I’ve been adrift, and I suspect many of you have been as well. We’re tired of hearing about what an unprecedented time we’re living through, and about the shared societal trauma we’re suffering. I’ve gone from being overly obsessed with reading everything that we know about the coronavirus to almost completely withdrawing from all news. I freely admit that neither of those extremes is ideal. While I cannot simply stick my head in the sand and pretend like these things are not happening, neither should I sacrifice my mental health in order to obsess over every minute-by-minute update.
You may have wondered where I disappeared to. First, I got really sick in mid-January, and got a lingering case of bronchitis. I’ve been on multiple rounds of steroids, antibiotics, and nebulizer treatments, and the cough still has not completely gone away. I would feel better for a few days, or even a week, and then go back downhill. But in addition to the physical challenges, I’ve really been struggling with anxiety and depression. The legitimate fear of getting sick with something that may be a death sentence for me due to my health issues, the frustration with people not having the proper level of respect for a virus that has now killed nearly 200,000 people in the US alone, and the dismay that we are STILL having the same discussions about racism that we were having a generation ago, with so many people in denial over its existence, just combined to create a crushing weight on my psyche.
I didn’t know how to deal with it. I even stopped doing many of the things that I love, including knitting. I’ve only just recently picked it back up. Everyone is stressed out about what’s happening, although we’re all affected differently. But we can’t talk to someone outside of the situation, because we’re all experiencing it. There’s no objective viewpoint. And at this moment, not only is there not a trustworthy vaccine, there’s not even a very reliable treatment, although there are some promising candidates. I’ve been blessed that I haven’t yet lost a close friend or family member to this virus, but I know that’s still a very real possibility. My dad was hospitalized with it, but thankfully responded well to treatment and is now home, well, and even back to work. I’m also blessed that my husband Rob has a job for which he was able to work from home, so we didn’t have to worry about him losing his job, risking his health, or not being able to pay our bills or eat. So I know it could have been so much worse for us, as it has been for so many of you.
But I was really struggling to squelch the near-terror levels of anxiety I got when thinking about my mom getting coronavirus, and I’m feeling it now just typing about it. My mom is a cancer survivor and has lung damage from her treatments, so she’s extremely high risk. I have a niece with Crohn’s whose treatments put her at risk as well. And my younger child has a lot of the same autoimmune diseases that I do, so we’re both vulnerable. And I know it’s not an irrational fear.
Anyway, all this rambling is just to say: I hear you. I see you. I feel the same things you’re feeling. We ARE all experiencing this together, and although our experiences may not be identical, we can certainly empathize with each other. Reach out to one another. Stay connected as much as you can. It will take a little more work than it used to, but we need each other more than ever now. And if you find yourself in a bad head space, please seek help. We need your unique light in this world.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 1-800-272-8255
Better Help Online Therapy: https://www.betterhelp.com/start/
Until next time, stay fantastical, my treasured horde!
Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash