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Dear COVID-19 (or Dear Isolation)

a man in isolation looks out of his window during the COVID quarantine as discussed in the corresponding letter

Can I write to you if I don’t believe to have contracted you? Like the overwhelming majority of folks – I think – I’m without your diagnosis but still living under your rule. I’m social, and I’m impatient – two rough traits to have at the moment when we’ve been asked to isolate for an undetermined period of time.  I feel like a fraud – writing to complain about how a sickness that I don’t have and no one I know has, is hurting me; when everyone is living under a lot of the same circumstances. Some – even worse off than I.  And yet, being isolated really hurts!  Especially when you live alone… I feel like the only person who doesn’t have anyone to go home to.  I feel so alone!

I barely see my parents – only from a distance, now, and only with a mask and gloves on.  It feels sterile and weird and off-putting.  I’d almost rather not go to see them at all this way… I haven’t really seen my partner, who has a ‘high risk’ condition; nor have I seen much of my friends, who have quarantined with their small family units. I haven’t seen those I feel closest to in almost a month, now, and the light at the end of the tunnel is still barely there.

I haven’t been to the gym in just as long – I feel as though a physical part of me is slipping-away, which terrifies me in turn.  I know I’m considered “lucky” because I’ve got access to a bicycle – a great way to move my body in this new age of social distancing! The weather isn’t cooperating consistently, though, and on my rides I see families’ interacting on a close physical basis and it reminds me of what I miss most.  I miss physical touch. I miss physical proximity!  I miss feeling connected and a part of some sort of tribe…

I am able to interact with others to some extent and in relatively close proximity. I see the people I work with, because I’m considered ‘essential’. I guess that means I should count myself – again – as “lucky”.  Many people have found themselves without jobs because of you…  I’m a tenuous part of the medical supply chain – it seems silly that I show-up in person during this pandemic, but I don’t have much of a choice and would certainly be worse off without some place to be and something to do on a routine basis.  Even if my days are being cut short and my task list – barely there… These days, I spend more time with my dog than I ever have before; and I’m thrilled to have a companion in him, even if he doesn’t understand what’s happening and barely responds to the conversations I strike-up. If only my job felt more productive and my dog – able to talk back…

I’m told now that I’m supposed to “look at the positives”, but that doesn’t feel right because it requires that I ignore the very elements that make me feel human and are very much gone.  I’m not sure there’s anything good in this, even though I’d like there to be.  I have had some realizations. The isolation highlights in my mind what I miss the most and what I’m grateful to still have: Routine and structure, purpose and function, physical connection to those I love…  Being able to spontaneously go out is important to me, too.  I know that eventually, things will go back to some sense of normality.  I can’t wait to travel a bit when they do – to reconnect with people that matter to me and with a sense of personal freedom, as I do.  Maybe reminding myself of what I do have in normal times (before you, COVID-19, turned the world on its head); is key.  Perhaps I can hold that which I took for granted initially – out in front of me now, like a light. Maybe that’s what I need to do to keep myself moving along this lonely, obscure tunnel…

But, right now, life under your rule just sucks.

​Male, Age 38
Healthy but Under Quarantine…

Dear Diagnosis Affirmation Key

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