Deborah Rose column: COVID makes it easy to feel blue these days
The clock ticks, ticks, ticks a monotonous, rhythmic pulse.
The room is dark but for a faint hint of light peeking through the window at the base of the shade.
I reach for my device to check the time. Squinting, I see it’s 4:15 a.m. It’s early, much earlier than I normally wake, much earlier than I want to be awake.
And I can’t fall back to sleep. Thoughts stir in my mind, spin around like a 33 on a turntable. Work, family, things to do, our country’s future. Each category of thought gives root to a half dozen more things. They repeat as if a skipping record.
Since the start of the pandemic this spring, our lives have been turned upside down. The way we work, go to school, shop, interact with one another, visit doctors and get flu shots, work out, and say goodbye to loved ones has changed.
Even sleep patterns have been disrupted.
In times of stress, our bodies are affected in many ways, triggering emotional and,or physical symptoms. Anxiety, sadness, frustration, fatigue, irritability, headaches and insomnia are just a few of the ways our body, mood and behavior respond to stress.
My sleep pattern shifted drastically in the spring. I went back and forth between insomnia and a healthy night sleep. Then there were days I slept until noon.
It’s gotten better, but I still have nights I wake up and can’t fall back to sleep, even after counting sheep.
And often, when I think I get a decent night of sleep, it doesn’t necessarily mean I wake feeling rested or happy. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. Things feel bleak.
Motivation is buried in the backyard. Smile muscles are atrophied. Desires to eat are either increased or non-existent.
And those thoughts that get tossed around in my mind in the middle of the night — work, family, things to do and our country’s future — confront me like blizzard snow and wind on my face.
Pajamas are all too comfortable under blankets. But eventually, I have to slip my feet out from under the covers and find the floor, the floor that is overdue for a vacuum, because there are things to be done — responsibilities for my job and on the home front.
But I don’t have it all together, at least not every day. Some days are better than others.
Early on in the pandemic, I, like so many others, went into a type of paralysis. It was based in fear. We had never experienced a new virus such as this, one that spread so easily across the globe.
The fear is a little less now. We have learned to navigate the virus through mitigation efforts such as mask wearing and social distancing. But that doesn’t mean life is back to the “normal” we once knew. Things are still a long way off from that.
We are living in extraordinarily unusual and unprecedented times. On top of the pandemic, we are living in a country more divided than ever in modern history and its democracy is being challenged.
Either one of these issues alone are enough to trigger a stress response. Put them together in a pot with everyday life stressors and, well, that’s just a bubbling mess.
So, it’s easy to be blue, to not want to get out of bed, to wake in the middle of the night and have a zillion thoughts running through a mind.
Despite all this, we must be sure to take care of ourselves — physically, mentally and spiritually. We have to seek balance and healthy ways to manage and reduce how we respond to life as we know it now.
Like it or not, sleep is one of the ways I cope. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about getting an extra hour sleep this weekend when we set our clocks back Sunday.
Hopefully, I won’t wake to the tick, tick, tick monotonous pulse of the clock and get stuck counting sheep.
Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.