What a Novelist Learned About Themselves in Self-Isolation So Far

I’ve finished my second book for #Quarantineathon and will do a blog about it soon, but the readathon has got me thinking about somethings I’ve realized along the way. I’m still staying home and just avoiding people in general for the sake of my own health. Yep. This is my plan for the long run. It’s mentally and emotionally challenging, but I think it’s the best way forward for me. Just a warning from someone with PTSD and anxiety some of these are probably morbid and deep. Others are absolutely silly and ridiculous. Read ahead, but you’ve been warned.

1. I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of suffering.

As my longtime readers know I have an unhealthy obsession with wondering about what comes after death. I’ve had it for years. Not just in a spiritual seeker way either. Like I used to have panic attacks about falling into oblivion. I don’t think I was ever really afraid of dying. I’m afraid of suffering. Hearing about how this virus kills people scares the shit out of me. I’ve had healthy anxiety off and on my whole life. I think this is why. I think it’s pretty common too, but it’s something I didn’t actually put together until recently.

2. I don’t fear not getting to do everything I want in life. I fear being forgotten.

I was born with a TBR list too long to ever read. I want to see more of the world than my bad foot and bank account will ever let me. I’m okay with that. I still have great experiences. What I fear is doing nothing worth remembering. I have friends who tell me I have people who enjoy my books – I’ve impacted a small corner of the world. Okay, yeah, but I’m afraid I’ll be forgotten. One day I will. John Green talks about this a lot. That he fears something similar and one day that will happen no matter what we do as individuals. I’ll settle for cheering up and making as many people laugh as possible for the time I’m here.

3. I am NOT a workaholic. Writing is a coping mechanism for me.

Seriously. I write to explain the world to myself and to better understand the world around me. Something about sitting uninterrupted for hours at a time tapping away at the keyboard soothes my anxious soul. When I can’t or don’t the world is too much.

4. I’m an introvert, but I miss the people at my local grocery store.

I want to know how my favorite and usual cashier’s grandkids are. I want to know how the lady at customer service is doing on weight watchers. I don’t have contact with them on social media and I miss my weekly updates on their lives.

I also miss the old people who always chose me to ask where something was or if I’d help them get something down. I miss hearing their stories and seeing their smiles. I miss the rugrats darting in between carts and laughing. It was never really a personal experience, but as an introvert it was an experience I loved.

People are creatures of habit and I saw a lot of the same folks every week. I miss them. I doubt they’re reading this, but if you’re in a little town in WV and have a customer who always asks about your grandkids -it’s me!!!! lol

5. I don’t get bored of reading.

I always thought there would be a point I got bored of reading. There’s not. I’ve gotten bored of particular books. Don’t give me that look. We all do it. I just haven’t gotten bored of reading.

6. I hate when another person reads to me, but I love audiobooks. I like them more than Netflix.

Seriously, this one through me for a loop. Before this crazy all started I mostly listened to them while I gamed. (Stardew Valley and Sims 3 if you must know). Now, I listen to them while I clean and  cook. Sometimes if I’m overwhelmed by my own thoughts (and it’s not storming) I’ll lay down and just listen to half an hour of one doing nothing else. It’s nice to focus on.

7. I have more of an online support network than I thought.

Now that I all of my social activities are online I realize how many people I speak to every day and how much I enjoy those conversations. I knew I cared about them, but I didn’t realize how much.

8. I love talking about books. 

Okay, so there was a time in my life I knew this. Then I started hanging out with a bunch of people who didn’t read. My reading time shrank and so did how much I talked about books. (Not Harry Potter. Still brought it up every time I could.) Now, I talk about books all the time. I do it on the phone. I participate in r/52book. This is the first month I’m participating in a reading on r/bookclub. (Both are on Reddit for those of you unfamiliar with the platform.) We’re reading Journey to the Center of the Earth. This isn’t a book I’d have picked up on my own. It’s an okay book, but I love talking about it with other people.

9. I’ve been sad for a long time.

I’m good at ignoring sad. I’m really good at it given my early childhood and teen years. I’m okay with being sad, because so much has happened to me over the last few years that has really added to and brought to the surface my PTSD issues. I don’t really ignore it anymore, though. I can’t. It’s me and sadness alone on the computer trying to avoid each other. It doesn’t work.

I’ve cried. I’ve journaled. I’ve admitted to myself how much some people close to me really broke my heart. I admitted and accepted as much as I want to be a stone hearted bitch, I’m not. At times I’m a bleeding heart and that’s why I cut out toxic people so much. I know they’ll hurt me and I just don’t have time to be hurt over and over. I don’t need those people in my life.

10. There is no limit to the amount of times I will watch Orange is the New Black.

Seriously, sometimes I have it on all the time if I’m not reading, working, or listening to an audiobook. I keep going back to it when there’s nothing to watch.

11. Left to my own devices I maintain weight, but don’t lose it.

I’ve been on a weight loss journey for a long time. With being home so much I’ve cut myself a lot of slack. Anxiety messes with my appetite in both directions. I won’t eat all day one day and then only eat dinner. On another day I’ll snack all day. Then the next I’ll eat three meals. This is me when I’m not tracking calories. Somehow over the last month of not tracking I haven’t gained or lost a single pound.

12. I probably should make a twitter account.

I hate drama. So much of what I see from Twitter is drama. Damn it hell, though, that’s also where so many readathons are based. I’m thinking about it, but probably won’t make an account.

What have you learned about yourself during this chaotic time?