Life Update in Quarantine (after 5 months and counting…)
written by: Prime Sarino
Hello. My name is Prime and I live in Cebu in the Philippines and I work with Rezinate. This is my experience curing COVID and the crazy year that is 2020.
I was set to travel to Nepal last March and spend 6 months on a working adventure. My flight tickets were booked and the necessary papers were on hand. I was ready to take a big leap this year, to travel far beyond my bubble and take the plunge into the unknown. I had never been away from home before so I was nervous but excited. But I guess I took the wrong impression about this year, because everything just changed, and took a turn upside down for everyone and the world…
So just ONE WEEK before my flight, our government announced a dreaded stay-home order for all residents of the city and the rest of the province. I wasn’t going anywhere! We never imagined it was just a lead to prepare for even more strict lockdown in the coming days. And so, I already had my doubts about pushing through with the trip. And then, news came about flights being interrupted and travels were being barred. Although I had my suitcase ready and packed with special warm weather jumpers for Kathmandu weather. As the weather here in Cebu in always steamy, I had to sell my summer clothes to buy winter ones. And yet, to this day I have never worn them. My wardrobe is packed with jackets I can never wear.
So now, sadly, I finally decided it’s time to let the idea go about the Kathmandu trip. Apart from the imposed travel bans and stay-home orders – with the growing number of COVID cases now being reported in the city, I realized the matters were getting serious already. Not only did I miss out on my trip, but things at home were also looking very stuck.
Days at home were a breeze in the first few weeks as I was still trying to connect and get out with people. I thought it would be short term. But then, two weeks turned into 30 days… 60 and then 90 days. I spent my 30th birthday in quarantine, far from what I initially imagined it would be. I thought I would be backpacking into the views of the Himalayan mountains in Pokhara.
As these days and months passed by, my sense of self was starting to fade and I felt anxious. My vulnerability was heightened as the crisis hit me to the point that it distracted my focus and confidence. I was worried about getting sick and also being isolated. I live in a small home with my family and I felt being confined was going to affect my immunity as I couldn’t do the activities that kept me well and happy. I know the link between my body and my mindset. Healthy mind = healthy body. Walking makes me happy and then increases my immunity. So, during isolation, I felt my health was compromised.
I wasn’t sure I could cope with this ongoing crisis. The quarantine phase is similar to a first roller coaster ride. The first part was all about being anxious and uncertain. The second phase is anticipating emotions of the rough ride that has become overwhelming. The third phase is the peak of the ride. You’re on top of all those heightened senses, adrenaline is kicking in and everything is just all over the place and that screaming at the top of your lungs is the easiest way to release everything.
And once you’re being dropped, it eases out a little bit, giving you a period to cope, recover, settle back… only to prepare for another set of this cycle. Another go on the roller coaster!
And so, my anxiety became more vivid and there were strange periods of attacks that I have never experienced before. It was hard when it showed up. Slight tension in the chest area makes me feel like I’m hyperventilating. And then I feel the coldness in my hands and feet and start to have big sweats all over the body. Usually, it is uncontrollable and I observed that this happens when something triggers my anxiety. When you have these periodic attacks, please know that you can overcome this. Deep breathing and trying to work on being present and calm will help it to subside. Just a reminder to honour what you’re going through and know you’re capable to overcome the struggle.
In order to divert and distract myself and to avoid those strange attacks, I kept myself busy. By then, I realized that creating a routine plays a positive difference during home isolation. From waking up, pushing myself to do a quick yoga practice, preparing breakfast and or appreciating a fresh brewed coffee to start the morning. Just recently, I’ve added doing a meditation that my awesome boss, Debbie gave, which I usually do at the end of my day. It really helped me to get through those difficult days. If you also like to try it out here’s the link.
Another thing that also shed some light on these days was a quote that I came across while reading an article about how artists cope with their own self-isolation, and then this quote by Georgia O’Keeffe:
“Anyone with any degree of mental toughness ought to be able to exist without the things they like most for a few months at least.”
It left a big impression on me after reading this, as it moved me to get by one day at a time, without thinking or even resenting too much of the ‘earthly’ or ‘physical things’ that I might have missed during the quarantine. Walks. Bike riding. Coffee with friends. Eating lunch out with a group of mates. Going window shopping with friends. Socializing at the office.
It is saying that we have to value more meaningful things in life, while anything is possible when you try to conquer what you have no control of and adapt to your situation.
True enough, I observed how people shifted and gave more value to the things that they were previously taking for granted. The simple moments of getting together for birthdays are celebrated via Zoom and organized conference calls. A quality cooked meal, or a newly added recipe for baking. The full excitement of perfecting this could make any day! That arvo tea with a book at the hand of which you’re able to find time to read already. Even getting a house plant and trying to keep it alive, then finding that sense of fulfillment in seeing its first bloom. New sprouts that come to life gives a big sense of therapy and contentment in nurturing another living thing at this time of uncertainty.
It has been 5 months and counting (as my country is still in lockdown), and I still have my hopes up that these terrible times will end. It might not be the way we all wanted, because it will never be the way that it used to be. It will still be an open-ended year for me as we’re still on this journey but one thing is for sure, we all have been through a lot and there’s a lot of overcoming your own vulnerability, rediscovery, and self-awakening. Going back on how it used to be is not the answer. It’s the choice of moving forward to a more mindful, sustainable, and adaptable way of living to get through day by day.
Response from Debbie:
Such a great article written by Prime who works with James and myself every day. Hearing what is happening in other countries is important so we don’t always stay so fixated on our current challenges. We all need an eagle’s view (big picture) sometimes to keep perspective. The things I took away from the post was:
1. Keep yourself in a good physical routine and connect to your body and a routine to stay grounded and resilient
2. Be grateful for the simple things in life – nurturing a plant, finding ways to cook new things etc
3. Building mental resilience is powerful and going ‘without’ sometimes is a good lesson to learn this
4. Panic attacks can happen to anyone. Practicing breathing and meditation are fundamental in our busy lives
5. Life will throw us curve balls, but don’t give up on your dreams. I know Prime will make her overseas trek to Nepal one day… or somewhere equally as beautiful.
Love to hear how you are evolving this year in 2020? Share your thoughts below.