I think there is so much that I’m feeling about this pandemic and everything having to do with it, that I don’t actually know what it is that I’m feeling sometimes.
In 2012, after YEARS of not knowing what was wrong with me, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so I’m familiar with those feelings and physical sensations that go along with it. There is a little background anxiety during this time, but not like I’ve experienced before.
I guess with such a large situation happening all over the planet, I’d figure I’d be having massive panic attacks...and I’m just not. The anxiety is mild, at least compared to the incapacitating attacks that I have experienced before that literally prevent me from taking care of my own basic needs.
This is more like annoying.
Like I am asking myself, what is this strange feeling I’m feeling?
Is it depression?
Yeah, a little bit of that. The kind that makes me feel like, what’s the point of doing pretty much anything anymore? Why take a shower? Why wear anything other than sweatpants all day, every day? Might as well eat all the snacks in the house, slide through lunch to a half-assed attempt at making dinner.
The clean towels are folded, but not as nice as usual. My hair gets washed, but not until it looks like a massive oil slick in the Atlantic Ocean. The house gets cleaned...sort of. And when I’m helping my kid with his school, it feels like I am trudging through neuroscience textbooks.
Sometimes, like today, I am so very tired. So, so tired.
For the last few nights, I haven’t slept well AT ALL.
I mean, total shit sleep.
Blankets that slide off and twist.
Laying there, staring at the little green light that shines down from the smoke alarm, hearing all the sounds of the house, the snoring husband, the neighbor’s dogs...people walking down the street after midnight. Why?
I’ve been having scary dreams.
And not what you’d think.
Nothing to do with my family or the pandemic or things that I think about in real life. These are dreams of weirdness. Turning, volatile dreams that don’t make sense but terrify me none the less.
Last night I woke up to the sound of my own scream...actually it sounded more like a muffled swamp animal emerging from the depths. So that was fun.
So, its anxiety, depression, terrorizing dreams...
Of course, there is the hypervigilance.
How can a person be so, so tired, and yet be so completely aware of everything? The ticking of the clocks around the house. All out of sync, mind you. Those damn ravens and their show-off vocals. An odd sound from a few blocks away that I can hear THROUGH-THE-CLOSED-WINDOWS. Splatters of paint on parts of the house that have never been seen before. Noticing literally EVERYTHING that needs to be done, thoughts that need to be ‘thunk’, cares that need to be taken.
I have always been more sensitive than average to sounds, fast activity, high energy. This, however, is a new level of crazy for me. Pretty sure the exhaustion is mostly due to the hypervigilance.
And why can’t I stop eating?
I’ve never in my life been a stress eater. In fact, its been the opposite. But now, it's like I just want to eat stuff. All. Day. Long.
There’s this melancholy impression.
Like a nothingness.
It makes me stare into the empty space around me, eyes fading out into blur...and there’s just nothing. No thoughts. No movement. No words. It's like my brain gives up, “Fuck it.” it says. And it’s not even laced with intense emotion. It's more kin to complete NON-emotion. It makes my eyes want to shut and my body melt to the floor...into the floor, to become part of the wood.
I keep starting projects that I don’t even know why I started. It’s like I don’t take the time to ask, “Do I really want to be doing this?” so then, halfway through I just can’t take it anymore and give up and wonder what the actual hell I was thinking. It’s like I’m trying to busy my brain to keep it from melting down.
Cleaning the wood floors on my hands and knees???? Why?
Therapists are saying that even if we haven’t lost anyone during this time, many of us are going through the stages of grief. But it doesn’t feel right because we always feel like grief should be reserved for death.
We’re losing time with people we love. Our way of life. We’ve lost stability and schedule. Some of us have lost the outlet of social gatherings that make us feel ‘right’...others have lost our much-needed alone time. That’s me. Some have lost jobs and may lose their homes...We’ve lost the feeling of being able to count on simple things like food and toilet paper and cleaning supplies, things we use in daily life.
One of the biggest things for me is that the entire world is going through this. In hard times, I’ve been able to fall back on the idea that if my mind takes a nose dive, or if things in my personal life go to shit, at least SOMEONE around me can help me back up. This time, EVERYONE is grappling for reality. And that makes me feel like there is no one to help because everyone is busy trying to help themself and I shouldn’t bother them.
Not knowing what is going to happen sucks. Will our little city be obliterated because of the economy? What about the new business that we started, will it ever come to fruition? Will I be able to take my son anywhere but on a walk, a bike ride or play in the yard this summer...when will he be able to see another child in person? When can I hug my parents again...spend time with friends...go to the grocery store without feeling “odd”? How is this going to change how we do business in the future and interact with each other? When will it be okay to shake someone’s hand on the street again or walk closer than 6 feet apart?
So many questions.
I struggle with the unknown.
I like plans and I understand things don’t always work out as planned. Its something I have been working on, to just let go. Well, I guess this is the best opportunity to grow in that area. To just let what is, be.
But man, it takes a lot of energy.
I get very angry sometimes.
I want to blame someone and knock their head off.
I get sad and cry.
I feel weird.
Sometimes I feel like I am actually losing my mind and start acting loony like my 9-year-old after eating a full box of Lucky Charms. So, we run around the house, flail our bodies on the floor, laugh and scream and kick pillows until we’ve run out of steam.
And then, the calm.
A string of days run together that seem almost normal. I feel pretty happy, I shrug stuff off, I feel like everything will be okay and there’s nothing to worry about. We’ll get through this...things will be different, and we may have to navigate through rough terrain and adjust, but it will get better. And I’m good.
But it’s an eerie good.
Because I know, lurking in the shadows of my mind are those little shreds of unacknowledged emotion, waiting to boil over the next time the pot gets too hot.
Sometimes I feel guilty for not having my shit together better right now. I’ve done sooooooo much emotional healing, so much internal work over the past 8 years. I’ve come so far and learned so much, especially how to use my mind instead of it using me. I should know better. Do better.
But I’m really trying to give myself space to feel what needs to be felt so I don’t store it in the cells of my body where it expresses itself in pain and disease. I want to allow the unhealed parts of me to be heard and the unintegrated parts of me to feel safe.
I suppose this is just the way it’s going to be for a while.
Up and down.
Back and forth.
Its just going to have to be okay this way.
Sometimes there is no solution except to let things run its course.