Thursday, March 26, 2020

My Isolation Meltdown

As I watch TV news and get the latest updates on the covid-19 virus, I see pictures from Italy and Spain that paint a horrific picture of what they are going through.

Then: A commercial appears, many commercials in a row and they are jarring now, showing us how life used to be just a few weeks ago. People dance, hug, eat in restaurants, kids are out playing, cars are being sold, Viking cruses promoted, airplanes taking off, normal life is going on.

I love to stay home alone and did so for months last fall. Nothing weird happened, no fits of tears, no strange thoughts. I grieved for Errol in a way I hadn't done earlier, but I lived through it and thought it to be normal and much needed.

This is what happened the other day: 

With nothing better to do, one morning while still in bed, I thought about Wasa crisp bread, found in every Swedish home. Oh, I thought, it's dry, it will last and is healthy to boost, perfect should I need to stay at home for a long time. 

So I went to Amazon to see if they had it, of course they did. 

Then I moved on to another Swedish mainstay, herring. Most of you probably will not understand my love of this marvelous, fatty, fish. In olden days in Sweden, it was said a young woman was not ready to marry until she knew how to prepare, pickle and preserve this wondrous fish in at least 32 different ways. 

Swedes are serious about their herring.

There were lots of herrings on Amazon. I was getting more and more excited as I scrolled down the herring column and viewed herring in glass jars and cans.

Then I remembered a fish roe that came in a tube. But I couldn't remember the name. So I scrolled down among all the cans of herrings and then I found it: Kalles Kaviar!

I saw a tube of Kalles Kaviar and I started to cry!

I was suddenly hit by such a nostalgic longing for a time long ago, for Sweden, its lakes, forests, and the archipelago where I spent every summer. I became more and more sentimental as I thought of Stockholm, my home town, with its many islands, ferries, and old steam boats. I thought of medieval churches and cobblestone streets. I missed my family, or more accurately, not having a family of my own. How I longed for that feeling of normalcy and safety. 

Did my breakdown of nostalgic longing have something to do with being classified, in corona virus risk terms, as a vulnerable, older individual with two underlying conditions?  I'm sure it did. 

When I've refused various hard to tolerate medicines, I've  often bravely quoted the author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich: "I'm old enough to die." When she said this on the PBS News Hour, she was actually three years younger than I am now.

So I'm thinking, OK, I may be old enough to die, but not like they are dying in Italy and Spain. Not ready for that kind of departure.

I'm usually pretty upbeat, tears may come to my eyes when bad things happens to animals, sad dog eyes in an animal shelter, but I rarely cry, and certainly not over a tub of fish roe. 

My meltdown was all about my longing for a safe place. For not being classified as vulnerable, for being a child again with no worries.

Soon after this episode, I was back to normal, happy again here on my little mountain, among my juniper trees, ravens, rabbits and coyotes.  

I wanted to share this - you are my friends and that's what happened to me. I wonder - have you noticed strange new behaviors or thoughts creeping into your lives during this time of isolation?



I read Lady Chatterley's Lover and as far as I can remember, I was not impressed. 


  1. I think what happened to you is normal. it has not happened to me yet, but I am not alone, I have bob here with me. if I were alone I am sure I would meltdown also. to me, it is easier to handle chaos like this virus, just by having someone in the house with us... this might help. we can't go home, ever. if you went back to Sweden you would hardly recognize any thing there or people. what we have in our heads are fond memories, no longer there. the last time I went back to Savannah, my home town, I got lost, could not find my cousins home, saw nothing I recognized and half of the people from my youth have passed on. I am happy you came back out of your meltdown and hugs that is will stay away....

  2. I think you're very normal in feeling you're not ready to die yet. I'm old, but still with many plans and not in the least resigned to maybe not having more time to get on with them. My life now is not a lot different from normal, but it's not my choice now to be alone, and that makes it different.

    The odd thing is that I'm sleeping well. So my subconscious seems to be making its peace with the situation. I hope you can sleep. And I'm glad that bad moment passed.

  3. I'm in the phase of life -- 70 in July -- where I, too, am most at risk. I'm (mostly) healthy and very active before this time. I'm in New York City and tragically, our pictures are rivaling Italy. I've lived a terrific life, but sincerely hope for more. Most of the time I'm okay and especially okay when I'm out and walking. Thank you for your very thoughtful post.

  4. I am certainly old enough to die and actually have no fear of death. I do fear the dying part though so I am following all the rules hoping to make it through. Eat those foods that make you happy, enjoy nature and we will make it through.

