As Depression Sets In, My Thoughts On How We Power Through This

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As Depression Sets In

As Depression Sets In, My Thoughts On How We Power Through This

My hands are raw and red from constant scrubbing. My beard is gnarly and unkempt simply because, what’s the point? Wardrobe changes consist of changing from last nights sweats into today’s sweats. The most important goal every week is to claim a grocery delivery or pick up time. This is my new reality as depression sets in.

Gone is the hope, planning and the joy that travel brings my life.  Gone is the rush of March Madness, the sweet taste of draft beer and the laughter that fills a room when friends gather. You can still get some of those things, at a distance, but they are not the same. There is a dark hole that fills that void now. And reality really hits home when you realize this is just the beginning. Does anyone else feel like we have become Bill Murray reprising his role as Phil Connors in Groundhog Day? Every morning we wake up and say…this again!?

As Depression Sets In

Self Pity & Uncertainty

I have been wallowing some in self pity over the last week and a half. Many of the things that motivate us have been taken from us in an instant. We were originally told that this would pass quickly and that we will be back to normal in no time.  But the timeline continues to look worse and worse as the days go on. And I try my damnedest to avoid checking the stock market every day but I will let you in on a secret, I fail 🤦‍♂️. All of this leaves us somewhat hopeless but the truly depressing part is the uncertainty of it all.

When can our kids play with their friends again? When will we be able to socialize with others outside of our own home again? These are questions that can not be answered at this time and that is a tough pill to swallow.

Why bring this up? Why pile on and add to the misery?  Because I know there are people out there that are feeling the same things I am feeling and I want you to know that you are not alone. There is some comfort in knowing that and I will take all of the comfort I can get right now.

Why This Has Hit Me Harder Than Most Things

I think one reason that this is really hitting people in our hobby hard is because travel is a fiber of our life, it is a part of our existence. If we are not currently on a trip, we are planning a trip or are at least looking forward to the next one on the horizon.  There is ALWAYS a carrot at the end of that stick, until now at least.

We are piling up the cancellations instead of the memories these days.  And our carrot has been devoured by uncertainty and doubt.  Will my wife and I be able to go on our 15 year anniversary trip in July? Probably not.  What about August, September…the rest of 2020? That is what is the most difficult thing for me to handle.  I don’t deal well with the unknown. I am a give me the bad news right now doctor and let’s put together a plan of attack type of guy.

As Depression Sets In

How Do I Plan To Power Through This?

So what do we do now? How can we fill some of that void?  I plan on trying to take advantage of the extra time at home and to tackle some things I should have done long ago.  This will hopefully put some of that purpose that is missing back in my life.  It will create a sense of accomplishment and usefulness as I check them off the list.  And it will mean I can hit the ground running when life returns back to normal.

Trimming The Credit Card Fat

I am reviewing all of my credit cards, especially the premium ones and trimming the fat. When I posted my credit card annual fees in 2019 I had said I planned on getting that number down and that is still the goal.  My first objective is to get some type of outlandish retention offer from these banks, especially for the premium cards.  If I get that then I will stick with them, if not many of them will be chopped.  Lean and mean is the name of my game. Look for a post depicting my decisions upcoming.

Preparing For The Worst

Trimming the annual fee fat plays into my next goal too.  I am putting together info for my wife should something happen to me.  This situation has been a dose of reality and to be honest I have been slipping in this department.  I am putting together a spreadsheet with our cards, info, login, bank accounts etc. She doesn’t really handle any of it and should something happen to me she would be rowing upstream without a paddle. So I need to make that transition as easy as possible should it ever come. This is a top priority.

Easy Wins

With points earning becoming more difficult over the next few / several months I am going to look for the easy wins.  These could be smaller welcome offers with lower spend, bank account bonuses I can do from home or the random online gift card deal here and there.  Anything that can add a little bit of coin in my pocket without much effort or adding to my prepare for the worst honey-do list is fair game.  We will cover these on the website as well like the SoFi Crypto bonus (a quick $50 for us) or slow shipping Amazon orders for $3 in free movies etc.

Keeping Social Even If Online

I also plan on getting some of the social interaction I am missing online and via Facetime etc.  We will start hosting some chats in the Facebook Group to give people an outlet to talk.  I am lucky that I communicate with the MtM family on a daily basis and get to socialize on the podcast as well.  Join us in that experience if you are in need of it, like I am. I am also participating in a virtual game night with friends online. I will let you know how it goes so you can give it a try too. Playing video games online with friends is a great stress release too. These types of activities help me get some of that social aspect I am missing back.

