Being in Quarantine is Traumatic

Kunduz hospital air strike 2015. Not comparing quarantine to war, I just know people feel like this picture. I sure do some days.

I’m a person who’s heavily focused on productivity and growth, and the quarantine is constantly grinding against my willpower. It’s been 27 days since they closed nonessential businesses, so that’s 27 days I’ve had no steady income. We’ve canceled every order and every account that isn’t essential. My amazing wife has spent weeks on calls and online contacting creditors, lenders, and account managers, digging endlessly through city, state, and local guidelines and websites, deciphering baffling legalese to try to find any assistance possible. Like many small business owners, we’re skating on thin ice.

Despite all of that, this isn’t the time to panic. This also isn’t the time to stay positive and reflect on life either. The fact is, the business closures and quarantine is traumatic. We’ve all had our daily routines completely disrupted, with no promise when it will return to normal, if ever. We’re in financial limbo. We’ve been stripped of our livelihoods and I’m basically forbidden from practicing the craft I’ve practiced for 22 years. It’s a 180° shift from what we’re accustomed to.

I don’t say this to pound negativity at you, I say this to outline the reality of the situation. Recognizing it for what it truly is is the only way to be able to learn to cope with it. Any effort that isn’t grounded in the severity of this truth will only be a mask to cover it. You can’t cover up trauma, you have to confront it and reconcile it. And the truth is, a lot of trauma can’t be reconciled until it’s over. This is ongoing.

Look, I’m not trying to say people need to give up hope, or stop trying to find the good amidst the bad, because doing those things is essential at all times. I’m saying we can’t abandon our real time experience in favor of an idealistic concept of the growth we will experience, or the opportunities we will find. We can look toward growth and opportunity as a result of what we’re going through, but we can’t skip the step of experience.

That means you need to let yourself feel this, and process it. Don’t indulge in it, but feel it and process it. Sometimes that could mean you cry, maybe a lot. Or you are angry, maybe all day. You might be irritable, depressed, anxious. You could be feeling abandoned, helpless, frightened. These are normal feelings right now.

Getting through this isn’t about filling your head with catchphrases. It’s about existing within this framework you’ve been forced into, and doing your best through it. Whether you’re feeling highs or lows, experience them and remind yourself that as long as you try and you don’t give up, it will improve at some point.

Look, this is likely far from over. There will be ups and downs as we move forward, and it will probably feel like there’s no going back at times. In a way, there is no going back. Things will fundamentally change. Don’t long for how things were, or spend time wishing, because that’s not reality. Stop thinking about how your plans for the year are messed up. There’s no choice but to roll with the punches and reevaluate our actions as we go.

I had a lot of plans this year. We were finally recouping from a rocky 2019, both personally and professionally. I had finally started revisiting major business plans I’ve had on the back burner for years, and had been getting side projects in order. It’s all been completely derailed, and now I’m just in survival mode. All that while still trying to think of my employees, family, and friends.

But I’ll roll with the punches. We don’t really have a choice, because this is what we have. Damn straight I’m going to have some breakdowns, and lose my temper, and air out my frustration and sense of disappointment. We’re entitled to that, and we don’t have to shove it down to show how hard we grind or hustle, or how the strong don’t do that or some other macho bullshit. Shove it up your ass. These are hard times, and we are allowed to admit it in full, and how it’s affecting us on a personal level.

And then I’ll get up and do what I can. Some days it won’t be much, and I’ll be kind and forgive myself. Because right now, we all need kindness and compassion more than we need motivation.

Sometimes we face challenges not because we’re capable of overcoming, but because we have no choice.

I know where you can put your false positivity

I’ve been on home restriction for 20 days, and I’ve been promised at least 25 more. Now isn’t the time to lose our shit and spiral into depression and aggressive behavior. It’s also not the time to polish up our smiles and act like this is positive, or to downplay the severity of the situation.

I’ve been watching it happen nonstop for days now. People trying to spin crisis, people trying to create opportunities from devastation. And a shit ton of people saying that mindset will save you.

Nothing is changing what’s happening, and cheery positivity is a slap in the face of the sick and dying. You motherfuckers need to learn what stoicism is, and learn how to read a situation and apply proper behavior. Right now, total positivity is an intentional detachment from reality. Total negativity is an attachment TO reality. Both are bad.

