Quarantine: Can We Talk About Mental Health Now?

I believe that proper Quarantine Etiquette dictates that I am supposed to start this blog with, “The world has changed so much…” I mean, it has, but at the same time that phrase and many other Covid catch phrases like “We’re all in the same boat,” “the flu is deadlier,” “ma’am, you still have to wear pants at the grocery store,” and just about every news headline ever written in this weird-ass time is annoying to me.

Actually, a lot of things are annoying to me. Why? Because, I am stressed out. Duh! My husband lost his job, my check isn’t big enough to cover all the bills and since we were under his insurance I had to switch us over to mine and that took a $650 hit to each paycheck (my husband’s job it was $400 each paycheck).

Financially, we were hit hard. Our daughter’s medical bills were already taking us down the drain and now this.

My company actually did do layoffs and I survived which left me with a lot of survivor’s guilt and whole bunch of extra work in my lap. More work and less pay. Wonderful!

But this isn’t about the hardships we are facing on a personal level. No. We have stress but I know that there are some people who have it worse and others who have it better. That is just how life is.

However, what I am here to talk about it is mental health.

The world, the entire world, has just experienced a crash course in Mental Health 101. Every day I open up my social media to a new friend who just had her first panic attack, to a post about starting the day drinking, to a frontline worker that is so worried that they are going to bring the virus home to their family they are hiding in their car crying, to an essential worker doing the same thing, to another friend who is watching their spouse fight for their life alone in the ICU and she is left home alone to wait and worry unable to even communicate with him, to a young mom who lost her job and is so worried about her situation that she now has shingles (actually 2 friends have it).

Every day it is something new and I am so tired of seeing the replies to the posts of “we’re all in the same boat, just hang in there.” NO! We are not in the same boat. As I mentioned above some have it better and others do not but that doesn’t fucking matter- we are all experiencing new and real shit and we are allowed to feel a certain type of way. I think a more accurate assessment is that we are all on the same planet, dealing with the same virus, and after that is where things start to differ for each person. So, if you must lump us into a group, you can say, “we’re all on the same planet,” whatever.

I want to say, thank you to my friends who are real and raw in their emotions who are out there telling people that they are not okay. Because IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY and I will scream that from the roof tops as quickly and as loudly as I type the words on this screen (I am a fast and loud typist).

Talk about your mental struggles- put it out there! THAT IS NORMAL. We aren’t meant to know and understand the secrets of the Universe and so shit gets weird sometimes and we have to process that and we all do that differently. Friends, I think we can all agree literally nothing makes sense. I mean, last week the government was denying the existence of UFOs and now they are confirming it. WHAT?! Seriously, why now? Wasn’t it like 7 months ago everyone wanted to storm Area 51- where was the government’s confession then? I digress…

I think it is really hard for some people to reconcile that the world changed over night. We all saw it happen and we are living it day to day but we cannot align our previous reality to our new reality, and that is okay. Like I said, we all process things differently and in our own time.

But while Covid captivated the attention of our world leaders and pretty much everyone else… something else was taking a foothold in our society.

Depression.

Anxiety.

Panic.

Fear.

Stress.

Hopelessness.

Suicide is now on the rise.

Domestic abuse is on the rise.

Child molestation is on the rise.

Alcoholism is on the rise.

Why? Because, as a society, we don’t know how to handle the hard shit that gets thrown our way and when we do make our cries for help people down play it and tell you that you are over-reacting.

It isn’t our fault- it has been ingrained in our culture that we have to ignore the bad things – just pretend they don’t exist; and, for many, Covid and quarantine are the first bad things that they cannot ignore.

I am somewhat sorry to say that we were raised in a world that doesn’t exist anymore, like I said, we all just got a crash course in what it is like to battle for stability with our mental health.

So why not move forward into this new world where we raise our children to recognize the signs of an inner struggle within themselves and others?

Why not teach them that it is okay to not be okay?

Why not teach them that when we struggle with our own mental health that we need to voice that and we will embrace their vulnerability and help guide them to the other side of that storm?

Why not teach them not to shy away from a friend that confides in them that they, too, struggle with mental health?

Why not talk about mental health, we all see how vitally important it is to our very basic need to survive?

The world has changed. That is a fact. What we are left with is an opportunity. We have an opportunity to take this new world and mold it into something better for all of us… I hope we do.

Supermom

I have something Dark within me.

I try my best to ignore the Darkness. I tell the Darkness it has no place in my life and I remind myself of all the light I have within me. Most days that is enough to keep the Darkness from enveloping my soul.

I have battled this Darkness for 20 years and right now my resolve is wavering.

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would no longer fight this battle in silence and I started writing about it and posting it to my social media. To this day, I have kept that promise.

You see, I feel that when I publicly address my depression, I give my depression no room to hide. I force my depression out into the light where it has to answer for itself. I take away it’s power over me.

So, unlike most everyone else with a mental illness, I battle mine out loud.

One by-product of battling out loud is that I am frequently called things like “brave” or “Supermom” for choosing to speak when so many remain quiet. However, I really don’t like it. I don’t feel brave or like Supermom and I am doing this for my own selfish reasons.

I am not brave.

I am scared that the Darkness is right about me.

I am scared that I belong in the Darkness.

That I deserve the Darkness.

I am coming up on the 1 year anniversary of my life turning to shit, starting with my health, then a few hard financial blows, then my daughter developing a seizure disorder, followed up by some more hard financial blows. Currently, I am writing this from my office wrapped up in a big blanket, hot tea to the left of me as I am sick with pneumonia. What next?!

But as I sit here, and try to divine what to say, I struggle.

I am drawn to the Darkness.

I feel the pull of the void, but I won’t answer.

The Darkness grows restless inside me.

This “Supermom” feels like she is locked in a room of Kryptonite.

This false warrior is not brave at all.

My composure and my delicate grasp on my depression are falling apart. I feel like I am broken in a 100 different ways but I haven’t shattered yet… but the slightest bit of pressure will cause a collapse…

I have openly talked about my use of cannabis/CBD to treat my auto-immune disease as well as my anxiety. I definitely believe in the healing powers of cannabis. However, in this case, I waiver. I am not sure if I can get myself out of this on my own (like I have done in the past) and I don’t think there will be enough CBD to help either.

While at the doctor for my pneumonia check up, my doctor brought up that I had gained weight and that my smile didn’t touch my eyes. I told her about my life stressors and she brought up going back on Wellbutrin, an antidepressant I am very familiar with.

I accepted the prescription but I have not filled it.

Filling it would be me admitting to myself that I am not okay…

Like I am now…

I am not okay.

I have always said that I am my own worst enemy and admitting that I am not alright to you is one thing, admitting that to myself is entirely different.

I need to give myself the Grace I would give others but I am not there yet.