As Depression Sets In

Going Back To School

My last, and most important, item on the checklist will be teaching and spending more time with my kids. With schools closed, likely until at least the fall, I need to help continue their growth and development.  I did a very poor job of that in week one (hello self pity) and need to do better going forward.  We have the tools at our disposal and it is now my job to make sure that we use them as much as possible.  I also need to remember to be more present and enjoy the gift of spending more time with them.  As painful as it can be to write for the website while they are constantly bugging me 🤣 it is a blessing to get to see them each and every day. I have to remain present with them and cherish the positives of this unique time.

Final Thoughts

Even though it feels like we are starring in a survival show, fighting for the last roll of toilet paper, this too shall pass. Believe me on that!

If a little bit of depression has set in for you as well, just know you are not alone.  We can get through it together.  We can share ideas to keep ourselves busy and give us purpose. Plus we can chat here in the comments, in the Facebook Groups or via email. I encourage you to share some ideas in the comments on what you are doing to keep busy. I will take all the advice / suggestions I can get.

And as always, let us know what we at Miles to Memories can do to help and we will do our best to make it happen too.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. My wife, two kids and I went to Hawaii on 23 March despite warnings by friends and the government not to go because of the coronavirus. We are on Oahu now. The weather is beautiful, temperatures in the 80s, many people are out, and restaurants are still open for take out. Beaches/Parks are officially closed… but, yes, you can park on the side of the road and walk into the parks. Flights and hotels are super cheap now. Sorry you are not here to enjoy it…

    • Pretty sure with Hawaii’s new quarantine put into place they don’t want anyone visiting the island.

    • Don’t encourage other to come to Hawaii. #1 The locals don’t want you here maybe you have not noticed the convoy of people holding signs telling you your not welcome here, go home, keep your virus to yourself. #2 starting 26 Mar anyone that enters Hawaii will be under mandatory quarantines order which means under no circumstances can you leave your room, you must order room service or rely on food delivery services. #3 maybe you have not notice but starting tomorrow 25 Mar starts the state wide “Stay at home order” you can not walking around for enjoyment only essential services, which mean the already closed beaches your rudely visiting by ignoring and bypassing the police tape tomorrow, Wed when you do it again you will now be subject to a $5000 fine and up to 1 year in jail. Play the game let the police catch you tomorrow and see how much your enjoying putting our safety in danger. Get a clue, listen to the news go home now before you end up in jail paying fines!!

    • Brah please show some Aloha and go home now in peace. Show our islands some respect, we will welcome you back when its safe. Many of my Ohana would not take to you kindly as your causing direct hardship to our Kupuna.

  2. There are many things that are hard about this situation. I am also really disappointed about the travel aspect. We canceled a short spring break trip which was not a big deal. We have a big summer family trip which starts at the end of May, and we have been planning it for years. I hope we can go, and I hope you get to go on your anniversary trip! Hopefully things will be different at least by the summer! Thank you for doing the podcast- I always enjoy it.

    • I hope your summer trip happens too. I know how much time and effort goes into planning something like that so hopefully you get to reap the rewards of your hard work.

      Thanks for listening Cindy – we really appreciate it!

  3. It’s a difficult time for many of us out here, but I for one want to say that as I mentioned before, I’m glad I discovered you guys and really enjoy the humor and great conversations on your podcast. I’ve been researching this whole thing a lot, I have a strong math background so I have a good grasp of the predictive models, and I’d like to suggest there are some outlines of what the various scenarios are for the future that I think are possible and probable.

    There are some rays of hope. First, China managed to control this virus with a lockdown that lasted only about two months. Second, South Korea managed to control it without totally shutting everything down in about a month. In both countries things are stabilizing but — it still remains to be said that they still recommend some degree of social distancing. Things are opening up or already open but everyone will have to be cautious in these places. Things won’t really return to “normal” until a vaccine is found, maybe a year or more from now — but they can return to somewhat better in as little as a couple of months.

    However, and this is a big but — it depends on how strict we are with the lockdown. The stronger the lockdown the less time it will take. I am very disturbed by indications that some people aren’t taking this serious and/or our leadership may try to withdraw the lockdown too soon. That would only prolong this. Fingers crossed that wiser heads prevail and we do keep things closed. California is locked down however and will remain locked down — so this might end up getting better in some parts of the country and worse in others.

    IF things go well, however, in 2-3 (-4 -5?) months we can ease up a bit and have restaurants, cafes, travel, etc. start to open up. Still not a good idea to have mass gatherings (so Disney might have to stay closed until a vaccine is found). But, we can go out to eat (carefully), etc.

    I know I’m just some random guy on the internet saying all this but I base all this on reputable sources and a lot of reliable models. There is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, stay safe and courage!

    • serious -> seriously. I know how to write English but for some reason my fingers do not always type what my brain intends to write.

