Symptoms of Quarantine
By Seth Nicholls
Today, I’m writing about fear. Today, I’m writing about worry. Today, I’m writing about gossiping to myself about so many terrible outcomes that the worst timeline seems. Inescapable fear buzzes on and on like a tempest of locusts as closure comes to the epidemic that shook the world. We all went through months of cramped madness, our dreams wracked with impatience and isolation, our internal clocks run rancid with rust, and just all around having a shitty time, man. This is a retrospective article on how bullshit quarantine was, and some vague gesture at a listicle of the symptoms I caught during that terrible time.
Let me out
Reverse Eric Andre out here, am I right? That meme is already dead when I’m writing this so I’m more than sure I’ll regret it more than ever when I see it on the publishing stand. Hey Future Seth, go fuck yourself! The horrid sluggishness dragged me down into the cramped shadow of my apartment. A lot of progress was undone in those few months as I was locked into a bubbling little cauldron of self-loathing and abject terror. My confinement made me mad. Think about how tigers and other wild things must feel stuck in a zoo. My confinement made me think of cold windowless bunkers as bombs whistled through the air outside. My confinement made me think of the upside-down witching-hour-dark strangulation in an underground cave, my flashlight lying shattered and dead beneath me.
A few weeks into quarantine I began to feel as if the windshield I saw the world through became slowly cracked and smeared with bug-guts. The curtains stayed shut as I slept through the days like a coiled, hairless bear. Slowly the calendar's ink began to run off its paper and the whole water-clogged mess just slipped off its nail on the wall. When you start to double check what day of the week it is, you know it’s gotten bad. When you forget how many weeks you’ve been in quarantine, you know it's gotten worse. When you check what month it is thrice in the same day, you know that shit is fucked.
Super lonely, broski
Ah, the utterly dreadful isolation. In the depths of quarantine, there is the aching of detachment from the outside world. Even with online systems to keep contact with friends, the growing distance strengthened a foul chokehold upon me. Without a new smile or a familiar face the same set of three grew old and withered in my mind’s eye. I begged the heavens for some change in pace, but all I was given was the stuttering pixelated boxes of Zoom meeting coworkers upon my screen. It feels so uncannily good to meet up with people again. To laugh with them. To share stories with them. To call them shit-heads to their faces. Feels so good, man.
The fuck-all directive
When I first went into quarantine, I descended into a pit devoid of all motivation for a frankly terrifyingly long amount of time. I thought I would pursue all the writing projects and artistic endeavours that I could imagine but as you can probably guess, I was not impacted by any inspiration so holy as that. Wrought with an unending urge to sleep and laze about, I found myself unable to exert any passion. I was even worse off when trying to actually do proper work. University work. That shit I need to do in order to stay in school. My brain just goes “no knowledge please” and plays bass-boosted elevator music for the next 3 months. This ungodly psychological drought carried on through my assignments and my exam season. Thank god for disrupted study, right?
I’m not entirely sure what to say in this conclusion, to be honest. I should have planned for it before I started writing this piece. Fuck it, I can make this motivational. Quarantine was utter trash. We all know that already. We all went through it. I write this piece today to find some commonality with you, the enraptured and very entertained reader, in a time in our lives when we felt caged off from the entire world. To share in our lamentations.
In the end, our suffering was healthy for our country and therefore ourselves. The defense against a virus which, at time of writing, still rips through the organs of innocents overseas. We can feel secure that at least our troubles meant something. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore those burning mental symptoms just because they are outweighed by a more horrific viral alternative. Be sure to search out any counselling services that you may need, even if just for a check-up.
A thousand blessings upon all us fools. Love you, AUT.