Tell the people how I feel a second?
Okay, yes, Hamilton has permeated my bloodstream, but that’s a whole other conversation. Unfortunately, what I want to talk about is much less fun.
I’m not doing well with this pandemic stuff lately.
I, probably like most of us, have been like a swinging pendulum between “Good things will come from this! It’s temporary! We can get through it!” and “This is terrifying…I want to live my life…I just want this to be over…” and other much less optimistic thoughts.
I still believe good things have and will come from this time, and that God is doing things we are unaware of in our world through it, but right now, I’m feeling all the frustrated and depressed and uncertain feelings much more strongly.
See, before all this started in early March, I (and my family) had been living the Quarantine Life, for all intents and purposes, for about three years, due to my depression, anxiety, Social Anxiety, and OCD. I have been working my tail off to start healing from the cPTSD (complex PTSD, brought on by ongoing trauma) that has been causing these issues my whole life, but was awoken in full force by postpartum depression when Ducky was born and then really blown open in fall 2016. It was, for a very long time, tiny, miniscule baby steps forward, and some pretty major and frustrating setbacks. Last June I had a major- and very intense- breakthrough that brought me freedom at a gently accelerating rate, and by Christmas was able to spend the holiday with my extended family at my parents house-a huge milestone, the first time I was able to enjoy being in a room full of that many people for an entire day in about four and a half years. Before October, I hadn’t been around more than 5 people at once since July 2017. Things continued to heal and improve for me through the winter, and on March 1 of this year, Lexi and I went to a concert. Thousands of people,packed like sardines in bleachers, being touched by strangers on all sides…my own personal nightmare these past few years. But God was with me, fighting the battles, and it was truly one of the best nights of my life (it’s a whole thing I’ve written about that maybe I’ll share at some point), leading me to realize how far i really had come and how ready I felt to slowly but consistently get back to living my life. I realized I am stronger, and that even in situations that felt a little uncomfortable, if I just put one foot in front of the other, progress and freedom, and joy would come. I was more excited about life than I could remember being in five years.
And, what…days later, the world shut down. It was like a six inch thick blast door came sliding down milimeters in front of my toes. I’m fighting tears right now, because I am so frustrated. I worked so hard to come that far. I don’t know what you know about OCD and exposure therapy, but it’s a lot about consistency, about building and stretching just a little further. It’s like building muscular strength. You lift a weight you can handle for, say, eight reps, until that becomes easy, then you add a little more weight, and a little more, and you get stronger over time. For this illustration, say you’ve worked up to 25lb weights for your bicep curl. Cool. 30’s and beyond are on your horizon. Then someone comes and takes your weights. All but the threes. And you don’t know how long they are gonna hold onto them, how long it’s gonna be before you get to lift even that weight again, let alone those 30’s and heavier that you were looking forward to. Are you going to lose progress? How much? When you do get your weights back are you going to have to start back at the beginning? There’s no real way of knowing. I have hope that muscle memory will kick in, and whatever progress I’ve lost will come back quickly, but that question is so scary and frustrating to me.
When others complain about (or worse refuse to) staying home, or how long this has been going on- I get it. More than you know, I have empathy for you. But at the same time, i just want to RAGE because I have been living this for three and a half years! you think YOU are sick of it? I wish i had a way to explain the defeat and frustration that i feel every single day this goes on. The way the isolation is unbearable but being around people in the middle of a pandemic is impossible for me due to the fact that the OCD is still (and will always be, to some degree) part of me.As i see people begin to be social, even in safe ways, It’s like they took my 25 pound dumbells, and put 50’s just out of my reach. I have access to them, but they are way more than I can handle.
Agency has been a big word in my healing journey, and it’s one of the biggest things I’m mourning the absence of right now. I want to heal and grow and go places with my family, i want to see my friends, i want to be free. I want to (with God’s hands on my back) set my own pace and keep moving forward toward living again in a way I’ve been missing the past five and a quarter years. But the Rona.
It also is tearing my mind to pieces that it seems there is nobody to trust as far as the safety of doing anything. Every informational outlet has an agenda and it seems nobody can just give facts, because everyone’s facts are different and skewed to support their own agenda. Politics has trumped (ugh) truth and my brain hurts. People refuse to do the simple small things they can (keep distance, stay home mostly, mask up in indoor or crowded space) that could shorten this for all of us in the name of “freedom.” Look, y’all, I am all for medical liberty, and I get the whole “slippery slope” dealie, I DO. And when this has passed I will continue to be in the camp of supporting that- but if we don’t prioritize getting this the heck over with, I’m going to lose it. YOUR fight for “liberty” by refusing to do this tiny thing is threatening MY liberty. How?
I (nor my children) have not left my house since MARCH FIRST. Because how can I feel like it’s safe to do anything when all I see is people complaining about liberty and the resulting surges in this illness. Whatever you personally believe about the death rates, severity, whatever, it’s time to think of someone other than yourself. Think of the people who will die or get extremely ill if they contract this illness. Think of the fact that we know so little about its long term effects, even in mild cases. Think about people like me that have to err on the side of safety to be sane and are not going to be able to a gosh darn thing outside their homes until you get the heck over yourself. Think about my amazing daughter who is turning eight in a week and hasn’t been able to have a party since she was four because of my anxiety but was for sure having one this year until The Rona and probably would be if y’all had gotten your acts together sooner.
All the things you feel so much urgency about if you’re not following simple advice would be possible safely SOONER if you just would.
But we need to get back to work– yup, so wear your mask.
But we need to get the kids back in school– stay home from close contact places.
But FUN– social distance and have fun outdoors.
I’m sorry if I don’t have sympathy for you if you’re doing stupid stuff in the name of “I’ve been stuck in the house for sooooo long!” No you haven’t. Let’s talk. And if you wanna come at me with “But you’ve chosen to stay home…” I got 2 words, seven letters for you. It has not been a choice. Asking me to do what I can’t is like asking someone with a broken leg to run a marathon.
If I sound angry, it’s because I am. I am so sick of this. I am so sick of being stuck in my house. I’m sick of being scared. I’m sick of agendas and not knowing who to trust. I’m sick of having my agency stripped.
I know that God is doing big things in me and in our world through this. I know it. But I also know that I’m struggling.
thanks for coming to my TED talk.