    • Thanks Mitsu for being so active in the Facebook Groups and commenting here often – it is greatly appreciated!

      I have been coming to the same conclusions as you as I have read through many of the articles. I am really curious to see if the spread starts up again in China once restrictions are lifted some. That will be very telling and kind of dictate what the future holds. Also I wonder if it gets to the point where people think isolation is doing more harm than good etc. The next 3-6 months will be very interesting to watch unfold.

      • Thanks, Mark. I think a lot of people (not you) misunderstand the point of the lockdowns — they’re not supposed to last forever. Just long enough to get the case counts down to the point they can be managed with widespread testing and contact tracing. South Korea has been doing this and so far it’s working. It remains to be seen if China can pull it off but I have a feeling they will.

        Opening up the lockdowns early really would just prolong the “harm”. Sure, you might have a week or two of things getting back to “normal” but if the virus is still so prevalent that a lot of people start getting sick again we’ll be right back to people dying and the public pressure will come down and we’ll have to lock down again. That would just be crazy — it would just be going back and forth between lockdowns and easing up which is just exhausting and would cause far more damage than a single intense lockdown now is going to.

        But things are going to get really tough in the next couple of weeks so I think most people are going to be convinced we really need to beat this now.

        Ironically there was an Italian politician, leader of one of the major parties there, who had a big party a few weeks ago because he had this attitude of “the economy is more important than the coronavirus”. He’s now tested positive.

  4. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    Don’t get discouraged Mark! It’s a hard situation for everyone but God is a bright source of hope.

  5. As someone who suffers with a high level of combat PTSD this isolation is making me feel alive again with purpose as I’m back in combat. I feel my survival instinct kick in once again. Im prepared and understand what’s coming. Im ready and prepared to handle devastation. I’m no longer fighting the pressure of having to reintegrate in to society atmosphere, public places and no more crowds. For once the world is fearing the unknown where im prepared to deal with it. I feel as if the world is understanding things from my perspective. I feel as if my skin is coming back. This is a high I have been missing but sadly once it’s all over and world back to normal the high will be gone, as well as all of the progress I have made to reintegrate my self in what most people would call normalization. This virus is just another war and my warrior face has returned!

    • I can totally see that and I am glad you are feeling free again. And I hope you are able to find some normalcy and calm when things turn back the other way too.

  6. This is a case where it’s good to be 61 and have gone through this multiple times.

    We will get through this the same way we got through 1973, 1987, 2000, and 2009. Crashes happen every 10-13 years or so. You buy stock in times like this and sit back. You will be rewarded.

    I know people who got out of the market in 1987 and never got back in, earning their silly little 2% the whole time. Pitiful.

    Human ingenuity under a free market capitalist system is an incredibly powerful, astonishing thing. We will adapt, rebound, and reach new market highs within a few years.

    Warren Buffet pointed out that since 1942, when he bought his first stock, $1 invested in the total stock market would now be worth $5300. It’s almost impossible to believe.

    People advocating socialism are complete idiots. Do not listen to them. Better yet, take some of you points/miles and send their *sses to Venezuela for a month. Without toilet paper.

    In 4 years, you won’t even remember this. Fear not. Invest.

    • I think this one is different because of how much it is affecting everyday life. The stock market isn’t really a major part of my worries. The economy as a whole is for sure but I am far enough away from retirement age that it won’t really matter. The part that has me down a little bit is the social aspect and the freedoms that we are losing and took for granted because of the virus. It will pass, no doubt but it is a big change in course from anything I have ever dealt with in my life.

      • “Be fearful when everyone is bold. Be bold when everyone is fearful. The time to buy is when blood is running in the streets.”

        Which it is. Right now. Grab your ****s and act.

        There is nothing new under the sun. This has been shown hundreds of times.

        Come back in 3 years and check this post.

  7. I’ve been living off my investments the last year and almost wanna cry everyday my stocks drop double and sometimes triple the S&P 500 index. Had some hope tho the last three trading days when my investments performed three times better than the index. It’s going to take at least two years to recoup losses. And I can’t even go out and find a job as there might be none available when this ends. Certainly lots of uncertainty and all we can do is hope for the best.

    • People living off investment income or retirees are getting hit hardest by the stock market for sure. I couldn’t imagine the stress that adds. Hopefully it is a quick turnaround or at least it bottoms out soon.

  8. As your cutting the credit card fat lets us know I have a feeling many cards will be willing to waive annual fees during this time in an attempt to hold on to customers.

    • I would think that will be the case but we shall see. Banks don’t always make the most logical choices.

      • Most of the adept travelers with the high annual fee cards here aren’t profitable for the banks in the first place, quite the contrary. It would be logical for them not to prioritize retention of these customers and focus on more profitable ones.

