So many people I know are describing a similar condition. “We’re losing the capacity to share and experience certain things,” my friend Stephen said this afternoon. “We’re losing community. Zoom is not the same thing.” The haze is pervasive.

Vaccine Expert Has A Grim Prediction Of What Coronavirus Will Do ‘For Years And Years’—HuffPost

‘Friday Night Massacre’ at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a Major Trump Donor—Ousts Top Officials—Moyers On Democracy

Trump attempts to wrest tax and spending powers from Congress with new executive actions—WaPo

August 8, 2020

The haze of depression
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington

This morning, I was on the phone with my friend Sheila. The woman she had hoped to see had recently canceled the socially distant trip she’d been planning to make to her. “Too much stress for her to handle a visit,” she said. “I understand. I’m not mad. But some hours after she told me, the haze of depression descended. Will I ever see her again? I wondered. Then later, I was organizing my kitchen, going through platters and tablecloths, things we used for holidays. I looked at them and thought, When are we going to have a group of twelve friends here again? Will it ever happen? I don’t think so. I can’t see a future where it will.

When you’re in your sixties or seventies or eighties, this is not a hyperbolic question, not when a vaccine expert goes on MSNBC and tells Nicolle Wallace that ‘the coronavirus will continue to plague the United States “for years and years, even after vaccines are out and we get people vaccinated.”’

As my day went on after the phone call—running the vacuum, doing laundry, making the bed, preparing lunch, finishing the current mystery on my Kindle—I too started feeling the haze of depression descending.

There are so many pieces of the societal nightmare we are trapped in. We all know them. No need for me to repeat the list here. Mostly, despite it all, I have a pretty good attitude toward my life. I’m lucky enough to be working, which keeps me both busy and engaged; I have good friends; I live in a neighborhood that is quiet enough for me to feel comfortable taking daily walks past flowering yards and under tall trees. I am (knock wood) healthy. I basically trust that by putting one foot in front of the other every day, I am moving in the right direction and will, when the time is right, discover where my path is leading.

And what if I do not live to see the end of this? What if, optimism be damned, something does me in before it’s over? How will my good attitude fare if my annual mammogram once again reveals something untoward or, despite all my best efforts, the virus enters my body? Will I have the ability to, after the shock and terror subside, once again find my positivity under those circumstances?

This time is requiring such strength from us all. We can’t use many of the distractions and activities that helped us manage our unhappinesses and anxieties in the before-Covid times that we took for granted.

I am also aware that I don’t want to go back to things as they were. It seemed that my life was often eaten up by what appeared to be essential errands and obligations. So I don’t yearn for the good old days. They really weren’t all that good.

I am grateful to Michelle Obama for her public acknowledgment of her own “low grade depression.” And I also appreciate her subsequent message that “I’m doing just fine.” She continued, “The idea that what this country is going through shouldn’t have any effect on us—that we all should just feel OK all the time—that just doesn’t feel real to me. So I hope you all are allowing yourselves to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.”

“We’re really being called to navigate a new normal,” Sheila said. “And there’s nothing normal about this.”


  1. The “Haze of Depression” has been with us since Adam and Eve met the apple and the snake. Our everyday routines, laundry, cooking meals, gardening, reading, writing, blogging, drinking, walking, etc., are what we do in spite of the depression, in spite of the pandemic, in spite of our fears of the future. As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” I have to admit that I am glad I’m 69 years old without children or grandchildren and responsible only to myself, my wife, and my cats. The covid19 pandemic will follow it’s own course, but we need to take action against the powers that we can eliminate on our own. That list includes, but is not limited to, Trump and his minions, the NRA, and the Republican party. America has a choice in November, vote in our own best interest, or perish.

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  2. Ruth, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, we continue to go through very difficult times, seemingly with no endpoint. Sometime in April I realized that I could die from this, and so could my husband. I panicked. What would happen to our two dogs if we suddenly went off to the hospital? I had a sudden realization that all those things I thought I might explore in the next few years might never happen. A loss of the future I thought I still had. Brian and I tonight watched the 1995 movie Outbreak, with so many similarities to our current situation. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes positive, sometimes not.

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  3. Ruth, thank you for sharing your deeply felt thoughts on the changes we are all involuntarily forced to live with in these terrible times. I too feel similarly and sometimes find it hard to deal with these feelings of imprisonment and despair. Once again your words are a comfort as I realize how widespread are these feelings among fellow travelers in this life journey.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I also agree with Mr. DiGiacomo’s observations. Sometimes I think we are convinced that we are suffering depression because of constant reminders on TV, in magazines, etc that we don’t have to feel sad anymore if we don’t want to. I am not saying there is no such thing as depression, I know many people suffer greatly from it. But for many of us, myself, for one, maybe we get convinced our sadness needs medical attention when all it really needs is a task or a visit outside our own head for a few hours. Maybe that IS depression. I don’t know. But I hope our COVID-19 isolation doesn’t take us into new depths. One day at a time. Sometimes that’s the best you can do and that is okay.

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    1. I agree. Many people who have a little depression go straight for the drugs. And they remain on them for too many years. Depression and chemical imbalance is a real thing, but not all depression is a chemical imbalance. Getting on a schedule, planing projects…necessary ones or creative ones, giving yourself goals to reward, and getting exercise along with healthy eating really helps.

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  5. Thanks again, Ruth. I do really think that no matter how good are circumstances are, at some level we are all suffering from varying degrees of “low grade depression”. I know I feel it deeply. We’re both introverts so being isolated and having lots of down time doesn’t bother us all that much. We have each other and we live on three acres, much of which is untouched. We have dozens of birds, little bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and raccoons to keep us company. But there are days in which we both feel such grief and despair as our democracy erodes, and such anger at the buffoon in the White House who has made the impact of this pandemic so much worse than it needed to be. And so much is being done to suppress the vote on Nov. 3rd. How we get through this and what this country will look like in years to come is a real unknown. Fear and low grade depression indeed!

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  6. Thank you for posting this honest, though somewhat sad description of how you are doing, dear Ruth. I am right with you in almost everything you said in this piece. At least when the sun shines, I have something to literally and figuratively brighten my day, but I have to agree that the future looks rather uncertain. I plan to keep pulling forth the positives of each day that comes, and to do my best to let go of the worries about what is yet to arrive.

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  7. Ruth, your open, authentic sharing lets me know that I’m not alone in these feelings. Thank you for that; it’s a great gift. Sending you blessings and love…

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  8. Thank you for your sharing, Ruth. The description “haze of depression “ fits perfectly. When medical experts spoke this last weekend about vaccines that are 50% effective being considered successful I really came to the realization that things will NEVER return to normal. For those of us at this age, and some, me included, with medical issues, masks will be a forever thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat in a restaurant again, or go into a store and try on clothes. I haven’t seen my grandchildren since this began, and no visits are in sight. We have to find a way of finding joy in life anyway. I’m just not sure how to do that.

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