Pandemic Brain

Tomorrow marks 7 weeks in home isolation for me. As of today, the US remains ahead of the rest of the world with 824K cases and 45K deaths. My home state of Massachusetts is holding down the number 3 spot in the country, while my home county is holding down that number 3 spot within the state.

(Here’s a screengrab of Google’s stats dashboard for corroboration and context.)

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 8.12.33 PM

And I am still incredibly fortunate. Every few days brings more individuals in my extended friends circle who have contracted the disease, but so far they have all been able to recover—and recover at home. And (knock wood) everyone in my immediate family remains healthy and safe in their different homes and locations.

So, really, no legitimate reasons to complain.

And yet, I gotta say it: I’m not doing as well as I was when this all started.

Even that feels excessive to say.

I mean: I’m not in crisis. No anxiety attacks, no obsessive worrying about my health or the health of those I love, no angry or crying outbursts. I’m even secure enough in the reality of spring pollen season that I haven’t needed any “reassurance research” about my sneezing and sniffles.

It’s just that everything feels a little bit sideways. Like I’m swimming through a bit of fog with everything I do.


It’s that little bit tougher to get logged in at work. Just that much harder to stay on task and do stretches of focused, high quality work. And once I clock out of “the office,” I’ve been next to useless in my evening and weekend hours.*

I’m watching a lot of TV.** Playing a lot of a new (well, new-to-me) trivia game on my phone. I’m not doing so well at folding the laundry or even at having enough neural power to read my beloved Shakespeare.

I finally started admitting this to co-workers today. I’m not catastrophically behind on anything, but I definitely have some folks waiting on me for things. And I’m sure I’ll get there. But I just wanted to acknowledge that I haven’t been at the top of my game this past week or so.

I’m calling it “pandemic brain,” for lack of any better explanation.

I don’t know if I actually feel better now that I’m owning this little bit of truth. If nothing else, it takes less effort to vulnerable and honest about my mental state, rather than continuing to push and pretend that everything’s okay.

Considering how I’m already feeling off-kilter with my brain power, releasing that little bit of cognitive load may just turn out to be worth it.


* A fact that was likely already evident due to my paltry pace of writing here.

** Network & cable series. DVRed content. Blu-rays. YouTube programming piped through an AppleTV app. Lots of content providers, but all being piped through the same big screen in the house…


Image credit: Piqsels, public domain (Creative Commons Zero).

4 thoughts on “Pandemic Brain

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