Recently I've been the unwilling host to one of the worst of Snow White's seven Dwarfs, Grumpy, along with his lesser-known cousins Cranky, Scowly, Snarky, Snarly, Weepy and Mopey.
(Thank goodness Sneezy stayed home.)
I'm a happy, albeit hermit-y, person most of the time. So it came as a surprise to find myself veering from one unattractive Dwarf personality to another for the last couple of weeks.
I thought I should be sailing through the current morass of bleakness and shocking information overload without much difficulty. My routine has hardly changed under self-isolation. I'm still able go to work, as is my husband; our work can be managed without much face-to-face contact with clients. The rest of the time we do what we've always done -- stay home and entertain ourselves. We are still able to go outside for a walk, and we have a large yard to enjoy. We even have a backup box of unread books, which is almost as important to us as backup groceries.
But whether the feelings were sensible or not, there they were. I lost interest in little things that usually please me, and
raged instead about the stupidity of humanity and the maudlin internet memes and the still very evident political divisions and how
nothing will change about the world after the crisis has subsided. I
felt bitter that some of the most polluting industries will be getting
the lion's share of subsidies to help them stay afloat, that people's wasteful and selfish behavior will return to the fore when we are allowed out of our homes, and that once
people leave self-isolation and start driving their vehicles again, world smog
levels will return to what they've always been.
Eventually I decided my state of mind was not totally due to the failings and maudlin tendencies of humanity, although I still think the maudlin bit deserves some serious eye-rolling. I decided I must have been stressed without actually realizing I was stressed. After I worked it out, the Dwarfs more or less went up in a puff of smoke. (Is that an unacceptable mixing of fairy tale images?)
But the experience made me really ponder the long-range effects of this pandemic on populations around the world. Stressors such as fear, change, deprivation, the unknown, being eye to eye with our mortality, plus isolation and so many others must be taking a toll on people, whether they appear to be coping or not.
And how much worse it must be for those who have pre-existing anxiety, depression, OCD, loneliness, phobias, food insecurity, domestic violence, and so on. What will fear combined with isolation do to those already in pain?
And what about the many people of the world in war-torn or developing countries who already faced the daily possibility of death before this health crisis ever reared its miserable head? The last thing they needed was another threat to their safety and lives. Maybe those of us who have lived in peace all our days can more viscerally identify with their state of mind now.
I know my train of thought is hardly new or unique. Those who regularly tend to and work with disadvantaged folks of all kinds anticipated and have already experienced an increase in need.
How many other consequences have we not even dreamed of?
I wonder what our world will look like a year down the road. Two years. Ten years. Fifty years.
How long will the effects of this pandemic ripple through the future?
I can't leave you on that note so here's a Snow White and Dwarfs funny for you:
And now . . . Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it's off to work I go.