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Consider This is a column focused on how important elements of a woman’s life look in single life and in marriage. This week, we’re considering what it's like to quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic as single and married women. Read Christine's essay about quarantining as a single woman here and Mary Rose’s as a married woman here. Today, they respond to each other’s experiences.

Christine (single) to Mary Rose (married)

First of all, I have also been spending a lot of time on my nails during this pandemic! I used to regularly frequent the local nail salon for gel manicures, but bought a home gel manicure set right before the pandemic hit to save money — a timely purchase. Having fresh nails is another self-care ritual that I’ve found to be fun and rewarding, helping me feel polished and put together.

On a more serious note, hearing that you have similar emotional ups and downs as a mother that I have as a single woman, I’m sure it must be a great challenge to take care of your own mental needs as well as that of your children and husband and deal with the demands of family life. My quarantine is very much characterized by solitude and isolation, while yours is an overload of interruptions and balancing your own health and work with the needs of your family.

I can relate to your sense of guilt for feeling the frustration of staying at home while others are on the front lines, putting their health and lives in jeopardy to help save those suffering from COVID-19. I’ve had a similar experience with my faith life, this time at home has helped me focus on renewing my spiritual life and I’ve benefited from the many ways my faith community is providing Mass live-streams, virtual retreats, and other resources. Your reflection made clear to me that single and married women are sharing similar concerns and emotions despite the differences in state of life.

Mary Rose (married) to Christine (single)

Upon reading your experience as a single woman in the age of COVID-19, I was immediately reminded of a truth I hold dear: that we are unwise to wish to swap our challenges with those of others.

When you described the experience of “when big emotions and isolation meet,” I was struck by an image from the 2014 film Unbroken, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand. Hillenbrand’s book tells the story of Olympic middle distance runner Louis Zamperini, an American prisoner of war whose odyssey between Japan and his homeland included a period of time lost at sea. Zamperini and two comrades survived a plane crash in the ocean; after enduring taxing mental challenges isolated at sea, one of the men died, but Zamperini and another man survived 46 days at sea before being captured and held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The full story makes for a remarkable film that shows the many forms of hardship one can encounter in war and—with luck, resilience, and a good attitude—even survive.

Your description of overwhelming thoughts and solitude reminds me of the challenges of isolation at sea. It’s remarkably hard on people to be alone for a long time, and it doesn’t help when there are life-threatening dangers about. I’ve seen the introvert memes joking about being made for this moment. They suggest a delight in being locked in with comforts, not quite taking into account the context of a world in a pandemic.

From your piece, I’m going to try to take to heart your point that “self-care is more important than your productivity,” and be a bit easier on myself about the messes I see around my house these days. Reading your perspective on productivity—even the pressures to start hobbies—hit home for me, as that feels like the farthest thing from a possibility right now. But I’ll try to take a tip from your playbook and put on my makeup someday and see if that helps. I‘ll take all the positives I can get!

Do you have an experience about quarantining that you'd like to share? Tell us here and your response may be published by Verily at a later date.