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The Case for Compassion during Corona

Why to be kind to yourself and others during a global pandemic.

Like basically everybody else in the world, I’ve now been quarantined for a little over 2 months. My companions have been my roommate, Erin, and my boyfriend, Matt, who I started dating about a month before the lockdown happened. Even though we aren’t living together (obviously), we made an agreement as soon as I got back from Guatemala at the very start of the shut down that we would only see each other for safety’s sake and only in each other’s houses. Trust me, if you want to move a relationship forward quickly and get to know each other intimately, start dating during a global pandemic… it’s a needy girl’s dream. In addition to my roommate, we also live with my dog, Dumpster Baby, and Erin’s dog, Buddy, who spend most of their time licking each other’s privates. They’ve been getting so many walks during this time that they basically run and hide whenever we get the leashes now.

Everyone has had different ways of dealing with the pandemonium, and I, like everyone else I talk to, has had their up days and their down days. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions, especially I think, for those of us that own businesses, and have no security, certainty, and really even an idea of when we’ll be able to start operating “normally” again. All of our Puff, Pass & Paint bases were closed, and at this time still are, with the exception of Denver, where we can hold private events of up to 9 guests with extreme social distancing, mask regulations, and blasting disinfectant over everything and everyone. Most of us are pretty desperate to get out into the world, and as things start to open up, we’re emerging out of our cocoons with a whole new set of attitudes, fears, and coping skills. Some of us are still terrified, some of us are indifferent, some of us are pissed AF. Things feel unfair, and we aren’t wrong… they are. All of this sucks.

I’ve noticed in both myself and others that with all of the other emotions floating around like bacteria in the air, fuses have been short. One day I screamed at a testy customer service rep simply because I needed to yell at someone, and she screamed back, and then I sobbed, none of which I was proud of or is typical of me. Even with my daily dose of meditation, yoga, and 5mg of Lexapro upon waking up, I feel like I’ve been teetering on the brink of mental sanity, and anything could (and has) set me off. But I’ve also been doing my very best to stay sane and calm whenever possible, and also to make sure I reach out to friends or family, my roommate, or my boyfriend (who is the best possible sport) if I’m feeling that it’s an especially dark day.

To ask for help isn’t an easy task, especially if it’s for mental health and a listening ear, which can feel like a very vulnerable and even embarrassing quest. I’m usually one to just bury my feelings under the rug (have you heard the term “junk drawer”? It may be a midwestern thing, but it’s a messy drawer for catch-all shit… out of sight, out of mind, right?), but I’ve been trying to feel them fully and embrace the helplessness and uncertainty that we’ve all been feeling. I wondered aloud to my therapist if I was smoking too much weed during this time to dull my emotions, and she said “emotions are high right now, so I’m not surprised you want to dull them. As long as you’re still able to perform your daily tasks and it’s not affecting your mental or physical health in a bad way, I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it.” So, I’ve kept smoking lots of weed, with a margarita or a glass of wine thrown in, and lots of snacks, snacks, snacks.

I’ve also been trying my best to be kind to other people during this time, of course with the exception of Michelle from Comcast, who I did apologize to after my breakdown. On the days I’m feeling happy and energized, I reach out to friends and family who might be having a tough day, especially those that live alone, own struggling business, have lost their jobs, or are extreme extroverts who desperately crave connection. I recently read an article from a physician who stated that suicide attempts for the last 4 weeks have been a larger number than the entire year before, and I get it… even the present is uncertain and the future is a great gaping hole, and it’s kind of hard to wrap our minds around what plague comes next after sickness and murder hornets. Things can seem desolate. I feel you.

There are a lot of varying opinions regarding keeping things closed and opening them up, wearing masks and going bare-faced, freaking out and closing down, fear and flaunting, but I have noticed a general movement of kindness, consideration, and a “we’re all in this together” mentality because hell, you guys… we’re all in this together. We can’t get away from each other, even if we desperately try. I’ve learned to smile at people from behind my masks using just my eyes, and I see others trying to do it too. I’m more friendly to my cashier at Target, the dispensary, and the liquor store than I’ve ever been before (those are the only places I go now), and I hear other people asking about their days as well. My roommate and I do a check-in every morning to see how each other is feeling, and even if I’m having a high-anxiety morning, I know that I have someone to talk to without fear of judgment, because she’s going through the shit, too.

In an effort to remain positive and keep a lot of laughter in my life, I’ve been watching a lot of stand up comedy lately, and one of my favorite comedians, Patton Oswalt, has a quote from his late wife Michelle Mcnamara, who was a true crime writer: “it’s chaos, be kind.” And fuck, I love that, because it does feel like chaos out there, and there are a million ways to deal with it. Remember that dark days are normal for both yourselves and others, and try to have compassion for everybody struggling… including you. It’s chaos, be kind. I’m still here, glad you are too.

Heidi Keyes is the Founder of Puff, Pass & Paint, and Co-Founder & President of Cannabis Tours. Heidi writes about her experiences, sharing her advice, travel tips, and wisdom in Puff, Pass Ponder.


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