Saturday, August 22, 2020

I'm in a Lousy Mood. Aren't You?

     It took me a long while to begin to notice it, but now I finally realize what's wrong. I'm in a lousy mood. The Coronavirus lockdown is getting to me.

     Lethargy has set in. I sit around the house. It's an effort just to get up out of a chair, go upstairs and find my book. I'm tired of reading anyway. I've been reading twice as many books as I normally do, spending an hour or more in the morning lounging in a chair, drinking coffee and reading a book . . . and sometimes staring into space because it's hard to focus these days.

     We also spend too much time watching TV. The highlight of our day comes at 7:30 p.m., when we finish dinner and get to turn on Netflix or Amazon prime. We've watched an embarrassingly large number of videos: Babylon BerlinFauda, Dead to Me, Call My Agent, Wonderland, Offspring, Schitt's Creek  The list goes on and on.

     Now we're getting sick and tired of watching TV. We typically only last through Season One of any series before we get jittery. We feel like we have to move on to the next one. We're so easily bored these days.

     We watch the weather on TV. After a while it all seems the same. Sunny or rainy. What's the difference? We watch the news, but the commentators are so nasty and hateful, we just turn them off. We saw a little of the Democratic convention, but it was too predictable. With only a few exceptions (like the courageous Gabby Giffords on Wednesday night) it's just politicians talking . . . blah, blah, blah . . . tell me something I don't already know.

Do you feel trapped?
     We spend a lot of time Zooming with friends and family and people we volunteer with over at the college or down at the church. Zooming is another highlight of our day. But it's not the same as seeing someone in person, talking face to face. You go on Zoom to get the job done; not to have fun.

     And then there's way too much time just sitting around and . . . doing nothing. Too much time to think about the past and regret the stupid things we did when we were young -- the opportunities we may have missed, the people we may have let down. Too much time to worry about the kids and what they're doing and how this pandemic is going to affect their lives for now and forevermore. Too much time to wonder about what's going to happen to us. Are we going to be forced to spend our retirement years living like shut-ins, robbed of the excitement of travel, the joys of grandchildren, the satisfaction of helping in the community?

     B and I have talked about this. We feel bad that we feel bad. Many people have it worse than we do. We're not losing a job. We're not losing income thanks to Social Security and a still-thriving stock market that props up our IRAs. We're not front-line workers risking our lives in a hospital or a grocery store. We're just in a bad mood, feeling grumpy, because we can't get on with our lives. We feel stuck. Trapped.

     Day after day is the same. "There's nothing to look forward to,," B complained. "We can't make any plans."

     But we did acknowledge that when we feel frustrated and constrained, the temptation is to take it out on the people nearest and dearest to us -- spouses, family, friends. Yes, we've been snippy to each other -- not because of anything we've done, but just because we're feeling snippy. Dirty dishes in the sink have somehow become important. Clothes left on the floor used to be ignored; now they are annoying.

     We have to consciously be aware that the problem is not with us. It's not the clothes or dishes. It's the situation. We remind ourselves not to turn against each other, or turn against ourselves. There's too much time to judge and criticize -- judge our family, criticize our friends, blame ourselves, demonize people on Facebook. Enmity breeds enmity.

     We have to give everyone a break, including ourselves. I'm lucky to have B, and she's lucky to have me, even if we do occasionally get on each other's nerves now that we're spending so much time together -- and so little time with anyone else. We are lucky to have friends and family who show up on the other side of a Zoom meeting or Facebook call. We're lucky to have a comfortable home and plenty to eat and all the electronics to entertain us.

     Of course there are problems in the world, as there always have been and always will be. But don't take them personally. Don't judge other people too harshly -- don't get down on yourself. We'll stay busy, even if it sometimes seems pointless. See friends when we can. Go for a walk. Go for a ride. Keep our eye on the horizon. Stay positive. We'll get through this.

32 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks so much for this Tom, I am not alone in the sometimes darkness of thoughts and the will it ever effin end scenario. It's hard to keep even and on course (what course?).

XO
WWW

Amy said...

