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What Covid Was Like in NYC in 2020: Updates from a Quarantined Brooklynite

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
New York State Department of Health

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Hi everyone,

I have not been well. Today I am telling you, I am not okay.

I know you may be looking for more inspirational stories online. And that’s fine. Feel free to read something else. I’m posting this for myself, as a sort of digital diary. It is not meant as a cry for help, because I am getting help in some small ways. But I needed to write this down as a record of what it’s like right now, my self-isolated life in Brooklyn today after months of dealing with depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

While we are all dealing with this current crisis in our own ways, I wanted to share my experience and my thoughts.

First off, let me just say, I am physically healthy right now. But this crisis is confounding my already fragile mental health. I do not know if I have contracted the virus (I haven’t asked for a test, and am still pretty confused on how/where I could or should get a test anyways), but for the last several days like many of my friends, I have been in self-quarantine mode out of caution for myself and for others.

a photo of me from early last week before things took a dramatic turn

I know we’re all in a pretty weird place right now. Every day is a new challenge. Our society is changing by the hour. And while I am doing my part to participate in social distancing and to self-quarantine, this crisis has exacerbated many problems I was already struggling with in the months prior.

For the past 6 months, I’ve been dealing with depression, anxiety, and loneliness. And, thankfully, just in the past few weeks, I was finally beginning to make some headway with it and make some positive changes in my life. But all of that has come crashing down in a matter of days. It’s hard to fathom depression during this quarantine crisis.

My therapist had previously quite literally advised me to make new friends, to meet people, and to engage in social activities. Going out and staying busy was my mantra. And I was doing it. I was even starting to travel for work again (and even actually kind of enjoying it again, too).

Obviously, that’s all changed. And I’m kind of at a loss on what to do next.

I get it. I know my problems are my own, and please know that I am doing my part to help for the greater good. But self-isolation, the lack of any physical interaction whatsoever, a likely upcoming shelter in place—it is going to have an incredible toll on my well-being. It already has. And likely for many others in similarly vulnerable states, as well.

And while so many are being strong right now, and sharing messages of hope, I can’t help but be afraid. I’m afraid of a future I do not know, afraid of how I’m going to make ends meet, afraid of how I will be able to withstand this new normal (even if it’s temporary). I’m sorry if I’m grim, but I am not okay.

The loneliness is going to be very hard for me. But that’s not all of it.

This crisis has absolutely upended my entire industry. Everyone who works in tourism (millions of people) has been affected, as have many in most industries. Bars, restaurants, entertainment venues—by now, we all know they’ve been affected. There have been lay-offs and there will be more.

So many friends and acquaintances are unable to work because of the shutdowns, unable to pay their bills because they can’t work. Some are trapped abroad, away from their loved ones, confused and unable to find a safe way home.

Myself, as a travel writer, marketer, and yes, an influencer—I’ve lost just about every source of income. Projects have been canceled or indefinitely delayed. I do not have much hope they will come back this year.

I know there are heroes still working in the health and service industries to keep our cities running and our society as healthy as it can be. And I am honestly trying not to focus on my work in tourism, but it’s also just really hard for myself to envision any kind of future.

As a self-employed freelancer who makes my money from contracts with various travel companies or through freelance writing gigs, this crisis has completely devastated my income.

Not only have I lost most of my upcoming work, my regular passive income from advertising and running this site has dropped 80%. Imagine an 80% drop in your salary? That’s what I’m seeing today, with little to no prospect to make enough money in the coming weeks or months to cover my rent and bills.

Even if the travel industry rebounds in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months (who knows?!), all this time/money will be lost.

Here’s a helpful thread about the state of the travel blog industry (click through for the full thread):

I know we’re supposed to be hopeful and supportive to keep our society running in this new normal. But honestly, I am struggling right now. I think a lot of us are. Like many others in my generation, I don’t have enough savings and very little upcoming income, to weather this. No idea what’s going to happen next.

I’m scared and I’m still sad. I’m anxious and I’m still lonely. By random coincidence, I’m extra lonely while my roommate is self-quarantined out of the city.

I’m trying my best to see the positive; that’s why I’m writing these words out with the intention to actually publish. It’s cathartic for me to put words to paper. Two weeks ago I was so optimistic about my future, so glad to be on the mend. And then as soon as things escalated, my life, my livelihood, my emotions—it all crashed.

I’m old enough to remember the 2008 financial crisis. I was just barely out of college. And while I was lucky to survive that recession, it left a lasting impact on my life. (More on that later.)

With that experience still fresh in my memory, it’s so hard to witness this all happening now. Like that recession, life felt so difficult then. But I was also young then and so full of optimism.

Today, with all the other shit happening in my personal life, I feel a little less optimistic and a lot more despondent. It’s not just myself that’s hurting right now, it’s so many people so close to me.

I’m scared and I’m afraid. Of this virus and whatever it’s going to do to the economy, to our society. I know we should try to not be afraid, but I am. I am acknowledging I am not okay and with that acknowledgement, I hope I can start focusing again on the things that will help.

Asking for help has become a familiar trait for myself, and I assume for many others right now, too. Today, I’m not asking for your help except for you to listen to me, my worries, and to acknowledge my precarious position. As the world changes around us, let’s all please try to stay safe and spread compassion and friendliness where and when we can.

I’ll have a lot more to share in the coming weeks, and I’ll do my best to get better. Thanks for following along, as always.

Much love,