Depression, Coronavirus, and Flashbacks

Easter came real close to Beltane this year. There is hardly time to catch our breath and then, boom!

Beltane is the worst day of the year for me. I think there are several reasons this is so.

First of all, it was a really big deal. It’s the opposite of Halloween, which was also a really big deal. Both are really ancient holidays, and there are layers and layers of symbolism and tradition. And both were multi-day holidays.

Also, they occurred on the same day each year. This means that the anniversary reactions piled up rather than being spread out over a matter of days, as happens with Easter.

On a more personal note, it was the first ritual I attended. What an impact that had!!! Also, almost two decades later, the last, I might add. 

It will be really interesting to see what happens this year, between being depressed and having reacted so minimally to all the other holidays over the last year. 

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I’m feeling marginally better because I have taken steps to add on a supplementary medication. I contacted my primary care physician, and she said she would prescribe for me and chose Lexapro. I checked the side effects and medication interactions, we discussed my findings and decided it was best to check with my cardiologist first. I wrote him but haven’t heard back yet. Waiting is hard.

Nothing has happened yet, but the machinery has been set in motion. That, in itself, makes me feel less helpless. Except that as soon as I felt 1% better I started second-guessing myself. “Am I over-reacting? Maybe I’m not depressed after all. Maybe I’m doing this just to get some attention. I haven’t been getting much attention recently, which is great, because I don’t want attention. Oh wait, that’s a sign of depression – just leave me alone!!!!” Going around in circles can take all day.

I want to point out that all of this (depression, a world-wide virus, social isolation, more depression) involves a constant background chatter of flashbacks. Everything reminds me of something from the past. (I suppose that comes with having a long life!) Usually, it’s a feeling-flashback. I have felt this way before, many times before.

Here’s a dream I had last night that illustrates how the coronavirus and the cult merge together in my mind.

I dreamed that I was in the hospital with a really bad case of the virus and was writhing in pain. In the dream, I had a flashback to being tortured. I was begging for them to stop hurting me and screaming that I would do anything if they only would stop, anything they wanted. While I was pleading for the pain to stop, I was also deeply ashamed of myself and fearful of what they would make me do. It was a pretty awful dream made worse because it was triggered by present-day pain from arthritis, which then kept me awake. The dream kept circling through my mind for a few hours until I fell back into a fitful sleep.

How many times, as a child, did I feel hopeless, with no desire to live? I can’t possibly tell you. It wasn’t a one-time event; it was a constant state of mind. How many times did I feel distant from other people, forbidden to touch them? Constantly. Moment after moment, day after day, year after year. Today, I feel hopeless thanks to the depression. I feel isolated from others, like an alien, thanks to, well, being isolated from others for protection against coronavirus. This is very familiar territory.

Coronavirus, however, is a different experience for the vast majority of us. We have never lived through a pandemic and have no idea what to expect. This tiny little bit of almost-life started infecting humans only a few months ago. There has been nothing like it in my life, except perhaps for polio, which didn’t affect my daily life.

If I had been alive during days of the Spanish flu, I would be having lots of flashbacks to those days. People were terrified. My mother was twelve at the time, my father was ten. I don’t remember either of them talking about it. Looking back, anything to do with their childhood either was not to be mentioned or was presented as misinformation.

For example, I had always believed that my mother’s parents and her sister all died in 1918 during the flu epidemic. My mother was without any immediate relatives and started college alone. I figured she had a good reason to be depressed. Because I was not allowed to doubt what I was told or to ask questions, it didn’t occur to me that she was too young to enter college.

When I started researching, however, I found that my grandfather died in 1927, and my aunt died of the flu in 1920. (At the moment, I cannot find the date of my grandmother’s death.) My mother was born in 1906, which meant that she graduated high school in 1923 and that her father was alive when she graduated from college. The reality is a lot less dramatic than the myth.

Like most people, I wanted to find validation for what I believed. Yet what I learned was that my beliefs about my family were a myth. In a sense, this was a relief because the things I had been told didn’t quite seem to make sense to me, and I felt less crazy with the revised version. I guess you work with what you have at the time and adapt, as needed, to changing perceptions of the truth.

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Upcoming Holidays

April
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

May 
5/1 Beltane
5/7 Full moon
5/10 Mothers’ Day
5/12 Armed Forces Day
5/25 Memorial Day
5/31 Pentecost

June
6/5 Full moon
6/5-6 Penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will turn a shade darker during the maximum phase, visible in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Most penumbral lunar eclipses cannot be easily distinguished from a usual full moon. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-june-5
6/19 Summer solstice
6/21 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Annular solar eclipse. Visible from parts of Africa (including the Central African Republic, Congo, and Ethiopia), south of Pakistan, northern India, and China. Partial eclipse is visible in south/east Europe, much of Asia, the north of Australia, and much of Africa, Pacific, Indian Ocean. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-june-21
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 St. John’s Day

 

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

4/20 Hitler’s birthday
4/21  Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)
4/29 Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

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