COVID19 Work

Day 23: Highs and LOWS

April 7, 2020

Yesterday was one of the latter.

Did the “new month” energy wear off this quickly? God, I hope not. But at the same time, I had no desire to get up when my alarm went off. NONE.

I am not excited about more Webex calls.

I am not excited about a number of things related to work, but I cannot post them here. But I will admit that I spent a lot of my day yesterday in front of my computer, cursing.

I am not excited about dragging my kids outside (they are getting more reticent when it comes to going for walks/outside time. Probably because they are bored of it and probably also because it is starting to get hot. We should probably use the pool more but that requires a parent going in b/c of G and that doesn’t always sound appealing, unless the parent is Not Me.)

AND, I’m not even all that excited for work to return to ‘normal’ because I can already tell the backlog of non-urgent patient issues pushed aside will be like an avalanche.

(ALSO will my kids be home all summer!?!?)

1- Please don’t ream me for the privilege or lack of perspective in this post. I recognize we are very very lucky to be healthy and with jobs. I have friends that have close relatives that are very sick. At the same time, I am trying to write about my real feelings day to day in this series and I cannot ignore the fact that sometimes it all just feels like it sucks. (Though the same can be said for non-COVID life, too.)

I liked Gretchen Rubin’s take on this yesterday: Is It Selfish, Shallow, or Frivolous to Worry About Our Own State of Mind During a Time of World Crisis?

2- Despite my complaining above, I did drag myself out of bed and am going to attempt a workout in a few minutes. Trying to stick to my ‘checklist’ does help.

3- I am trying NOT to make any sweeping decrees about my career choices right now. Is my job particularly FUN right now? No! It is not. But this is a very unique (and hopefully temporary) situation and doesn’t necessarily mean that I need radical change. I don’t think so, anyway.


  • Reply Cecilia April 7, 2020 at 7:02 am

    Hi Sarah! I’m with you.

    I have been working from home for 3 weeks, my husband too, and my 2yo is still going to childcare (here in Australia they are still open). We both have relative security in our jobs (essential industries) and have savings if push came to shove. All this is very privileged but I still feel the same anxiousness about the whole situation.
    It doesn’t help that my (over 70yo) MIL arrived here a month ago for a 2 month’s visit (we are originally from Argentina) and we don’t know when she will be able to go back.
    Having family in a much poorer country, and friends here in much more affected industries, makes me feel a bit selfish about feeling anxious, but I guess we need to allow ourselves to feel however we feel, try to plan as much as possible and maybe focus on helping others that may be worse than us… maybe that would help? Don’t know, but I hope it helps you to know you are not alone.

    Thank you for being so open about your feelings!


  • Reply Allison April 7, 2020 at 7:15 am

    Hi Sarah! I feel the same way. I think it’s possible to be concerned for others and understanding of the risk others are taking but also struggle with your own day-to-day life. I am a SAHM (and loyal BOBW listener!) but my husband is working from home right now and our kids are just not used to any of this. It’s extremely taxing to be anxious and emotional about the world but have to “hide” most of that from an almost 5 and 2 year old. Interestingly I’ve also found that a lot of the ways in which our “balance” at home normally works is just not possible right now. All of the “extra” seems to now necessarily fall to me and that’s hard, especially when there isn’t really an end in sight. I am thankful that you are sharing honestly during this time. Keep it up!

  • Reply Lori C April 7, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Hang in there Sarah. Don’t forget this time period is literally survival mode. Just get through the day. At the end of this I know I will look back and be so proud of myself for getting through it. But while we are in it it just stinks. I keep trying to remind myself (probably a bad comparison) that this is like a difficult pregnancy. While you are in it, it drags and feels like an eternity but afterwards it’s like a blip on the radar. (And this WILL last for less than 9 months I hope!!!)

  • Reply Anna April 7, 2020 at 7:49 am

    This is such a tough time for all regardless of the privilege we have! Hang in there. It is a phase—a long and awful one but a phase. You’re doing the best you can.

  • Reply Kae April 7, 2020 at 8:18 am

    I hear you! I just started a blog this week and wrote about a very similar sentiment this morning too! Yesterday was just a mess for me as well. Hoping for a fresh start today… I am also a nurse but currently have a non-clinical role where I work from home full time. I got word yesterday from the hospital I work for that it is looking very likely I may end up re-deployed to a critical area to help out as the crisis builds around here. The uncertainty of what that would even entail, when it would happen and what it would mean for our family is very stressful right now too.

