It can always be better. It can always be worse. Keep that in mind.
Late last month, we asked you, our readers and viewers, how you’re holding up and what’s on your mind lately as the coronavirus continues with seemingly no end in sight.
The world feels like a different place these days, and we wanted to check in and see who was facing what struggles.
At last check, we had collected more than 230 responses. Nearly 60% of you told us that you were struggling, and about 26% answered “I’m kinda meh” to that “How are you?” question.
Many people seemed like they just wanted to pop in with a quick answer. Others dropped 500-1,000-word, heartfelt responses. Some wanted to talk about masks, politics or social issues. (You came in on all sides of the aisle, by the way). A lot of readers really did take advantage of the “virtual couch” -- plopping down for a few minutes to share stories involving their families, financial issues, dating and cabin fever. There were themes of loneliness and stress, but some optimism was woven in, as well.
We thought it might be therapeutic for you to read stories from others.
All of these people, it should be noted, gave us specific permission to share their words. (Remember, you can still leave a response, in that link you see above -- just to get some heaviness off your chest, or to be used in a future online news article. Up to you!)
Final note: Responses have been edited for length, clarity and grammar. People had the option to self-identify however they’d like, hence why you’ll see some first names, some cities, some ages, and others with a little less information.
Be kind out there. You never know what people are going through.
Some examples ...
1.) ‘Nothing does the soul more good than human touch'
“I am every feeling right now. I am unable to touch my mother, kiss my mother, or hold my mother. She is in a facility, and on every visit, I see she has dwindled away a little more. (A) lack of activity and isolation is killing her all while I watch from the other side of a window, unable to do anything. It’s heartbreaking and makes me so angry at the same time. I’m unsure who or what to be angry at! I just want to be able to feel my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I’m at least able to see her at all. But nothing does the soul more good than human touch.”
-- LeAnne, 54, from Jacksonville, Florida
2.) ‘We are nervous'
“My husband and I are the primary babysitters for our 3-year-old autistic grandson, who will be going back to school. We are in our 70s. His single mom must work and it is crucial he be in school with trained teachers. We are nervous.”
-- Dottie, 73, from Florida
3.) ‘We are not scared'
“I have asthma, which makes this whole respiratory virus a very real thing for me. But I’m tired of people saying that I’m ‘scared’ due to the fact that my family is still being very careful in how we approach life outside the bubble of our house. We are not ‘scared,’ but we are being considerate and trying to look out for everyone’s health, mine included. I cannot wait until we finally get to a day where we don’t have to wear masks everywhere because it is very difficult for me with my breathing. Still, I do it because I want to look out for my health and the health of others around me. I wish everyone would take the opportunity during these times to try and see things from someone else’s perspective!”
-- Anonymous, from Macomb, Michigan
4.) ‘I will be evicted soon'
“I was furloughed from my executive job in March. I am now struggling to live on the very low unemployment compensation. If no additional federal supplement money is made available, I will be evicted soon.”
-- Anne, 60, from Memphis, Tennessee
5.) ‘We hold our breath’
“At the beginning of 2020, my husband had just been reinstated to his kidney transplant list after battling cancer. Six weeks later, we received a letter stating he was once again inactivated because of COVID-19. It was crushing. Fortunately, about two months later, he was reactivated again because the transplant center moved to an enclosed environment. But we have received no joyous call, as finding a donor can take years, and in the meantime, he spends 12 hours per week in a setting for dialysis. We hold our breath.”
-- A former Michigander living in Charlotte, North Carolina
6.) ‘The story could be different'
“My husband is deployed and hasn’t seen my family in months. Now I’ve been put on bed rest for the next month due to complications in my pregnancy -- and with a toddler at home already, it’s so, so hard right now to be alone, plus, I’ve already lost three family members to this virus. ... The medical attention for pregnant military wives has been a nightmare and there’s nothing we can do. We can’t have proper care. It’s like we are just a number. I was seen at 13 weeks and then seen at 30 weeks and discovered I’m severely anemic and my daughter might have spina bifida. If they only saw us before, instead of over-the-phone appointments, the story could be different.”
