Pandemic Anniversary

I had a really shitty week mentally leading up to writing this blog. I had work deadlines up the ass, some heavy personal shit going on, lofty goals to reach and I felt like things were spinning out of control. My anxiety kicked in at full speed because why not kick me when I am down? Makes sense. As my shitty sleep continued to mount and my mindless tv, podcasts and things that I tried to occupy myself with to keep my anxiety at bay started to dwindle, I began to unravel. I have fallen into the “pandemic fine” category, myself. Basically, pandemic fine is a state of being in which you are employed and healthy during a pandemic but you’re also tired, depressed and feel like a bag of shit all the damn time. Yup, that about sums that up.

I started thinking about this past year. And since the days and months blurred together, I had completely forgotten that we were coming up on a full year of Covid. Can you believe that? An entire year of being afraid for our lives, losing loved ones, taking pay cuts or getting furloughed from our jobs and managing our sanity albeit, poorly. Let that take a moment to sink in. It has been a year being in lockdown (for those that took it seriously.) A year of not hugging your extended family and friends who don’t live in the same house as you. A year that your kids had no full time brick and mortar schooling. A year that you watched your friends and family members who were deemed essential fight for their lives and the safety of others every single day. A year when you truly realized the toll that it takes on ones self when your mental health is not stable.

This past year we were asked to do great things. So great that it has worn all of us down. It made us shells of who we once were. All of the structure of our routine days and even not so routine days, gone. None of us knowing when we will feel safe again. The days and nights blended together and continued becoming longer and longer. It made sense for me to unravel. When trauma this big goes unprocessed and undiscussed it starts to implode. I think the largest mistake we could make is to repress the trauma and pretend it will go away on its own. It won’t. Trust me.

So on this pandemic anniversary, embrace the shitty moments. Think about them. Talk about them. Even though it is hard. Try and talk about the positive moments too. I started to do it with the girls at dinner to see if it would help ease the tension in my mind. I asked them to think back when we started lockdown and to name one thing that they didn’t like and one thing that they really enjoyed. This past year was dark and shitty but there is a vaccine and a light at the end of the tunnel. As Amanda Gorman so eloquently said, “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” On this pandemic anniversary, I choose to see the light.

Changing Your Mindset

I have very high expectations for myself. Like really fucking high. And when I don’t hit my goals I am quite rocked by it. Why? Because I am Wonder Woman. I am “supposed” to be everything to everyone, help every single human around me, never say no to people and forever be burned out because of it. My mindset goal for last week was to focus on my small victories. My own personal victories and not anything I did for anyone else. I wrote a weak ass post that I was called out on (thanks ES) and was asked to write it again. I needed to write it better and with more meaning.

I didn’t want to for two reasons: I am all about helping others and because I have always been of the midset about getting to that big moment of crossing that finish line. I guess I didn’t really believe in small victories. I actually had a hard time thinking about small victories for myself. I had to google it. I know, how sad is that?! Was I really supposed to jump for joy if I found money in my pants pocket or get excited when I found an itch I could actually reach? Hey Google, thanks for those. Truly life-changing…..

It wasn’t until recently that I realized it is all about the small little victories along the way to get you over that finish line. My goal is to lose the stupid weight I put on over the last six months. It isn’t a terribly high amount but I’m unhappy and totally unmotivated. So, when you aren’t motivated everything becomes daunting and discouraging. So in fact, the small wins are what pushes you and helps get you to where that goal becomes manageable!

I was finally able to come up with small wins and victories that I will celebrate more: Friends that encourage you, blogs that inspire you, a good fucking hair day, opportunities to make a change, learning from my mistakes, a good solid deep breathing sesh, a good solid cry sesh (perhaps not in that order), saying no to someone, finding time for family and laughing.

I’ve learned that I can and will be the same Wonder Woman but just needed to shift my vision a little bit more to appreciate the opportunities of counting my blessings, being grateful and reflecting on how much I have accomplished, no matter how big or small!

Dear Anxiety…

We have known each other for quite some time. If I had to guess at specifics, I would have to say for most of my life since I was a teenager. There are some pretty amazing traits that you bring to the table, like how you alert me when there is something to warn me about. Or how you motivate me when I’m faced with a challenge. You have even made me; yes, me, the always glass half empty type of person more empathetic to what others may be going through. You have made me think about all of the things that can potentially go wrong and made me into the problem solver and leader I am today.

With all of that being said, you have held me back so much during my life. You are there when I need you and you are ALWAYS lurking in the background when I don’t need you. It is now time for us to part ways.

I am saying goodbye to being anxious about being anxious. I am saying goodbye to the racing heart for no reason. I am saying goodbye to the dizziness and my body shaking uncontrollably. I am saying goodbye to the constant pacing and always trying to be one step ahead of you.