  • Reply Gillian April 7, 2020 at 8:35 am

    The avalanche is coming! I too am only partly looking forward to it. I am seeing about 1/3 of my patient volume right now. Those other 2/3 of patients will ultimately need to be seen, along with all the other patients whose regular follow-up will fall during the catch-up period. It promises to be challenging.

    I too found yesterday to be challenging.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns April 7, 2020 at 8:57 am

    If anyone makes any comments about you sharing your feelings here, they should not be reading this blog! I appreciate your honesty and candor. I don’t think anyone is very ‘happy’ right now. I certainly am not. Our 2 year old is home with us (and hanging on me as I type this – he’s become increasingly clingy now that he has been home with us) which has been super challenging and makes me feel like I never really get a break. It’s hard to not have anything to look forward to and to not know when these circumstances are going to come to an end. I, like you, am a big planner. And not being able to plan is really tough. I’m grateful for my health and financial security and know I have it so much better than others, but I can still be sad about the state of life.

    Try to continue to not make any judgment about whether you are in the right career until this passes. I think what you are going through it akin to how I felt when I returned from maternity leave after having our son. I majorly questioned the industry I worked in/whether I should be working outside the home/etc. But when he turned 10 months and was able to stay up a bit longer when we got home from work and was sleeping better at night, it’s like a switched flipped and I went back to enjoying my work and was so glad I fought through that period and didn’t make any decisions about leaving the workforce. I think it’s sort of similar to what you are going through. When this passes and life goes back to normal, you’ll probably go back to enjoying your work, too. hopefully!!

  • Reply Irene April 7, 2020 at 10:09 am

    I am all over the place too. I find thinking about the transition back out of this incredibly hard as well. I have no idea how my daughter will do going back to school after being out and not receiving services she needs for so long. And I’m not remotely convinced that my sons daycare will ever re-open (the owner has made some dumb decisions in my opinion during this time) but if it does it will be very different and he will have a really hard time. I am worried my work team, who have been great through all of this, will be expecting me to jump back in 120% since I’ve been taking a lot of leave and not working full capacity with the kids home. It’s just all uncertain and generally bad and it’s exhausting to have things tough right now but also not really see a clear path back to our old normal. Some days it gets to me more than others.

  • Reply Amanda April 7, 2020 at 10:17 am

    I don’t think anyone should be shamed for their feelings right now! This is a situation no amount of privileged or preparedness can counteract. Is it harder for some people right now than others? Of course. But, that is always the case in life. You can feel miserable about the situation AND grateful for the things you do have. They’re not mutually exclusive. I agree with the other comments, this is not the right time to make any major life decisions. What is the rule about grieving? No life changes for at least 6 months? This is a collective state of grief and disorder, so I think that applies. Hang in there!

    • Reply Ana April 7, 2020 at 10:56 am

      I agree with this comment 100%!

  • Reply Sarah K April 7, 2020 at 10:39 am

    I’ve been panicking about the summer too… Homeschooling is hard but at least the kids are somewhat synced up with me trying to work from home. In the summer I assume it will be a total free for all and I’ll still be trying to work? Argh.

  • Reply Zulema April 7, 2020 at 10:40 am

    I’m there with you Sarah. Today I am bummed & wanna cry all day. But I have to come to work and get the things done. I am not enjoying my work right now. Five people were laid off two weeks ago and you know my thoughts on it since I have two small kids at home. One with ASD that needs therapies during the day and by the time I get off work my brain is done. I probably need to also work out to get myself in better headspace but have no desire for that right now.

    • Reply Jenn April 7, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      Yes I agree we are all in survival mode at this point!! Can’t wait for this to be over.

  • Reply Shelly April 7, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Amanda – that was an excellent response. Well said.

    Hang in there Sarah and everyone else too. It is through support – like being able to read your blog everyday and moments of connection through text and video time that help. Even if it is just to acknowledge the days that aren’t great.