Yes, I am. Thank you for saying so because, some days, I think that I am the only one feeling lousy. I noticed that the lockdown might be having a different effect on those of us who are retired (me) than on those who continue to work from home. For example, the other day, I told my friend that I thought that this might be one of the happiest times in her life. She agreed. She is now teaching her college students online and has eliminated all other non-essential errands and social engagements and finally has time to focus on her own projects. She is as happy as a clam. My husband's mood has improved dramatically, too, since the pandemic forced him to work from home. He used to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. and come home for dinner at 8:00 p.m. Whatever the effect on us, I hope that we can all take away some lessons about how to live better right now and when this is all over. Anyway, thank you for your post -- it made me feel better.

gigi-hawaii said...

Glad you ended with a positive note.

tahoegirl.blog said...

I agree , Tom. I am definetely more snippy and irritated at things. Small things, big things etc. i find myself mumbling things under my breath for no reason except I'm bugged by something. Now with the fires here in N. Ca. we can't hardly go outside the smoke is so bad. It really sucks. all of it. It just feels like everyday is the same. Oh,..wait...is it time to cook? do laundry? blah, blah blah,. I'm glad you put it all into words!!!

Anonymous said...

Tom,

This boredom is much less painful than many in this country that suffered from Covid-19 death, illness and unemployment disproportionately to other countries. I using the extra time to think about the reasons why the pandemic situation is so much worst in this country. Could it be the democratic system we have here that people are free to do whatever they think are their rights, including wearing masks or partying without social distance? No, many countries Canada and New Zealand are also democratic but are in much better situation. The more plausible reason is that we unfortunately do not have national leadership to tackle this pandemic. The response over is chaotic and full of errors. We have free movement of people around the country the virus can travel, we cannot tackle it without a unified national approach. Think again how our country responded to the Second World War and won? A unified national approach. Men and women volunteered for the war effort without much seeking individual rights under a strong national leadership.

This period of extra time and boredom also coincide with the coming election in November, it is a good use of this time to do the best we can to reflect on the current situation and the reasons of failure. To make changes so that we can be better in next crisis. The obvious solution is to Vote for Change – not just vote ourselves, but also encourage our relatives and friends to vote, and better to Vote for Change.

ApacheDug said...

I like your honesty here Tom, and “feeling bad for feeling bad”. I wrestle with that too, I know how fortunate I am compared to so many. A couple days ago I was on my walk home from the market when I encountered a long line of people. I asked one guy if they were waiting on a parade, he told me it was Food Bank Day at the church on my street.

I was shocked. I already knew about the Food Bank, but it was always a small cluster of people at the door, never a line of folk going down the sidewalk for nearly a block. Still... knowing you’re fortunate and feeling it are 2 different things.

Olga said...

Well that pretty much sums it all up!

Juhli said...

Expressing well what many of us are feeling. Thanks.

Gail, northern California said...

Brilliant. I shared this with 30 different friends and family. It always helps to receive assurance that what you're feeling is normal. You haven't lost your mind. So, thank you.

Tom said...

Amy, I'd think that working, even from home, would give anyone a sense of purpose, a degree of normalcy -- altho' my neighbor around the corner is working from home and when I saw him yesterday he said jokingly (but honestly): "My wife is sick and tired of me being home all the time. I just moved my office down to the basement." But anyway, as we all realize, as hard as it is on us, it's much worse for those who have to be out working, meeting the public, risking exposure, and for those who have lost jobs and are scratching for survival.

DJan said...

I am also in pretty good shape compared to others, being retired and receiving Social Security with annuity income. But my sense of existential dread just keeps on growing with every day I try to keep myself in a positive state and failing. :-(

Rian said...

"We can't make any plans." - your words. Personally I think this is the jist of it, Tom. We don't know what tomorrow will bring, so we can't plan ahead. And having a plan has always made me feel more secure. Now you may say that we never really knew what tomorrow would bring - and this is true, but we thought we did. Now we know better.
My fear is that as time goes on, we are going to have to adjust our mentality to this new situation... not just sit around waiting for it all to go away. Can we do this? Maybe.
As far as feeling bad for feeling bad - you aren't alone.

