Processing Quarantine

In the last few days (under quarantine) I have learned something about myself…and about my daughter. (Actually, I am sure we are all learning a lot about each other!) But let me back up a second.

For those who have never read anything I have written, my name is Lea. I write about Deathwalking (I am a death doula), tiny house living (like you see on HGTV), what living with autism looks like from my perspective (I have a 22-year-old daughter with autism) and traveling (my favorite pastime).

My daughter, Birdie, was diagnosed late with high functioning Aspergers and while it explains a lot, we are still learning a lot….all the time. I know that she and I process information completely differently. That message was received loud and clear when she was a child. But what I didn’t know (until Covid-19 Quarantine) was how differently we process the Corona Virus news. I guess we haven’t had many opportunities to hear the same bad news together, usually it’s something that is happening to either me or to her but not to both of us…at the same time.

The first week of March, I started to hear about the Coronavirus troubling China. It was interesting but not super concerning. The second week of March we sent my mom back home to Montana after a three-week visit. The day we sent her home the news started to blow up. The virus troubling China was REALLY troubling Italy. The first few days Bird and I were both glued to our phones. Since we don’t have a TV, it’s how we source our news. I would throw myself squarely between doomsday preppers and the “they gotta be kidding” group.  But, we both started to notice a difference in our sleep, our level of anxiety and how the news was affecting our health.

I decided I was only going to check my news sources twice a day, in the morning and again before bed. Maybe that would help lower the creeping stress.

Birdie was laid off on Monday. Our state (Washington) was handed Stay At Home orders from the Governor on Wednesday. Super concerned… was now on my radar.

Here we are, about 5 days into our Quarantine and I had to stop checking the news feeds.  Bird had to stop checking hers.

And here is where our processing differences came to light. I had to stop checking the news because by nature I can be obsessive/compulsive. Boy have I been riding those two impulses for a couple of weeks now like a carnival ride. One of the ways I process things is to talk about it. I want to read about it, discuss it, digest and throw it back up with all of my ever multiplying theories and questions.

Bird, on the other hand, has a complete unappreciation for anything dystopian. Nope. Will not engage. Hard Pass. It’s not a world she wants to be part of. Turns out Covid-19 is starting to resemble something a little dystopian. With every check-point and border closing, she worries about her civil liberties. She is worried about her loss of insurance, the insurance we waited so long to get. She wonders if we should bug out to Grammy’s house. Birdie can not process this epidemic. Every media source screams at her to run for her life. The same inability to “picture things” in her mind’s eye, also doesn’t allow her to imagine a solution to this pandemic. That leaves little room for hope.

For the sake of saving what little hope she has, I cannot discuss the news with her. There will be no masticating of the horror consuming our planet. I will “cliff notes” it as best I can for her and cling to any good news.

We have both had to process the loss of “normal” as we know it. Bird has thrown herself into learning the Ukulele. Music is a comforting companion these days. Since I can’t really process out loud (quarantined…in a tiny house….with Birdie), I may show up here a bit more and discuss it with you.

One thing I know is that there is no right way to process bad news. We don’t all process it the same. We don’t all process grief the same way. Depression and anxiety are at all-new levels so be respectful and be sensitive. This is hard for everyone. Be patient, empathetic, kind, generous, and for the love of Jesus, wash your hands.

How are you all processing the bad news?



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