefinitely leads to behavior that can make your discomfort worse. How many Zoom calls have you made without dressing completely? “For many of us, every day feels like every other day, even though we are working,” says Muskin. “We joke about being in our underwear, but it’s different from the way most of us work. No tie, no suit, no dress – the homogeneity of the days contributes to the feeling that this will never end.
This was the case for Marvin Doctor of Corona, NY. “At first, I wasn’t doing very well,” he says. “Working from home, I could get away with not doing certain things, and that led to me having a depressive episode.”
He found himself sleeping more and leaving non-urgent projects unfinished. When he developed symptoms that could be COVID, his mood dropped further. “The paranoia of being sick helped somewhat. I was tested and I was negative, but the feeling of being an outcast was horrible, ”says the doctor. Once the art gallery where he works began to reopen, his outlook improved.
Isolation can also tarnish your mood. “We’re missing something called the amplification effect, the idea that when we’re around other humans, our emotions intensify, both positively and negatively,” says Marisa G. Franco, PhD, psychologist and expert in friendship. “When we’re not with people the same way, we don’t get this amplification of our emotions. We are constantly in a state of blah.
For others, the financial effects of the closure were significant. Sofia Moncayo from Sunnyside, NY, owns a martial arts studio with her husband. They were forced to close for 6 months.
“The first few weeks I was a little numb, I was trying to adjust, I was waiting for it to be over,” she says. “It was scary and stressful, and you just wanted everyone to be safe. And then it was like, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do? How are we going to get by? How are we going to make ends meet? It was a really difficult time.
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