What a Time to Be Alive

Mental Health, Pandemic, Quarantine, Recovery, Sobriety
COVID 19 magnified cells

Stranger Than Fiction

I made it 1/4 of the way through Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera before I set my copy down never to return to it again. I mispronounced cholera for the duration of my time between those covers. The way I said it, ignorance sounded like ko-LEH-rah. I don’t do fiction, and my writer friends tell me that’s absurd. Most people look to escape reality for fun, while I prefer to hide in it.

Since the winter, I’ve returned to browsing movie selections from the 90’s. I’ve repeatedly considered Outbreak then went on living my life instead. I suppose my imagination does not have the patience or bandwidth to process large-scale, global and altogether fictional health crises. Why would it? As recently as January and February of this year, the world and our healthcare system continued to exist just fine within their normal levels of dysfunction. It seems only natural to take for granted the scientific method, PPE, or the internet in anticipation of a time like this.

Quarantine Made Me Do It

Writing is to me is what baking sour dough bread is to other Caucasians: I can’t fight the compulsion to do it. I haven’t written anything since December 2018. I made the determination that it would be better for me to jump with both feet back into my career as a full-time political campaign operative. That, and it took three rounds of ADHD medication trial runs to help me focus on something. I can’t ignore the need to write now that we are quarantined. My self-critical nature is at peak capacity, so I’ll get shit done while the rest of my psyche is distracted.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get back to writing. I think it was a mixture of habit, an over reliance on my job to prop up my self-esteem, insecurity that I would not have more to talk about, and the classic “I’ll get to it when I’m not so busy” line at the fore. Whatever the case was, it no longer is. Looks like the responsible thing to do for my creativity and posterity is to write down whatever I can remember. Not that I’d like to hold fast to 2020 memories. The racial disparities we already knew existed seem more evident than ever before. People who can’t afford to stay home are automatically at more of a risk than the rest of us. COVID-19 highlights the same chaos we knew existed.

What You Missed From Me, In a Boxy Word Cloud:

no more professional cooking / reproductive health under siege / Virginia state races with 2 million dollar price tags / i’m somebody’s boss now (actually, two somebodies) / bought a house / adopted a second dog / taking lots of HIIT classes / sober six years / Fleabag.


Being a person in recovery during this phase of social distancing makes me feel similar to my first few months as a sober person: light-headed, agitated and defiant. It is unclear what I am defying at this time, besides the social niceties that ask only for basic personal grooming. I work out every day instead of  anger-journaling when I’m not even mad. I became the de facto secretary of my 12-step group because I’m the only one who know how to Zoom. I’ve seen three people cry on screen in the past two weeks, and one of them was me. It feels like everyone is a newcomer these days. The entire world is subject to similar models for disease control and prevention. Whether or not we all agree that addiction also qualifies as a disease ceases to matter when so many lives are on the line or on pause. What addiction and COVID-19 have in common is the most devastating and deadly aspects of both are largely invisible.

I empathize with all of the people in recovery who rely on in-person meetings to stay connected and accountable. In my opinion, how we are now at the level of self-isolation is similar to what hitting bottom looks like–a state of being that normal people without addiction or alcoholism might otherwise never experience.

And so, I am here to connect with anyone who reads this and recognizes the clawing, obstinate and repetitive voice telling them there is no point to staying sober. There are millions of us tuning in to connect with you, even when you’re 3,000 miles away.

Lucy Hartman

Lucy Hartman

I'm funnier when I'm sober.