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.

Friend, I see you.

First, thank you all for reading my blog. I wanted to create a space where I can openly talk about the “hard” things in life and I am working very hard to create that space.

I was inspired to write this entry by one friend in particular and when I decided to write this post- I guess it made me more aware of other friends, and even myself that have also fallen victim to these thoughts.

I hope you see that I am coming from a place of love and want nothing but the best.

Dear Friend,

I know you feel invisible but I wanted you to know that I see you. I see the hard work you put in each and every day because you are me- we are the same.

Each morning, you rise from bed, exhausted. I bet you are wondering if you might steal a quick moment for rest some time in your very busy day before your feet hit the ground.

I bet by the time you pour that first cup of coffee you have abandoned your plan for a moment’s rest in lieu of just going to bed earlier.

We both know that’s not going to happen.

You get the kids ready, it’s difficult because one can’t find their shoes and the other still wont get out of bed. They will just have to buy lunch today- you need to remember to add money to their accounts.

You’re stressed – because you have a meeting with your boss today, who is very much single and childless and therefore not sympathetic. Maybe they will give that promotion you deserve to Jenkins because she’s hungry-af.

Your husband, who has been sleeping gets up, get’s ready for work, grabs breakfast and coffee to go, kisses you on the cheek, hollers goodbye to the kids and is out the door.

Must be nice.

You drop the kid’s off at school, only to realize that child #2 forgot their lunch. You circle back only to run right into Ms. Schwarz, who makes you feel like shit for not every being able to volunteer as classroom mom.

You get to work, late. Jenkin’s eager-ass is already in the meeting and she had time to get donuts, and not just any donut- she stopped and got some bougie donuts that are so insta-worthy you could die.

Fucking. Jenkins.

Friend, I see you.

You finish the meeting, go about your work day which is a non-plus. You then sit in traffic on the way home to pick up the kids. Dinner is going to be a challenge because your husband said he would stop on the way home but now he has to work late and you didn’t have time to grocery shop this weekend.

Nonetheless you manage to find something that the kids will all eat.

Bath time.

Did the oldest have a project due?

Is homework done?

Wait, did I just hear my work email go off on my phone?

Your husband gets home. He’s had a hard day and isn’t very talkative- he complains that the house is messy and goes off to play Xbox with his friends who are waiting on him to join them.

It’s now 9pm and you go take a shower and silently cry.

You cry because you are so tired.

You cry because you are afraid you are a bad mother.

You cry because your husband doesn’t help.

You cry because you work your ass off at work, are entirely capable, and that promotion that should be yours went to Jenkins.

You cry because you feel like a failure.

You cry because you think you are alone in this, that no one else is as bad at this as you are.

Friend, I see you.

I AM YOU.

You are not a failure.

YOU are not a failure

YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE!

Friend, I see you .

I see the caring, wonderful woman that you are.

I see a person who puts the needs of their family above their own.

I see a person who works so hard to do such a good job at work to be able to be that second stream of income for their family.

I see you push your dreams aside for the development of your husband’s and children’s dreams.

Friend, I believe in you and I want you to know that you are not a failure.

I wish you could see your position in the world the way that I see it.

I wish that you could forgive yourself and let go of that fucking mommy guilt.

You are doing the best you that you can and your “best” is good enough.

You are good enough.

Please, please, please know that.

Friend, what I want you to understand is that it is okay to have a messy house, it is okay to not volunteer for the class mom bullshit, it is okay to let Jenkins get that promotion (you and I both know she will fuck it up anyway).

The failure you feel, is self-imposed. I know it is hard to hear, it was hard for me too. Remove the pressure you put on yourself. Quit focusing on the moments in the day where your feel like a failure and look at the moments when you were so clearly crushing it.

Examples: You helped your daughter with her with homework- did you know that she has struggled to learn that topic until you sat down with her? That is a win.

Or what about your ability to MacGyver the shit out of dinner- did you know that your kitchen skills are inspiring your son to be a chef?

Mommy guilt is a self-imposed prison.

Friend, I see you…

Can you see me?