I'm Tired Of Feeling Like We're The Only Ones Still Isolating

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 
Portrait woman in protective mask standing at apartment window
Malte Mueller/Getty

We are all tired of hearing about COVID, quarantine, masks, and distancing. The coronavirus pandemic has taken over our social media feeds, our jobs, our kids’ schooling, and even how we shop and socialize. There’s no doubt that we’re all mentally exhausted.

I know I’m supposed to say we “get” to stay home, but the reality is that it feels like we “have” to stay home. I am thankful that we have a safe, comfortable home with plenty for the kids to do, including a huge yard. I am glad I already work from home and my husband’s company has asked him to the same. However, with school decisions looming over us and climbing case numbers in our area, I’m begging the question: Are we the only ones still isolating?

My social media feed is full of families on vacations, looking like they don’t have a care in the world. They’re posing by waterfalls, lounging on beaches, and standing in lines at theme parks. I can’t tell if I’m jealous, appalled, or both.

I’m also seeing concert announcements (Vanilla Ice, anyone?), churches opening their doors, and pool parties to celebrate a kid’s fifth birthday or grandma and grandpa’s forty-seventh wedding anniversary. I get it. I miss our families so much. I miss hosting friends at the pool. I haven’t had a girlfriend coffee date since March or a haircut since…well, I can’t remember when.

I don’t live for statistics. I don’t track case numbers or obsess over the latest headlines. My anxiety can’t take it. Instead, we just do what we’ve done since mid-March. We get up, eat breakfast, work and play, eat lunch, work and play more, have dinner, and then chill out before bed. I wake up every morning oblivious to the day of the week or month until I check my phone.

I know enough to realize that the cases in our area are rising ever since restrictions have eased up. Hospital beds are being filled, and people I know are posting they’ve been exposed and tested. I know not every illness, or even most, results in hospitalization. Yet, I’m also disheartened every time we run an errand (which is not often at all these days) to see people ripping off their masks while shopping and strutting around like they don’t have a care in the world.

The ableism blows my mind. I’ve read and seen so many people say that they are perfectly healthy and aren’t scared of a virus. They say the flu is worse and masks are an infringement of their civil rights. They claim the media is blowing this out of proportion. Those who are the most vulnerable, they say, are those who have underlying, preexisting health conditions. That’s only some, not all people. So why mask up, distance, and refrain from gathering in a crowd?

I’m one of those people with a preexisting condition. In fact, I have two. Many of us live with invisible illnesses, diseases that don’t stand out to the naked eye. We don’t “look sick” but we are. We fight health battles every day. The selfishness I see many display is appalling, maddening, and disappointing.

I know I’m not alone. Ask any person, and they can list to you a handful (or more) of family and friends who live with diseases that make them more vulnerable to the virus. Do they not matter? Do their families not matter? I guess not, given what I’m observing.

What about our healthcare workers who are busting their butts to test those who may have the virus or are treating the sick? Where is our respect for their efforts, their time, their talent, and their own health, as well as the health of their own families?

I understand that the information regarding the virus and precautions, such as masks and distancing, is conflicting. Every day, there’s a new study, report, or finding that causes us collective and further confusion over what to do. I also understand that we all can’t live in our separate homes indefinitely. Some people are essential workers, and some jobs cannot be done from home. Many parents rely on their children to attend in-person school so the parents can keep their jobs.

However, the extras are optional. Why are people insisting on worshipping in-person at church, attending their cousin’s wedding (why is the cousin even still having a wedding?), or hitting up the beach before summer is over? These aren’t essentials. These are privileged extras. I’m seeing moms post that there’s “no way” that their child will not be having a birthday party this September. Okay, Karen.

I’m frustrated and tired. I don’t know how to encourage people who insist that the virus is fake (or, at minimum, not that serious) to care about others, to stop acting on their own selfish interests. Others say that we will be okay, because there’s a vaccine just around the corner. This excuse to party on doesn’t fly with me. I want all of us to be healthy and safe, and most of all, to take the lives and deaths of others seriously. What if that person was their grandmother, their father, or their college student?

I don’t spend my days trying to convert anyone, but I admit that when I see the free-for-all pictures, I feel like the poster is throwing their wellness in my face. It’s exhausting to carry the weight of the pandemic on my shoulders while so many live their best summer lives.

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