Celia said...

You are singing my song. I'm OK in the scheme of things but the ennui has nearly immobilized me. Then I read an article from Kaiser Health about how retired people wouldn't see much in the way of change in the future because of our high risk category. Ack!

I was taking my car out for a run a couple of times a week (where I live is rural and near some pretty and interesting scenery. I just realized it's been two weeks since I did that. All of my family who wants or needs to work is which in our area is kind of a miracle. But my eldest got C-19 working QC in a frozen food processing plant. The kind of place that has been the source of C-19 outbreaks in our area. One grand-girl is a counselor in the local prison. Another high risk place. Two others are working jobs here at home because the colleges they were going to this fall are now only online.

I am a Crabby Appleton. Just started some in-home exercises on my TV from U-tube but motivating myself is really hard. Keep on though Tom, thanks for writing this so we know we are not alone or the only ones cut adrift for now. Be kind to each other no matter what.

Amy said...

Very true!

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Sorry to hear you are feeling cranky. I too have my moments. In fact I'd be worried about a person who said they didn't during all this. But I have been very fortunate because way back in Jan/Feb we reserved a couple of houses out of town (at the mountains and one at the beach) for several months each. Just going to a new place and navigating a new area has been a balm for my psyche. Walking every day on the beach and riding our new e-bikes has returned me to my mostly optimistic self. I STRONGLY recommend an e-bike for anyone who can afford them because it is SO-O-O much fun and brings out the kid in me. Trust me, I'd bet if you can get your hands on a couple you'd enjoy them too. ~Kathy

Janette said...

Wait! It has been a week since I put a gallon of gas in my car for my trip around town looking at houses. Hurray! something to plan for.
Maybe I can check the mailbox to see if my primary ballot has been picked up when I go out of the drive way.
YES!

Barb said...

I think I sunk and have been coming back out. Most of my depression has to do with missing the peeps fom my knitting group or church group and as someone else said, not eing able t make plans. I have more than enough to keep me busy and moving, but I am at the point where I wonder where and when it will end

Red said...

What a great post. I'm sure many people can identify with you. Yes, we are going to have to be watchful that we don't blame others for our blahs.

Jeanette Lewis said...

Your post captured so many themes that are commonly experienced as we struggle to get through this pandemic. Although the virus is more contained in Ontario, Canada, where we live, neither my husband nor I take any risks as we know that COVID-19 lurks around us. Fear of catching the virus has displaced us from our daily/weekly routines. The changes bring different emotional responses -- sadness, irritability, anxiety, and uncertainty. The stress often leaves me feeling heavier. Nonetheless, technology keeps us connected and facilitates a type of social contact.
There is little choice but to seek opportunities for growth as we adapt to the new normal -- whatever that is!

Arkansas Patti said...

Yep, have been there. Sometimes it seems almost hopeless but then something will pick me back up again. I guess if even Michelle Obama can have low grade depression, we can too. I cling to your last 6 sentences.

Realitywoman said...

I love your articles. Just found them this morning. Retirement(new to me). Reason I was even looking at "retirement" things was due to my brother. I made a comment about a "dropped the ball" issue in regards to my husband. My brother stated, "I need a schedule". This needed a little thinking, hmm. Off to the Internet to see what others are saying? One retirment meant to me, no clocks, no schedule, no "have-toos" unless I want too. My whole life has been on a schedule. I get bored easily, I never even liked driving to work the same way. But I don't procrastinate, I'm a doer. Now my brother has a strict routine, each day. You know it's Saturday, laundry day. Me, I'm more flexible. Oh sure, I get up at or near the same time daily (without an alarm). But I refuse to set a calendar to when I do the laundry, vaccum, etc. If I need to do laundry on Sunday, I do it. However, doing the same thing day in and day out is not my idea of retirement. If my garden is calling, I'm on it. I don't wait until my scheduled time to garden. Some days I watch TV too long (mainly during the pandemic)but other days I don't. I limit my time on the internet, sitting, and food. During this pandemic, distancing was not working with my refrigerator. Do I have certain things and activities I do each day, yes. Do I do them at the same time each day, "no". I was one who thought, I need a routine, I'll have nothing to do during retirement. Opposite, I don't have enough time to do it all. This freedom is fantastic! The fact, that I can plan coffee with the ladies, read a book, go for hikes, travel (not right now) but my schedule is mine. Each to their own I guess but life has to be flexible (especially today). I find I have less stress now than ever before, because I don't have a strict schedule. Okay, here's a play on words, I have daily things that I do or don't do! Some of these sites actually had minute by minute schedules. Yikes! So thank you for being flexible and realistic. Retirement should be a time of "your" schedule.
Happiness, stay safe, and great health to all. Thank you!