  • Reply Meg April 7, 2020 at 11:00 am

    Sarah, here’s what I know. 1) You have grit. I have seen evidence over and over again since following you after listening to BOBW from the beginning. 2) Part of feeling settled is embracing a pattern. Patterns are soothing and create predictability-we’re hardwired that way as a species it seems. So we’ve got NO patterns in these new life arrangements…and that makes it exceptionally hard. 3) I’m delighted to read that someone else is having trouble hauling out of bed in the morning. These days are long and none of us with live-in families of any sort are getting a speck of alone-time. Please cut yourself some slack. Your 50% is a typical 100% for most folks…and you’re going to get back to yourself eventually. I’m really impressed at how you’re hacking through this and providing readers with radical honesty. It makes a positive difference in this time of confusion. Our progression as a society through this won’t be linear…as hard as it is to accept. I wish you strong coffee and independently engaged children.

    • Reply Jordan April 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Is it weird that I want to print this comment out for my own reminders/pep talk?

      • Reply Meg April 8, 2020 at 8:22 am

        Not one bit and makes me feel good so thank you! 14 pt font on all the happy reminders…10 pt. for the rest, right? Hang in there!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 8, 2020 at 8:38 am

      You are very kind – thank you.

  • Reply Erica April 7, 2020 at 11:22 am

    THANK YOU for sharing your real feelings about this situation. I’ve seen so many articles and blog posts where people are relentlessly cheerful and selfless, and while it’s great that they are able to see the positive in this situation, I just can’t stand to read it. There are always people less fortunate than you; that doesn’t delegitimize your pain.

  • Reply Bliss April 7, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    I am terrified about the patient backlog. Also because we will probably still be inundated with the backlog when we change academic year and get new trainees. I’m trying to enjoy the family time now because I may not get any for a long time after things reopen. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks about that issue!

  • Reply haya April 7, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    i was commiserating with my boss today (she is also working from home with young children, but not AS young as mine, which is really a special challenge in itself) and we agreed that for each good day we have, there is one bad day and one medium day. highs and lows for sure!
    this certainly does suck but it (hopefully) won’t be forever. QE2 (my current fave world leader in all this) said it well: “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return,” “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

  • Reply Ashley G April 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    I love your honesty about your job right now because it is making me feel okay to feel the same. I am thankful to have a job, but it is so stressful right now with many projects being hurried, then stopped, then restarted again, into an endless cycle. There is a part of me that wishes I weren’t working just like there is a part of me that is thankful to have a job to keep me busy and finacially stable right now

  • Reply Laura W April 7, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Don’t be to hard on yourself! Video calls all day is draining! I am so lucky to have a job where I can work from home but after a day of looking at tiny videos of my colleageus I am tired!

  • Reply Lana April 7, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    This! “We should probably use the pool more but that requires a parent going in b/c of G and that doesn’t always sound appealing, unless the parent is Not Me.” Well said!

    My almost-three-year-old is very difficult to drag outside, too. And the weather is just fine here in California.

    Finally, anybody who blames a working physician and a mother of three young children for having a hard time EVER, and particularly now, is a disgusting troll and should be banned from commenting on blogs.

  • Reply Maggie April 7, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Totally appreciate this post and the sentiment – I am feeling the same way (as are many others it seems!) This time is so hard AND we are privileged to have jobs and financial safety nets we’ve built for ourselves, etc. The two can and do coexist and your feelings are valid notwithstanding how fortunate we are. Hoping for a better tomorrow for all of us!

  • Reply Suzanne D'Cruz April 8, 2020 at 6:28 am

    You are in my prayers.

  • Reply Omdg April 8, 2020 at 7:29 am

    I am also not excited about dealing with the backlog. They are already talking about running the ORs at full capacity seven days per week deep into the night. Ugh.

  • Reply Hannah N. April 8, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    This post, these comments – feeling very thankful for all of it. On a day where I am feeling ALL of it. Thankful to have a paycheck and a job that is deemed “essential” but also just completely overwhelmed and stressed and exhausted.

    Re: work/life decisions, if anything, this experience is solidifying the job and work environment I have during non-COVID times. I CANNOT wait to return to that.

  • Reply Taryn April 8, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said by the lovely comments above. But I would like to say THANK YOU for being so honest and authentic. It’s incredibly refreshing and reading your blog has helped me during this time. I’m really grateful to have a job where I can work from home, but I still get anxious and stressed. This is a difficult time for even the most resilient and well-adjusted people. So hang in there and you are not alone!

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