Katie, Birch Run

Storyteller: Alexander Younce

Katie was awoken by her phone ringing on march 13th, a call from her work that she immediately picked up. The voice on the other end told her that her work, a retail store in Birch Run, where she lives, was shutting down because of a quickly spreading virus. The months that followed were filled with nothingness, she was isolated from everyone but her parents, and when she did leave the house she had more than just the virus to deal with. 

“For the first few months wearing a mask made me really anxious.” She told me “it took a lot of time before I didn’t feel claustrophobic or like I was suffocating while wearing one.” She refused to not wear one, fearing that if she caught the virus she would transfer it to her brother or his pregnant wife or their toddler.

Along with the worry of getting those around her sick she soon started to feel the effects of the isolation. Not seeing or interacting with the people she cared the most about started to make her feel distant and sad. She even missed her work, her coworkers were people that she had seen almost every day for months and the interactions she was so used to having were just gone from her daily life. 

When she did go back to work, a few months later, she struggled with the anxiety for days before she went in. When she did go in everything had changed, she had to be trained in the new procedures for the store and did far more cleaning than she was used to. The job became more physically demanding and on top of it all she had to wear a mask that made her feel like she couldn’t breathe. 

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