Lockdown- Learning to play the violin ain't gonna get you through this


You've been locked down...that has repercussions

Probably most of you have never been locked up before ( for lack of a better definition of our situation). I on the other hand have been to jail and been in a psychiatric hospital ( stories from long ago, for another time). You are not in either of those situations, per say, but depending on where you live in the U.S. you are for all intents and purposes - under house arrest. In regards to your mental health and stress, it might actually be more difficult to deal with this because you did not do anything personally to end up in lock-down, and you don't know when it will end.

Let's see if maybe my experience can't give you a little more grounding than vapid articles recommending something on Netflix or telling you to take up the violin, hmm?

Best thing I can do is give you a heads up about what to expect from yourself and maybe managing your expectations will help a bit.

You ARE going to lose your shit at some point

The timeline and degree and duration of this rattling you mentally is different for everyone. But understand this- Human beings are social animals, your brain is not wired for restricted movement or solitude. Add onto that the stress of this situation in general, add onto that not being able to see people you care about, add onto that financial stress, add onto that not knowing when it will end…any one of these things is taxing, all of these things at once can profoundly erode your mental state.

Can you keep your sh*t together for a few weeks? maybe. A month? That's much less likely and beyond that...eventually, everyone breaks.

You ARE going to get irritable, you are going to have moments where your ability to reasons is…let's say... less than it's full form. You're going to get anxiety, angry, dissolute, depressed. Do you best to realize the things going on in your head are stress and situation related…understand that is the root and source. You are human, you have your limitations.

You are going to take shit out on other people, and other people are going to take shit out on you. In the heat of the moment this will all seem justified, after words it will all seem cruel or uncalled for. Just remember it is the stress and situation. Remember that when people are venting on you, and remember that when you start venting on someone else. They don't have it coming, you didn't have it coming…it's just the situation and stress and anxiety.

On the further end of things

You not being able to process what's going on, losing your grip to one degree or another, may for some also be around the corner...this is usually fleeting, and understanding that you're not actually going insane, but that your brain can only process so much, will help you get through it faster.

Nervous breakdowns are scary, you feel like you are in the passenger seat of your own brain with someone else at the wheel going 100 mph. They don't last forever, they pass. Closing your eyes and taking long deep breaths helps, but don't expect it to be easy to get yourself to do that. There are different schools of thought on this, but often it's best if you have that breakdown in private.

You can purge or you can exceed critical mass and destruct

There is a long held axiom on psychology- anger that is held in turns into depression-. Keep an eye on that. You can't just hold emotions in and think they will go away. They will not, they will fester and in some cases turning into something else. Even mediation has it's limits. You have a phone? Call someone and rant and rave, or go into the garage and yell. Do whatever ( that does NOT harm anyone OR harm yourself) to exhaust that energy. That energy will not just go away, you have to release it.

This is next suggestion is not entirely cool, but it's pragmatic- if you notice yourself getting edgy, call someone you haven't talked to in awhile. Two reasons for this- One, they have not been with you every day, so a change that has been gradual and unnoticed by the people you live with will jump right out at them. Two...if you lose your shit at some guy from high school...who cares? It won't ruin your marriage, freak out your kids, or end a relationship. I'm being pragmatic here, it won't be the worst thing for him/her to shout back at someone or hang up the phone and be able to focus on what a jackass you are, instead of dwelling on all the things he/she was dwelling on.

This is an ugly situation...pleasant remedies are in short supply if not out right fiction.

It would be good to let the people you are around through this know as well. Life is about expectations. If you give people warning "hey, I might start getting buggy at some point, I might say some things I don't mean" That's going to go along way towards relaxing you, because you know you don't have to bottle things up, and relax them if you start getting screwy here or there. It could be the difference between harsh words ending a relationship and harsh words ending in a long pause and then both sides laughing out loud.

You need to give your mind new input

How long you been looking at the same pictures on the wall? Had the furniture in the same configuration? You want the walls to stop closing in on you? Change what's on them, change what's against them. Change the view that you see every time you wake up.

And change you clothes, I don't mean put on fresh clothes, I mean change what you are wearing. You know what guys talk about most in jail, in regards to getting out? It's not who they are going to f*ck, believe it or not, it's about what they are going to wear once they can finally stop wearing orange every day. You wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants for the past three weeks, that is YOUR orange jumpsuit. Your brain is connecting that to this whole unpleasant situation. Dress up a couple times a week, give your clothes a schedule, let your brain see something new when you look in the mirror.

You move around more than you realize

I've got a older relative who will remain nameless who retired...but got bored with it, so he got a part time job greeting people for a business. He used to wear one of those things that tracks how far you've walked in a day. The difference between not having a job, and having a job not even doing too much was 3-5 miles a day! That 3-5 miles of walking just from the car to work, to the break-room, to the bathroom...people put on a lot more miles than they realize just having a regular job. You are stuck at home...what do you think that drop in "exercise" is doing to you? Nothing good. I'm not even talking about you physical health (although you need to keep that in mind) the mind and body are connected, and your mind can blow off a lot of steam, and sort out a lot of things while you're on your way from one task to another.

The movies would have you believe that in jail everyone gets their exercise in some bad ass looking yard with chipped up Olympic weights and cast iron weight benches. Some of that's true...but I've seem my share of guys just doing laps walking around in the general area. Sometimes alone some times together, just walking the circumference of the room, maybe doing figure 8's in and out around the tables. It's a lot easier to start coming unglued if you are just sitting and thinking, than if you are pacing and thinking. It's all about burning up energy.

