Mentally . . . adrift

I recently read something profound, on Facebook no less. It was a letter from a trauma specialist.

The headline:

“I want to acknowledge that living through this pandemic is a trauma.”

That stopped me. I know so many of us are beating ourselves up for not being more productive—I hear it all the time now. “Every morning I wake up with big plans for the day and wind up sitting and staring into space. Then guilt trip myself.” This from an someone who is usually an active and prolific writer. Another writer friend wrote, “Such a strange feeling of being physically confined but mentally . . .adrift.”

Yes, mentally adrift. That’s how I feel.
I have a whiteboard full of to-do’s, things I meant to do if I had the time. Well, now that I have time, that we have the time, I/we can’t. I wander, room to room, outside, inside. I sit on my front porch and stare at my roses and listen to the birds for hours. I get nothing done. I start reading a real book instead of listening to an audiobook. I can’t multitask. I clean out a drawer. Then I get nothing else done.

We can’t go out so I prepare a lovely meal every night around six, and my husband and I sit down to eat together; cloth napkins, candles and all. Sometimes wine, sometimes Campari and soda, most times Pelegríno and bitters on the rocks.

I’m craving deep peace, and I search for moments of it through my day. I resist hurrying, I have an unusually low tolerance for stress, and now I know it’s natural and I am not alone.

With trauma, parts of our brain shut down as a defense mechanism for survival. Our ability to fully process what is going on is limited, and feeling numb and out of touch is normal. Everyone manifests trauma differently: Some get anxious, while others get depressed. I sit on my front porch in my rocking chair, staring at my roses.

In-depth processing of trauma happens years later, long after the trauma-producing event, when we feel emotionally safe to deal with it.

When it’s over.

But not now. Now I refuse to feel guilty about being non productive. When we are experiencing trauma, if we can just get by emotionally, if we can just function, that’s okay.

We need to be kind even to, especially to, ourselves.


  1. Gloria Foreman · April 17, 2020

    I thought I was the only one feeling this way. I’ve been working since I was 13. I got laid off 3 weeks ago and it’s very likely the company will go out of business. In the past I would have given a lot to have 3 weeks off to catch up on all the things I never had time for. Now I may have the rest life the get them done and I can barely get out of my own way. I’ll be 60 by the end of the year. By the time the economy gets back to “normal”, hiring a 60+ year old will be very unlikely. It’s very discouraging. I feel heartbroken for losing the life I had but so grateful I haven’t lost a life in my circle.
    Thanks Deb💜


  2. pippipip · April 16, 2020



  3. Giovanni Pagano · April 15, 2020

    Such great insight and heartfelt words. Thank you Deb.


  4. Betty Finley · April 15, 2020

    Thanks Deborah!! This fits me so well! And I’ve felt awful about not cleaning out the kitchen cabinets 😲. Feels better to have a sympathetic soul at my side.


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