Girl in a hazmat suit writing in a journal
Credit : Evan Keck, 42Fifty

On March 20, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued the first stay at home order which declared that all schools in Illinois close their doors and commence online learning. Since nothing is open and I have nowhere to go, I thought I’d take this opportunity to journal about my experiences during this social quarantine from April 1 to April 30. 

April 1: The only thing keeping my sanity in check at the moment is the endless amount of video games that have been keeping me busy. Online learning isn’t the worst thing in the world either. We still have to learn somehow, but I’m slowly losing the motivation to do this work. That might just be because I’m a senior in high school who’s ready to leave. 

April 3: I woke up way too early and I don’t feel like a functioning human being right now. My brain is still on the normal school schedule and I am not enjoying it very much. I need coffee, but I don’t have the money nor does the coffee in my house taste any good. Looks like I’ll just power through it until I fully wake up. The rest of the day was mostly peaceful minus the birds that kept trying to fly into my window, but that’s nothing new. The days already seem like they’re going by much faster than they normally would. That might just be because I am partaking in activities that waste more time than usual. 

April 4: I’ve started babysitting my four-year-old brother because his daycare is now closed. He’s an absolute nightmare that kicks me in the face every time I try to fall asleep. I’m starting to slowly miss my friends and teachers, but communicating over social media is fine for now.

April 7: I feel like I’m starting to go a little crazy. I’m tired of doing the same things every day. Wake up. Eat. Game. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. I want to go outside. I want to do something other than being in my house. Hopefully, this will be over soon and we can all go back to school. Nice job world, you made me miss being at school. 

April 11: My sleep schedule has officially been ruined. It’s hard for me to get up before noon, and after I get up I just stay in my bed playing “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for a few hours. There isn’t much wrong with this new lifestyle I’ve adapted to, but I’ve noticed that when I get up my legs feel like Jello and I have to sit back down. 

April 12: Today was the first day I’ve left my house in almost a month and it was honestly terrifying. I had to go to my local Walmart for some groceries and I was wearing a mask, gloves, and three layers of clothes. I could count on one hand the number of people I saw with masks and gloves on. I don’t understand how people can feel safe going outside without some type of protection. I saw people standing way too close to each other, some people were coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths. From now on, I’m probably going to use a delivery service to get groceries if I can just to keep myself safe.

April 15: So today my mental state has deteriorated into something much worse than before. I feel sick. I’m having hot flashes and I’m experiencing flu-like symptoms. I don’t think I have COVID-19, but even if I did I can’t get tested because I have other underlying issues. So, I have been quarantined in my bedroom. My room had caution tape around the front of it and the only way I get food is someone brings it up to my room, knocks on my door, and leaves it there. Hopefully, this is just a cold or the flu. My body feels like it’s on fire and my insides feel like they’re about to explode. 

April 17: I got ramen today so that’s a good thing. I have all of the symptoms of COVID-19 except the cough and the loss of taste or smell. Those are the only early symptoms I haven’t gotten so that’s why I have a feeling that this is just the flu and it’ll pass in a few days. I’m having these weird cravings for food and I’m thinking that it’s just because I’ve been trapped in my room for so long. I haven’t seen another human being in 3 days. Is this what it’s like being in solitary confinement? I feel sympathy for people that have to go through that now. 

April 19th: I can hardly breathe now. It feels like someone has their hands around my throat while simultaneously pushing down on my chest. My lungs feel like they’re being crushed by a steel beam. I can’t handle this much longer. I need to get better. I am taking the highest amount of Vitamin C that my body can handle without completely rejecting it. Wish me luck. 

April 21: My symptoms have gotten better so I’m thinking it was just a mild case of the flu. My body is still very sore and I am still not allowed to leave my room. I miss talking to people. I miss my friends and my teachers so much and the fact that I won’t be going back to school hurts me. I probably won’t see most of my friends again. This quarantine has opened my eyes as to what life is like after high school and I don’t like it all too much. 

April 24: I have finally been let out of my room since I am showing no symptoms of being sick with anything. The first thing I did when I got out of my room was I made 4 waffles in my toaster oven. This toaster oven has seen better days. It’s so old and beaten that it looks like it fought in World War II and barely survived. Anyways, I wait patiently on my couch while my waffles are toasting. Finally, I hear the ding of my toaster oven and I slowly take out my waffles. I burnt two of my fingers in the process. I opened my front door and sat on my porch with my plate of waffles. It feels great to actually go outside after nine days of being locked in my room with no contact with the outside world other than my computer and my phone.  

April: 27: Even though I can now freely go throughout my house, I feel this large emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I want to see other people than my family. The people in this house have started driving me crazy. I feel like if I talk to anyone I can snap like a twig at any moment. I hope this stay at home order ends soon because I don’t know how much longer I can handle this. I understand why we need to stay inside, but I want my life back. 

April 30: I never thought that my sanity and mental state would deteriorate so much in the span of a month. Even though I want to go outside and just sit down in the grass, I can’t find the motivation to get out of my bed and move. I’m hardly eating anymore and it’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just because I forget to. The last month has been the absolute worst month of my life and I hope this quarantine is over very soon. 

Over the past month, I’ve kept a small journal of mostly every day mainly as an experiment to see how far my sanity would deteriorate while in quarantine. Something that I learned is that humans are very social creatures. Humans need social interaction to survive and if you completely cut that off, a person can be driven into madness. I will admit that the one thing that kept me going through this was being able to write down what I was going through. It was as if I was talking to someone in my head, and it was genuinely good for my mental health to verbalize my thoughts.

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