        • That makes sense they probally prefer to keep those that do not pay in full every month. I truly don’t understand how they profit. Looking at my 2% cash back cards I use for MS. Every $1000 card I purchase generates $20 revenue, the mall charges roughly $5 per card and I profit $15. The CC can not make $20+ from a swipe fee to generate my profits, if so the mall would be losing cash with every sale. I normally purchase around $100k a month in which I profit roughly $1,500. For me to gain someone has to be taking a loss plus my 2% cards have no annual fee. The mall or CC company has to be taking a loss in order for me to gain correct?

          • The swipe fees depend on the card you use but a lot of cards do charge over 2% in swipe fees. The mall is hoping that you lose or do not drain the gift cards fully. That is how they get their money back or that you buy something while at the mall. That would be my guess.

  9. I’d recommend bathing regularly and wearing real clothes. You’d be surprised the difference it makes. It has helped me work from home for some time.

    • That is very true Logan. I have been working from home for a few years now and it does make a big difference – thanks for sharing!

  10. Mark, I for one appreciated the honesty! My mood varies during the day, but there is definitely some depression and grief, mingled with plenty of gratitude because I’m indeed cognizant that I’m not dealing with some of the anxieties and fears some people have. But I also believe that you can’t deny grief either. It’s a process of mourning and accepting and then trying to figure out the next stage of life and make the best of it. I’m a bit in the higher risk category myself and my husband is 11years older, and we are a year and a half into finally being retired and empty nesters, on the older side for empty nesters, because our youngest child was adopted from China, from Wuhan, a city I’d never heard of until we went in 2001, and now the whole world knows about it. I’m so grateful that we ramped up our traveling within a week of when she left for college, and also did a five week around the world trip last winter, mostly in Asia. Our last international trip was in the fall to northern Italy, Milan, Lake Como, Verona, Padua, etc, much of the hardest hit Italian areas. We were supposed to be in Israel right now. Given our age, I don’t know if we can travel until there’s a vaccine, a treatment or at least enough medical capacity for decent treatment wherever we travel in case we became really ill. That’s a lot to digest, and a huge personal loss. And the fears about the economy are quite real also. Yes, the world is full of situations that make my life look cushy, but that’s always been the case if you are aware of what’s going on in the world. People process in different ways, but I need to acknowledge some of the loss before I can really move forward in constructing a new life. I’d love to hear about a miracle drug soon and maybe there will be one, I hope so for all of us, but then maybe not one anytime soon. I’m sure both you and I will figure out a way to get through this, but it’s not without sadness and loss.

    • Kate thank you so much for sharing and for reading. I am glad you were able to get some of those big trips in before all of this happened. Sounds like you got to see some amazing places!

      Being newly retired definitely throws some angst into the equation for sure. And it is something I don’t have on my plate but I can imagine it adds to the worries. I do have a feeling most travel will be delayed for some time, until there are at least suitable treatments if not a vaccine. That will be hard for a lot of us to deal with. As well as missing out on all of the social norms we are accustomed to. It will be a tough road ahead but I do agree we will find a way through this.

  11. Let’s start off by saying this too shall and pass, look to the bright side of life!
    Now, I think this highlights larger issues that must be dealt with if after a week and a half people are actually depressed over what you mentioned about a hobby. Was it really then a hobby or did it become an obsession? We must use this time to prioritise our life. Depression is a mental health issue. When the cause is identified you must then adjust accordingly. I am concerned that, as a family man myself, parents are home and not focusing their time-effort-energy on their most important asset: family. Really, what example have we set for our children? Do they see/know that they are our priority? Help them get through this, Family first!
    I’m certain that if this response gets posted there will be some upset saying I’m callous or lack compassion and understanding; pish-tosh! When one has a family and has pity partied because of a “hobby” then deep honest self-examination needs to take place. You will not like aspects of what is found, but, that’s how we grow and become better. On the other hand, you will find aspects that you find comfort, joy, and really good!
    Our families need us now more than ever.

    • I think a lot of that is touched on in the article. I say to focus on family and look at the blessings you do have. The travel aspect is just a part of it as discussed as well. The social distancing, being cooped up at home, the repetitive nature of everything is the main issue which is discussed as well. You seem to have picked up on one part of the article and focused on that. And I think when life wildly changes it is normal to feel a little down and out.

      What makes this unique to other events I have lived through is your freedom is taking away a little bit and travel is a part of that. It is something to adjust to and I think people will have varying levels of adjustment periods.

    • I am not sure how a recession doesn’t happen when most businesses will be closed for quite some time. I think it is inevitable Brad. I do think it will rebound when things are back to normal but there is no telling when normal will happen again at this point.


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