  5. Oh Inger, what a touching post!! I have been trying to comment on your blog and fix my 'google problem' for so long and decided I needed to pull out the laptop so I could comment. All of my other devices will not allow me to leave a comment. First of all, loved the last post on Lady Chatterly and I thought to myself... you need to write a memoir. You are a very interesting woman!! I would be one of the first ones in line for such a memoir. As for todays post, I pain right along with you... for simpler times. You wrote about your thoughts so beautifully. I admire you - you are always so strong and independent. I have closed my business for a time because of the coronavirus happenings. My husband as well as his 88 year old uncle who lives with us in an adjoining apartment, are both high risk. I do not know where this will lead.. business was slow as it was, so who knows where this will take me. And... in the middle of it all, Gracie became very sick with a severe ear infection that seems to have no cure thus far. She walks with an extreme tilt to her head and is very unsteady. She fights me when I give her meds, which makes things that much more difficult. She was vomiting at first, but the nausea meds seemed to have helped that but she has not had an appetite for days. She is very sad to watch. I hope Faith and Samson are doing well... please forgive me for not commenting before... I do read, I just don't have the capability of leaving comments on my other devices. Thank you for always being a friend! Take care... we send much love!

    1. Thanks for suggesting I should write my memoir. Other friends of mine have suggested this as well. For now, I will just continue to write on my blog. I want to work on my storytelling skills, get better at it. I don't think I have the energy for a book any more. Continuing to write short stories of my life, sounds like a lot of fun though. Thanks for your kind thought and friendship. I wrote an additional comment on your blog regarding Gracie. Samson is worried.

  6. Good morning Inger, I read with interest your nostalgic post this morning. I'm glad that you are back to your positive mind set. I'm sorry for not making my rounds of comments on blogs. During Lent, I have mostly been praying and reading instead of being on Social media. It is really a time to take stock of our lives and be thankful for all the gifts God has given us. Thank you for your friendship through the years.
    So far my husband and I are both well but we are both high risk for this Covid-19 virus. Him with compromised lungs and myself with a compromised immune system from Chemo and radiation.
    Stay safe and well.
    Hugs, Julia

  7. When we are scared and vulnerable, our memories turn homeward to a time and place where we felt safe and loved. Despite the tears that come, it is a good place to be.

  8. I'm glad that feeling passed. This is a tough time right now for everyone but remember. This too shall pass! We will be back to normal times before you know it!

  9. Yes, we are all so stressed out! I am longing for a safe place as well. I guess the only place that is safe is our home. We are high risk, and my mind keeps going there. And for the first time in my memory, hospitals may not be much help. The images from Italy and Spain are so dreadful and sorrowful. I, also, have been noticing how jarring and normal and happy the commercials are. Your tree pictures are beautiful, especially the first one. I am so glad you are well!! Maybe you can find someone to do your shopping? Or wear latex gloves when you have to go to the store; that's what we are doing.

  10. The new normal is fine, I am always so happy to be home alone, but three of us, all confined together, a bit daunting now. As over 70's, it is suggested that we do not do our own shopping for pharmacy and grocery, and I have found it really hard to do a shopping list in the order of the aisles to make it as easy as I can. When out in the supermarket it was so easy to go back and pick up something you had forgotten. Now we are in LOCKDOWN, the number of people in a pharmacy or supermarket is strictly controlled, only so many in at one time, when that number is reached, the next person in the queue has to wait till one comes out. So far NZ has not had anyone in ICU, and no deaths, and our government and indeed all the people want it to stay that way. Did you have a snowfall the other day? Let Samson and Faith comfort you as you , as our Boris and Moxy do for us. XXXX and virtual hugs.

    1. I mentioned on your blog how together your NZ government is. And, yes, we had a snowfall last night. It's melting right now, but at the higher elevations, it's still gorgeous.

  11. Very touching post, and lovely tree photos!
    I'm also in the age-risk group, and nostalgic about my birth place - not a cosmopolitan big city like Stockholm, but a little town in north-east Romania.
    Those who believe in God are never alone. God helps and heals when we pray and ask Him to.

  12. Hi Inger, I completely agree with you. You wrote exactly how it is, the world has changed and it was so much different just a few weeks ago. Crazy. Who knows for how long this situation will last, hope not for too long... Hope to see you around, girl!

  13. I've shed tears a few times when seeing what is happening in Italy and around the world. We limit the tv news....we are not used to having a tv on at all but we do turn it on to see updates. I think we all remember what it was like to be a child and feel safe. It's like summer here right now and sure brings back memories of summer vacation. Take care of yourself my friend! Hugs!

  14. Glad to hear after your meltdown you are back to feeling better! :)
    We don't even have tv so don't see the news. Ken reads it on line and then tells me about it.
    The photos of the trees are beautiful.

  15. It is definitely a new feeling for me to be (just barely) in that older, more vulnerable group. Brett is further in than me. I am used to being one of the young, strong ones... I still feel young inside but I’m not really. I’m not old, yet, but Brett and I often talk about a future with one of us gone. It’s kind of unsettling, this new normal, this new age bracket.

  16. Really a thought-provoking post. Thanks for your unflinching honesty. This whole mess has made me think more about my own mortality. It also makes me think about the totally messed up world my beautiful granddaughter is inheriting. It seems to me that there are just too many people on our beautiful little planet earth. Our population has exploded at the expense of other animals, plants, and the environment. It's clearly not sustainable, and I guess we're now starting to pay the price.

  17. I am finding that I evaluate each thing that I might spend time doing with the thought "if I'm going to die soon, will I care about it at the end?". What a silly way to think but it's what rolls through my head. I have asthma, pretty badly at times, which makes me higher risk than most people my age. I think that's why I'm having these thoughts.