Laurie Stone said...

Wonderful post, Tom. You encapsulated so many things I'm feeling. You're not alone. Not being able to make plans is a perfect way to express the malaise we're all feeling -- no travel, hardly any restaurants, can't just go see a friend. "Everything's ruined," says my husband Randy when he's feeling the sting of not playing bass in his beloved bands anymore. I thank God writing wasn't taken away. In fact, I find myself writing more than ever. I need it. And you're right. Someday we'll get through this... but its tough.

David @iretiredyoung said...

I think I'm doing pretty well with coping, partly because I don't have the job, financial and (fingers crossed) health worries that some have. But I'm with B for the area that I do sometimes feel some frustration, I can't make plans, and that does occasional get to me. But as you and others say, there are others who have real worries and they are the ones I think of.

Kevin in Virginia said...


Thanks, Tom - this is what leadership looks like.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

It has been hard and the end doesn't appear to be in sight in 2020. I feel almost the same, although 8 hours of my day is broken up with work. But my husband has been out of work since March. No one is hiring a banquet chef right now. But we are doing something different. After three weeks of self-quarantining, we started getting together with another couple down here in Florida. My husband is a two-time cancer survivor so we are extra cautious, but we are going out to things like a local farmer's market. Or visiting parks in the early morning when fewer people will be there.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

Reading this after binge-watching about 20 episodes of Schitt's Creek over the weekend while I'm dog sitting. I know how you feel. I watch the news. I'm addicted to it but I haven't read any books because I can't focus on them right now. I don't have anyone to get annoyed with so yell at people on a dedicated Twitter account just to let off steam. Hoping this will be over during the rest of our lifetimes, but there's that asteroid heading toward Earth, so you never know.

Priscilla said...

I think you're living in my brain!!!! Exact same feelings & sentiments! One wonders when we'll be able to look back 7 recall this horrible time in history. I sure wish it would hurry up & get here!!

jono said...

Late to the party again. This makes me want to go back to college and study situation ethics again. It would be interesting to see how it applies now. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am still working full time and volunteering a short shift at a grocery store for those who still want to do curbside pick up. It is kind of fun to see what others eat and sometimes gives me ideas. I have found myself watching too much TV and reading too much politics which just pushes my blood pressure higher. I am guessing we'll be living this way for another year so I am trying to embrace it as normal. Daily meditation, sometimes guided, also helps. I wish us all good luck and good health.

Lea said...

You nailed it Tom. My husband and I feel suspended, floaty...and yes, sometimes snippy. Why don't I purge the closets and clean the attic now that I have all this time? I just don't feel like it (read that with a whine...). But like you, my husband and I have much to be grateful for, and we ARE grateful.... so I give myself a few mental slaps and add on some guilt. Sigh. It was good to read your piece and some of the comments and feel we all have this in common. I imagine hugging the grandkids I haven't seen since March until they beg for release and maybe a few trips to celebrate as well. I hope I treasure all that is "normal" for the gift it is once we get some semblance of that back.

Barbara said...

I feel exactly like you said. Once in a while, I find myself enjoying something I am doing and the feeling feels strange because there is so little true enjoyment these days. I am lucky to be secure in my little world, if Trump doesn't do away with Social Security, but I am shuttered-in from all the little enjoyments that used to be my life. I am Thankful with a capital T for all I do have, but yes, I am grumpy too.

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