Curating the list of tools in my toolbox to get you to go away has taken many years to create. It has been a daunting task. Taking deep breaths, writing my name one hundred times on a piece of paper, coloring, scrolling through social media to try and turn off my brain, or looking at pictures of my kids are only a few. You get smarter and try and trick me that none of these strategies will work. They eventually do though and you slowly start to fade away. Some days it’s over quick while other days it feels like it lasts the whole day because it does.

Anxiety, I want to thank you for all of the positives that you have brought to my life but it is time to start phasing all of the negative ones out. I am determined to not let you control my life any longer.

I can’t wait to start appreciating all of the little things in my life, starting NOW!

Sweep the leg

I unraveled last night and I’m not afraid to admit it. Unraveled like a giant ball of yarn. Every fucking day is like a roller coaster of emotions. So why was today different? Who knows really. I couldn’t handle the fighting between the girls at bed time and I just gave up. I told them to leave me alone and not to come find me because I was done. I unleashed a war with my husband and then the night just kept getting worse and worse by the second.

I had the most epic cry with my 6 year old. When I say epic, I think both of my kids went to bed at 9:30/10 due to this epic cry. We were all sitting together all nestled up tight and just cried. Cam was crying because she was so god damn tired and didn’t know what was going on. Harper and I knew why we were crying. We cried about her ending first grade so abruptly. We cried about not being able to see Grammy, the boys, her new baby cousin and her aunties. We cried about life not being what it used to be. Then she looks up and says, “well, auntie will fix this so don’t worry”. I cried harder because as strong as she knows her auntie is, auntie can’t fix this right now. Part of me in that moment wanted to be a kid again. Although they are clearly affected by this, they still have this positive outlook. I wish I had a glimmer of her positivity. I don’t. This whole thing has made me even more jaded. More scared. More anxious. More negative. More angry.

As we gained our breath back and looked at each other with our crazy puffy faces and red eyes, I had one small nugget of gratitude. An extremely sad but also incredible moment happened during all of this that will never be lost on me. Both of my girls came to give me hugs and check on me when I was at my lowest point. Camryn asked me why I was crying and kept saying that I was ok. Harper came over and wouldn’t stop apologizing for me not being able to see my family because she knew I missed them. We have raised such incredible little girls with the kindest hearts and mounds of empathy for others. For that, I am thankful.

After crying for several hours with my kids and having a massive headache, I feel asleep when they did. Writing this in two sessions didn’t make me feel any better. I was hoping that since I finally went to bed at a semi decent hour I would feel refreshed. Nope, not at all. Woke up with a pounding headache and felt like I was sucker punched in the gut and had a Cobra Kai come out of nowhere and sweep the leg.

In order for me to keep my chronic anxiety at bay, I take a lot on. Actually a million things on, let’s be more realistic. Having struggled with anxiety for some ungodly amount of time at this point, my method works. Pile on as much shit you can bear and continue doing that until you break. For me, breaking doesn’t come all that often, but when it does, I break hard. Really fucking hard. Most times with one hell of a panic attack. Tonight it was sponsored by tears instead of panic. And no, I’m not complaining. I will take tears over panic any day.

People in whatever category you want to put me under are always the strong ones. We are always the ones that hold everything together, well, we look like we hold it together. We are always the ones that take other burdens on because we genuinely like to and it gets us out of dealing with our own shit so I typically welcome anyone else’s shit to deal with. Right now, like most, I am managing a household, working full-time and consulting part-time (but now from home), dealing with two children who are struggling coping with their new normal, a husband who is now realizing his own mental health constraints and dealing with the fact that my entire family are all essential employees. Let that sink in for a minute. All are essential employees.

My dad seems like the lowest risk safety-wise since the campus is closed and lack of people that he has to encounter. My youngest sister who just had a baby is returning to work after most of her maternity leave was stripped away from her due to this virus. You know the time where you need people the most so you don’t do anything to harm your newborn who just cries, shits and eat all day and night and doesn’t really want to sleep. Then there is my mom. She is in the hospital setting managing supply chain for sterile processing and material management. She is the rock star with the PPE for her whole hospital and her department are the ones sterilizing all equipment and continuing to keep hospital staff safe. Last but certainly not least, there is my middle sister Kerin, a nurse on an all covid floor. She has been stripped away from what she has grown accustom to nursing actually being. You can’t comfort patients like you used to, you can’t comfort their family members like you used to. Everything she was taught and knows what’s right in her heart has completely been taken from her. Never have I ever been more scared and more proud of my family in all of my life.

I spend a portion of each day securing PPE for my family and the hospitals they work for, donating food and keeping the spirits up of the nursing staff on my sister’s floor and making sure she can continue fighting this battle with as much strength as she has each and every day. But, she is tired. They all are tired. That is what gives me the strength to keep doing what I do. At the end of the day, family is family and I will go to the ends of the earth to protect mine even if it means that I have this very much needed breakdown I had last night.