On Mental Health, Social Distancing Diaries

My next evolution: Agoraphobic Corona Karen

I’m increasingly frustrated with the lack of concrete rules in this new world. I mean, I know the idea of “concrete rules” is kinda fantastical anyway because there’s always someone somewhere who disagrees with whatever societal or social rules they feel are imposed on them. But in general, pre-pandemic, there were basic rules about manners and kindness and understood protocol for social and commercial interactions.

But right now? It’s like the Wild Wild West out there. Everyone seems to have a different understanding of how we should be going about our lives and there’s no solid authority figure that everyone agrees to look to for a clear set of guidelines. And if you dare snark about people not following the rules you thought were in place, or point it out on social media, anyone who has a different understanding of the rules gets defensive and then suddenly your Facebook wall is full of people arguing about protocols when there is actually no ONE source of information we can all even agree on in any geographic area.

I mean, once I heard the CDC recommended wearing masks everywhere in public settings I assumed you were either a person who did that, or a person who didn’t. But it turns out that some people make judgement calls based on the amount of people in a store/pharmacy when they go in. So…which rules do we follow?

I don’t know. I find it difficult because I’m a rule follower. I mean, there are a lot of ways I get subversive about things I don’t agree with, but in general I like to lesson my anxiety by following the the basic social rules in any situation. But right now, no one agrees on what the rules are. If I wear my mask in Whole Foods where only, like half of the people are wearing masks…I kinda feel like I’m doing something wrong. Whereas when I go to the small Wal-Mart neighborhood market near my Mom’s apartment – where everyone is JUST there for groceries and nothing else, like 95% of people are wearing masks so I feel much more at ease because it’s like we all agreed on the right set of rules.

I still haven’t run with my running group because I didn’t think we were supposed to be doing that but I keep seeing others do it and I wonder, Did they not read the article I read about the runners who can spread germs running together? But…you know…maybe the article I read was not right? Am I missing out on some much-needed social time for dumb reasons? The Governor didn’t tell us we couldn’t do it, so maybe it’s okay? But I don’t want to run 6-feet apart because then we can’t talk and what’s the point? And can anyone really do that successfully anyway?

I just feel like a lot of my stress right now is realizing we’re not even all playing by the same set of rules during the lockdown, how in the hell are we going to navigate opening the city back up again? I mean, are we all going to agree not to sit within, like, 4 seats of each other at the theater? What about front/back? Most people like to sit in the middle, are people going to avoid filling in rows right behind others? And if your city recommends guidelines like that – like they’re trying to do in Georgia – who actually enforces it? Can I just get up and leave if I don’t feel like anyone is following the rules? Am I going to be a Corona Karen?

And what about introductions in the future? Will we all agree handshakes are off the table indefinitely? Who decides that? Because what if I offend someone because I think they should be off the table but the other person does not? I feel like my social anxiety is just revving up ready to max out next week as the city reopens again. Wesley really needs a haircut and I have a friend who owns a salon and I don’t know when she’s going to open but I want to get him in to her as soon as she does and there’s only two (maybe three?) chairs in the whole place and I know she’ll be smart about masks etc but…what if the other customers are not? And then what if some people don’t agree when salons should open and people get mad that I even took my kid to get a haircut?

This virus just opened up a zillion new ways you can offend people without meaning to and that is like a recipe for my anxiety nightmare world. I don’t mind KNOWINGLY offending people, like with my politics. I just don’t like accidentally upsetting people because they have a different understanding than I do. I can’t just google earth parking lots to find the solution to these worries. Since none of us are agreeing on whose rules to follow, or whose guidelines to ignore, we’re all operating from different places of judgement which means people could be judging me at every turn and for someone plagued with social anxieties AND insecurity, this is like…well…untenable.

I fear a new phase of mild agoraphobia setting in, honestly. Like back in the years between 2004 and 2009, when I just was dealing with so much reproductive shit all the time that I couldn’t manage my emotions outside my home with the constant Trying To Get Pregnant or Trying Not To Miscarry along with the weird social anxieties that developed after I quit smoking…I rarely went anywhere to be social. Donnie would drag me to social functions and I was miserable the entire time. But at least back then I didn’t mind running errands. This time, I’m going to be anti-social AND anti-commercial because WE CAN’T ALL AGREE ON THE RULES AND SO I AM STAYING HOME.

Uggg. That is all. UGGGGGGGGG.

3 thoughts on “My next evolution: Agoraphobic Corona Karen”

  1. I feel like I could develop (may be developing?) agoraphobia too. You are being so brave and getting things done for your people. Maybe listen to another governor or state leaders for advice on best practices or clarity? Our gov (in LA, who is measured and data-centered) and the doctor in his press conference yesterday extending stay at home said outdoor socialization at least six feet apart is ok with very small numbers of people (<10) and encouraged for mental health. There is a difference between being together inside and outside. I do think that medium running post was debunked. But do what makes you comfortable. For me that would be skipping running club just for now. Use that inner Karen for good. I have to keep reminding myself that I can not control other people's choices even when they are so dumb (like the strangers refusing facemasks).

  2. Maybe half or fewer of the people in the Downtown Publix where I went on Saturday were wearing masks, so I feel weird wearing mine. Plus there was on woman in there with her teenage daughter and they both kept handling multiple products, picking things up and putting things back, and blocking the one way isles. I felt bad when I accidentally went the wrong way myself when I got confused. I do keep seeing people (some on the trails when Wesley and I are out there) running together. I think outside is better than inside but the information is so confusing. Im not sure if running or walking with friends is okay or not, I want to but haven’t because I’ve seen several things that say the six foot guidelines are for when you have to be around people, not a way to hang out. I like rules too and don’t like it when they are so confusing!

  3. Wouldn’t it be great if there was somebody in charge that could tell us what the guidelines are?
    I have relatives that go out and visit and do things regularly, and I’m over here not doing anything socially. I am increasingly wondering if I am right or if they are. Was I right not to have grandparents at my daughter’s recent 1 year birthday? Or would it have been fine? Some of my mom’s friends can’t believe she doesn’t visit us. She seems cool with facetime though. But like you it stresses me out wondering what other people think of my decisions.

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