    Thanks for telling your story and asking this question. It allowed me to think about why my subconscious has been asking this question over and over again.

    I think that you are very safe on your mountain, just as I am on mine, but it's still scary.

  18. I am with you on so much of this. I, too, see the ads and wonder if life will ever get back to that carefree existence. I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it, but I have caught myself longing for teenage years (but with the knowledge I now have) for their freedom and responsibility for only such things a doing homework and making my bed! I worry about my children, and my friends' kids and their jobs. I worry about businesses and whether they can weather the storm. And too, I worry about our health. We are vulnerable.

  19. I see I am late as always.
    but then I get to read all the comments of the community here!
    I have COPD and congestive heart failure and AFIB
    and what seems to be essential tremor. add to that the allergies
    of living in Tornado Alley which are amazingly like the virus (without the fever)
    and the fact that I'll be 75 this summer.
    I decided to obey the rules. but I'll be darned if I'll be afraid. that's not a
    courageous attitude at all! I think it means I have nothing left to lose! LOLOL!
    like you... I've lost my family and my dear husband. but that was long ago now.
    and except for my beloved Brother who is 71 and in GREAT shape …
    it's just the two of us now! (although he has one son and wife and two boys in
    I personally think a meltdown is good every now and then. and the cry was probably
    GOOD for you! it's not a self pity cry. it's a cathartic RELEASE of all the emotion.
    I LOVE the music from the late 30's and the 40's.
    I listened to Vera Lynn singing to the troops... 'We'll Meet Again'
    and the troops all SANG with her! I cried like a baby. and then it showed her older
    and as Dame Vera Lynn and she sang one of my favorite songs... 'The White Cliffs
    of Dover." and I cried all over again.
    so you are not the only one out there crying!
    I'm not sure I could cry over a fatty fish or fish eggs though! LOL!
    BUT I understand totally about crying over the LOVE and MEMORIES of living in a time
    when that was the normal beautiful life full of hope and dreams!
    God Bless YOU darling bean. God bless you real good!
    please give Samson and Faith a huge hug for me. I MISS doggy hugs and kisses!
    and I'm worried too about Gracie. her ear surely HURTS! pain makes them not eat too!
    keep us posted about her if you can! I used to wrap a little raw hamburger
    around Zeke's pills. I could never make him swallow them any other way! XOXO

    1. HOLY COW!!! I just talked on and on and I wrote a BOOK! on your OWN blog.
      I'm Sorry everybody. and you especially Inger! even my apology is too long!

  20. Such a good post. We are all stressed at least a little. My thoughts go to my dad at the age of 19 was in the British army and captured at Dunkirk. He was held in German prison camps for 4 years! His ankle and jaw were broken. My mom grew up in Belgium. My granny was 57 when WII started. She worked with the Belgium underground hiding British and American soldiers in German occupied Belgium. Life was beyond tough for young and old. WE can do this for how ever long it takes. We do need to cry sometimes. I also live on 2 acres and it does make it a little easier....we can get out and walk. check chickens, pay a little more attention to the hawks, and enjoy the fresh air. My 76 yo hubby is doing the shopping every other week. Our son and DIL moved in last Dec. to save for a house. Hubby shops for 4. The kids both have essential jobs so they are working but it is worry some that they could get this virus. Above all, God is our comfort. This will pass. Patty McDonald

  21. Wow. I can totally understand. Up till this pandemic, I didn't really think I was "elderly". It has made me realize how vulnerable I am. I've been watching old TV shows of my youth and old movies. It's like comfort food watching simpler times. I don't watch daytime soaps but did turn one on and watched for a few minutes - they just are carrying on, as if there is no pandemic. I thought they were filmed usually in real time. I'm just DONE with all of this - but when I used to say that, I was done. This time, "done" means nothing because no one knows when this will be done. I just like saying it to myself. I am so DONE with all of this.

    Stay well.

  22. I kind of choked up reading this - how you are alone and what you went through after your husband died, and your feelings of being in that group (I am too) ... but not ready for something like that. And that longing you expressed about your memories of Sweden and all Ican say is wow, just stay healthy and as happy as possible and i think we will all get through this. I fluctuate from being fairly upbeat (I read my metaphysical books every morning, meditate and have an hour of contemplation or so and then start my day basically doingnothing. Finally our weather has cleared to somewhat sunny with no snow in sight at least for a week or two. Yesterday we got our for a walk around the lake.

  23. i enjoyed the photos also - i always like seeing what surrounds other people ....and especially nature.

  24. Inger, you write so beautifully about your feelings for Sweden and your realization that you want to return to safety. I, too, enjoy being alone. Carol and I are pretty quiet. She likes to hang out in her bedroom and I like to be in the family room, so I still have my alone time. When the pandemic is over, perhaps you can visit Sweden?


  25. Hi Inger - so late ... I too have waves of nostalgia of various stages in the old days - early home life, and Cornwall ... I expect you'll have these waves occasionally, as I do - back to when we had no worries - but like me - you're counting your blessings and the life we've managed to lead. All the best now ... with lots of thoughts - Hilary


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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