"Don't watch the monsters"

I shouldn't need to say this but, turn off the fcking news. It is disgusting panic porn and nothing more. The clickbait headlines, the talking heads, it exists to make money, and it is making money by scaring the sht out of you. Seeing footage of bodies being loaded into a truck by a forklift...is that there to inform you? No...it is keep you watching so they make money. It is vile and morally bankrupt. and on a side note, (knowing a mortician or two) how the fuq did they think a city the population of NY empties it's morgue? Two coroners side by side walking the bodies down the stairs like "weekend at Bernie's"?

Stay away from that crap. and if you do feel compelled to check in on things...make sure you find a story from each side of things. There are experts out there with a completely different out look than the experts acting like the world is coming to an end. Make sure to balance one with the other. Aside from the obvious reason...If you feed your brain one perspective on things, it has nothing to do but dwell on that, but give it two perspectives and your brain now has semi productive task- to try to reconcile the two different opinions.

Anyways...hopefully some of this helps.

The most important thing here to remember is, for the tiny amount of you who may come to this point...do not harm yourself, do not harm anyone else. You have the right to call the police on yourself and tell them you are worried that you might harm yourself, that you need to got to a psychiatric hospital. Look, not much difference at this point between being stuck there for a couple days or stuck at home, except that you are safe there. It's not like the movies where they can lock up forever and pump you full of drugs. It'll be a 2-3 day time out (depending on the state you live in) and it can save your life. and given the current state of the world...no one is going to look at you sideways about slipping off the tracks. Take it from someone who's slipped off the tracks once or twice...people are just glad you are okay, and then they forget the whole thing and go back to their own problems.

Me, myself, personally, I'm a bit mentally stymied. I spend a lot of time with that spinning wheel going as my brain tries to process all of this. How some other people can continue with creative endeavors during all this is beyond me, but that'll come back on line at some point.

you can always find me at my homepage stop by and read some comics if the mood strikes you



You've seen and been through much. Your experiences and observations have relevance for these times. I tend to agree, most people are treating this as weird sort of holiday. But they have not been bitten by the march of time or true hardship yet... which is to come.

There is not just one crisis in progress globally, but many, all interwoven because of the connected globalised world that has been built. We may have restrictions lifted some time soonish, but the other monsters are waiting in the wings. Or worse still, some of these monsters might start crashing the current crisis party before its over. From pandemic to pandemonium to hell.

This article has a good take on the situation.
How to Fortify the Mind in Times of Crisis

This video also resonated with me.

Alive Time or Dead Time: You Choose If This Time Is Productive Or Not | Ryan Holiday | Stoicism

For me, my creativity and productivity are my cornerstones. Out of crisis, there is the opportunity to build something new, a break through rather than a breakdown.

Creativity and

Learning to play the violin ain't gonna get you through this

How about playing the piano? I've been doing a bit of that.

Honestly this whole thing has been a much-needed break for me. I love isolation. I once took a a year off and I'd only use the car once every three weeks. Granted, I'm lucky to live in such a private and beautiful spot, where I can go on a 5 mile run without encountering anyone. I guess it would be harder if I were stuck in a city apartment.

Not that it isn't stressful. After investing about $20,000 in improvements to a rental property, our summer bookings are completely gone. Depending on how long this goes on, we could be in some serious financial trouble.

Along with the rest of the world, though.

Don't know how people with kids are doing it. But then, I know I'm just not wired to have kids in the first place. If I hadn't murdered my children by now, this would be the month...

Anyway, this article is full of great advice. I love the phrase "panic porn." And as for managing expectations, I've always kept mine low, so I'm thrilled several times a day.

I can't tell if you're trolling or not, but if not...no one wants to hear about how you could afford to take a year off and had 20,000 laying around to spend on your rental property.

Sorry if the comment came off as tone deaf. I actually worked my ass off to afford that time off... 12 years without a break, the last eight in a job that left me feeling I could kill myself now or I could use my savings to try and do something different and if it doesn't work out, then kill myself. At the end of it I found a job I love, but I've been working there for two years without a vacation. So, now, a break.

As for the rental property, the money wasn't "lying around." There are mortgages and credit card bills now and a hell of a lot of interest that's going to sink us because we needed to replace the windows before the rest of the glass fell out, and now there's no income, even though we only borrowed the money because we had the season completely booked. We took what seemed like a reasonable risk on a business venture and it looks like it was a mistake. We tried to take the fruits of our labor and turn it into something more, but this virus has really knocked the legs out from under that plan.

I was just trying to focus on the positive of having a little mental breathing space at the moment. And a chance to be away from people, because I actually enjoy isolation.

I know everyone else is in the shit just like we are, and without a lot of the advantages we've had. Doesn't mean I can't try and feel a little bit of pleasure at the circumstances, at least until the walls come crashing down.

In any case I really enjoy your work. I hope you can find the inspiration to keep creating in the current climate, and keep the anxiety at bay.

I'm no fan of class envy. I begrudge no one their success whether it was earned, stolen, of inherited...but yeah "tone deaf" is a perfect term here.
better you'd have added some extra advice of empathy than anecdotes about how you're able to look at the bright side.
anyways...me crapping on your comment is a tad counter productive towards the goal of the blog, LOL.
Glad you like my work, I'll do my best to muddle through the stress and put out more.

Dude, thank you for taking the time to get this info formatted into a post, it's a really good read. Mental health is an elephant in the room on a "normal" day. Hearing about how to cope with this situation from a person who's walked a few miles in those shoes, instead of a professional expert in front of a camera, it makes a difference.

There is a long held axiom on psychology- anger that is held in turns into depression-. Keep an eye on that. You can't just hold emotions in and think they will go away. They will not, they will fester and in some cases turning into something else.

Personal experience tells me to agree with that notion. We gotta take out that hostile energy, or it will take us out. Thanks again for sharing 🙂

Hopefully it helps, I hadn't seen anything posted by "experts" that was actually useful.