-- Valeria, 29, from Florida
7.) ‘I really need a hug'
“I’m a nurse and I’ve decided to have my son stay with his dad so I don’t expose him. It’s hard and I miss him. Truly, I really need a hug.”
-- Rebecca, 40, from San Antonio, Texas
8.) ‘I’m a mortician'
“I’m a mortician and work is overwhelming right now. Most of us in the death industry accept that we have a thankless job, but we could use some recognition, too. Thank goodness for all hospital personnel -- not just doctors and nurses, but death care workers are in the fray also! And to top it off, we are having a difficult time getting the PPE and cleaning supplies we need, and my suppliers tell me hospitals are getting the priority right now. We are at risk, but no one seems to really care about that. I try to just be thankful that I have a job right now and I keep telling myself this can’t go on forever.”
-- Julie, 51, from Houston, Texas
9.) ‘I doubt I will ever return'
“As an older waitress, 62, I doubt I will ever return to a job I love. I would not risk my health.”
-- Barb, 62, from St. Cloud, Florida
10.) ‘I know my problems are miniscule'
“I know my problems are minuscule compared to problems of some, but they cause me stress. I’m a middle-aged, happily married father of three, and I’m desperately missing fun social interactions. My family and work life have (mostly) returned to ‘normal,’ but our typically busy social life has not returned. I find myself having bouts with depression missing the concerts, events and trips that have always brought us joy and have always been a large part of our life.”
-- Mark, 48, from Michigan
11.) ‘We should all learn from this third-grade assignment'
“Forget quarantine, unattended funerals, canceled family weddings, major surgery, dust storms, Altuve’s slump, 11 named storms, protests, oil prices, lay-offs, killer hornets, damaged Midwest crops, a flooded day care, a fender bender and grandchildren going back to school. What’s really upsetting me is the lack of respect we show to each other daily.
“Last spring, I was helping my third-grade grandchild with a school assignment. She was to read several argumentative paragraphs and decide if they were respectful or disrespectful -- identifying the disrespectful words. I started doing the same while engaging in conversations, reading the paper and watching the news. It’s shocking. We should all learn from this third-grade assignment. We have forgotten how to disagree respectfully. Why do we seem to be so focused on hurting those who do not share our opinion or belief? What happened to kindness?”
-- A grandmother from Humble, Texas
12.) ‘Stuck selling my things online'
“I’d been with the same company for six years and have obtained multiple accolades and ‘attaboys.’ I even earned a top 1% results (honor) in Florida and was sent on a weeklong trip to Nassau, Bahamas. I was good at my job -- very good and made great money. Unfortunately, it was in direct sales, and due to COVID, they were forced to let a lot of people go. Now I’m unemployed with three kids and I’m not sure if I’ll have a place to live beyond September. Applying for unemployment benefits felt almost dirty since I always felt it was reserved for people who needed it more than me. And even applying for that aide for my family has proven to be almost impossible due to the high volume of Florida residents requiring the same help. So I’m still stuck selling my things online until I can find a source of income or run out of items to sell.”
-- Mike, 29, from Jacksonville, Florida
13.) ‘COVID has sucked the joy out of (retirement)
“This is NOT sustainable. I can’t see my family. I can’t take a road trip to get away. I’m tired of the extra worry. I’ve recently retired. COVID has sucked the joy out of it and created more worries.”
-- A Michigan resident
A few final things: It might feel good to read these, to fill out our form and vent a little bit (please -- I hope you do!), but if you’re struggling or dealing with anything related to your mental health, or you’re feeling more than just “not OK,” please reach out to a trusted friend, family member or therapist. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone, and this article/form is not a substitute for speaking with someone if you need real resources or a listening ear.
For some healthy tips on how to survive during this weird and unprecedented time, check out The Best Advice Show. Episodes are just a few minutes apiece, and you might find some real gems.
Stay healthy. And thank you, everyone, for sharing.