Since it’s easy to understand and sympathize with those having a difficult time overcoming the negative, I’m using this blog post to confront the positive. Yeah, you heard me. And I’m going to target by my own boxed and defined labels of the type of person and form of positivity they push.

The Marketer

These are the ads you’re getting pitched that try to appeal to the situation. “Times are hard, here’s 40% off.”

Come on, dude. 40% off your bullshit socks or shoes or discount furniture isn’t what people need right now. You don’t give a shit about how hard times are for others, you’re worried about your drop in sales. It’s a legitimate concern, but it’s a transparent ploy.

You may also see these guys pushing a product or service with the pitch written in a way to make it sound like said product or service will help elevate you beyond the crisis at hand, and give you some sort of strength in the face of adversity. This is using dishonesty and the vulnerability of the public to sell.

I get it. My business is closed and my income is gone, so I need to sell everything I can. And when I post something for sale, it’s known that’s the reason why. And when I say I care, I offer myself to vent, to talk to, and I share my own experiences through this ordeal to help others. That’s what caring is. Caring isn’t 40% off shower fixtures.

The Guru

Everyone knows this guy. This is the person who maintains that a positive mindset is what will pull you through. All you need to do is find the silver lining and then throw out the cloud.

Trick, please. A positive mindset is something that’s difficult work when shit is normal. We’re in a god damn meltdown right now, you think people can just think positive? If this isn’t something you’re already real fuckin good at, now’s not the time you’re going to master it.

I don’t discount the effects of positive thinking, and I am a huge advocate of pragmatic optimism. Finding the good in a situation is essential in everything. However, you have to acknowledge the situation before you look for the good. And when you look for the good, you also have to assess how bad it is or could become.

Mindset doesn’t stop the pain and grief of loss, and that’s what so many people are experiencing, and will experience over the coming months. Encouraging people to fix their mindset is essentially telling them to shove aside their feelings. You can’t halt emotions, you have to work through them. If you don’t, you risk causing long term damage to your psyche.

That said, you have to try to find the best out of every situation, because if you don’t, you’ll be crushed by existential dread.

The Hustler

THIS guy. This is the person telling you to look at this as an opportunity, instead of the disaster that it really is. This approach comes off cold to me. They drastically understate what’s happening, and instead encourage you to find ways to capitalize.

Not that I’m opposed to capitalizing! Like I said, I need to sell right now, and find ways to support my family amidst a crisis. However, I won’t be painting this as an opportunity. I won’t call it an opportunity. You know what word goes along with opportunity and disaster? Opportunist. And nobody likes an opportunist.

Look, I want and NEED to stay productive, and utilize everything at my disposal to find any advantage I can use. I think we all need that, because so many of us are struggling, but we also need to do it in a way that is beneficial to others. There’s still bills to pay and a pantry to keep full, but that’s everyone’s story right now.


I don’t think that any of these people are bad people. None of this is casting dispersions on their character. What this is shining light on is the importance of the language we use.

The normal way we communicate with our audience is in the shitter right now. We can’t just push our brand and our message the way we normally would. We have to reframe our message, our content, and the words we use in order to maintain honesty, integrity, and to basically not look like a douchebag.

This is a time that presents challenges to the individuals, the businesses, and the entire infrastructure of our society. It’s something none of us have experienced, and hopefully never will again. Stop pushing narratives that ignore the serious struggles we’re going to face if our economy continues to slip, and we remain under shelter in place orders. It’s insulting to people’s intelligence.

Instead of pushing shiny optimism, let’s acknowledge the difficulties ahead with pragmatic positivity. What that means is that we first accept what is happening as being the current reality. There’s going to be a best case and a worst case scenario. You’re not getting either one of them. But as long as you’re not getting the worst, you’re doing okay, even if it’s bad.

The fact is, sometimes life is shit. And right now is that sometimes. Don’t candy coat it, just focus on trying to get the best outcome from each punch in the mouth. The hits keep coming, and if you’re home bound and unable to work, we’re just getting started. But keep rolling with the punches. They’re going to come whether you accept it or not, and spending time wallowing just means you’re getting hit without putting up a fight.

And if anyone is ignoring what’s happening and pushing some form of “everything is fine/positive mindset/THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY” stuff, take it with a grain of salt. They’re most likely just trying to cope with this the only way they know how.