Today I took my 13 year-old daughter with me to the dollar store. I’ve seen on local online communities people chastising parents for taking their children with them to stores during this pandemic.
I’m really afraid of people judging me and I understand the risk, but really they don’t understand my situation. My daughter needs to get out of the house. And I don’t just mean to the park. She needs a specific purpose, a mission, to going out and having a specific item(s) to obtain. For her mental health.
I have noticed that without this my daughter rapidly deteriorates and I’ve recently noticed moments where she’ll get wild look in her eyes and has started spending most of her days in her room in the dark. I knew I needed to take her with me today.
We don’t typically celebrate Easter in our house but my daughter picked out plastic eggs and candy and my children have hidden eggs around the house for the other to find. Because of our outing she seems happy and well. And thanks to her thinking she is engaging her 11 year-old brother in something other than video games. He’s having a good time as well.
Back in October and November, before we were able to get my daughter on psychiatric medicine for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, ADHD and Dsythymia she was frantically pacing around, couldn’t be in public without a breakdown (literally dropping to her knees wherever she was cried frantically), hourly said she felt safe nowhere, and literally begged me to save her and get her help. She was unable to go to school and we almost had to hospitalize her. So I am now hyper vigilant in providing things that she needs so that she hopefully doesn’t get into that state again.
On top of that, it helps me psychologically to have a helper when I’m out. If I’m not doing well myself and someone is with me in the stores it helps me from feeling dizzy and disoriented from anxiety. Recently this has been the case, as it’s extremely hard for me to go to a store by myself. My daughter helps me focus on the specifics for what we need so we can get in and out quickly.
I don’t think most realize the mental toll of months of fear of illness and social isolation. It’s hard on the average person without mental illness, especially the extroverted types, but before this is done it will end up indirectly killing thousands more individuals who take their own lives during this time, due to a worsening their mental illness. And come to think of it, also the millions of people who no longer have jobs that may even now be living in extreme anxiety about being able to pay their bills, have a roof over their heads and food to eat.
I am hearing in my country (the US) how many people get the flu and die each year. And conspiratorial wonderings on why are we making such a big deal about Covid-19, especially as it infringes on American’s rights to assemble and buy goods and services.
According to the CDC somewhere between 29,000 and 59,000 individuals died from the flu this year. That’s no joke. We had a scare from the flu season a few weeks ago when my daughter was in the hospital for a flu-related illness. The hospital physicians told us that the flu this year had been especially difficult in terms of flu-related hospitalizations. Also, my daugther’s primary care physician said that this flu season (2019/2020) has been more difficult on children than on past years. The flu is deadly.
It’s true, so far there have been way less Covid-19 cases than seasonal flu cases. Click here to see comparison of the flu with Covid-19.
However, Covid-19 is far more transmissible, with higher death rates percentage-wise. From the World Health Organization website (who.int):
The speed of transmission is an important point of difference between the two viruses. The serial interval for COVID-19 virus is estimated to be 5-6 days, while for influenza virus, the serial interval is 3 days. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID19.
Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza. While the true mortality of COVID-19 will take some time to fully understand, the data we have so far indicate that the crude mortality ratio (the number of reported deaths divided by the reported cases) is between 3-4%, the infection mortality rate (the number of reported deaths divided by the number of infections) will be lower. For seasonal influenza, mortality is usually
well below 0.1%. However, mortality is to a large extent determined by access to and quality of health care.
What grieves me is how each year at minimum 12,000 people in the US die of the flu, and this is despite having a flu vaccine. I wouldn’t have known this unless others had started comparing Covid-19 with the flu and I was forced to look into it.
The fact that we don’t take more action to prevent flu-related deaths is astonishing. I don’t know what the solution is but we are failing if that many people are dying each year from the flu. What is even more horrific is those comparing Covid-19 to the flu, saying this whole thing is blown out of proportion. It’s as if they are saying, So what? to more people dying.
It is maddening to see people look at the number of cases and deaths and say, No Big Deal. I don’t know how they can not see the direct relationship between social distancing and flattening of the curve. Is it that they don’t believe than 2 million Americans could have died had we not done anything, or is it that they don’t care?
Every day that goes by I wonder myself if maybe we are making too big of a deal out of this. I think this is because no one has experienced a deadly global pandemic it can be easier to downplay it than face the horror of it. I’m admitting this to myself as well as you.
And I look at the facts and realize my government is responsible for this line of thinking because by not taking action sooner thousands (millions?) of Americans think Covid-19 is no worse than the flu. That’s dangerous, because it’s SO infectious millions of people could die if we don’t take it seriously.
We may be peaking (hopefully) and the amount of cases may go down over the next few weeks. That is, if we keep this up.
I have to remind myself every day that there will be at least some sense of normalcy eventually. Even if it’s several months from now and things are dicey for the next year or so until they can make and distribute vaccines.
I’ll know things are back to normal when my kids are able to return to school, when my daughter can go on her long-planned D.C. trip, when I can visit my parents in New Hampshire, when my kids can stay at their in-laws for a couple weeks, and when employers start hiring again.
Despite not wanting to, I have to try to take care of myself. I can’t let this thing destroy my mental health. And you can’t either.
I had zero desire to leave the house today and I felt a knot in my stomach as I woke up. What got me out of bed is I noticed I was really sweaty and I smelled really ripe. I couldn’t remember the last time I showered and I felt icky. So I got up and took a shower. Scrubbing the filth off of me and putting on clean clothes helped. So did thoroughly brushing my teeth.
I looked forward to coffee and so I made myself a cup. The aroma, warmth, and taste gave me some pleasure and gave me a little bit of a sense that things would be ok. My daughter came into my room, excited that I’d be taking her to the dollar store. I wanted to do what I often do: tell her, we’ll do it later. But I realized I’d come up with an excuse later so after she got presentable (she’s also been lax on hygiene) we left the house.
And it went okay. It was fine. It wasn’t as scary as my body and my brain was making it out to be. We took social distancing precautions and now I’m home and I feel okay. At least more okay than if I hadn’t gone out. And it’s a little something that I can be proud of myself for.
Thanks for reading, friends. I know this one was a bit all over the place 🙂