On Grieving During A National Crisis...
I don't have much to say. Other than that I'm struggling. One of my jobs is to be a positive role model and force to cheer people up on the internet, and most days I'm barely getting through the day. That's how many people feel now as well. The anxiety of economics, class struggle, access to healthcare, insanity politics and worry about our loved ones make up a lot of our days now, and let me tell you, this couldn't have arrived at a worse time for my family after the death of my mother.
I wish I could say I have answers, but I don't. I don't think most people do. We're coping. Treading water, and trying to stay sane. I have nightmares about my mother's horrible last week on earth most nights, I cry myself to sleep daily, and I've never had more sympathy for those with OCD than I do now. I barely leave the house, but when we pick up groceries, we wipe down every item with bleach solution (which we're running low on) and I wipe down everything that we touch daily. The idea that I could contribute to another death (not to mention many more than that) after watching my mothers eyes stop focusing is too much for me to deal with right now.
I have to keep telling myself this isn't a time for great strides, it's ok that I'm not in as good of shape as I was 6 months ago. It's ok that I'm making less money. It's ok that many opportunities have dried up. I find myself grieving not only the horrible way in which I lost my mother, but also all of the work I've put into my career and health in the last several years. It feels like it's all slipping through my fingers, and like any semblance of joy in my life is over.
What I'm learning, is that in times of crisis, it's time to survive. It's time to prioritize, and it's time to be patient (even when that is alarmingly unfair). These are the ways I'm coping:
1. I'm leaning on substances. I try to stay very natural for the most part, as I always get side effects from everything and I'm terrified to develop a dependency on a crutch that I can never be without. This is not the time to torture yourself. Drink the wine, take the Advil, take the allergy medication, take something to be able to sleep sometimes. I'm not interested in trying SSRI's at this point in my life, but if you need that, give yourself permission. There's no shame in using all the tools we have at our disposal in 2020, to try to... survive 2020.
2. Exercise. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's not about calories, it's not about a 6 pack, it's about surviving. Moving your body WILL give you more hormones that will take the edge off. It's a fact, and some days all I'm able to do is walk. I go out and walk for hours, and it makes the difference between screaming and crying to being able to sit up and function.
3. Schedule. Make yourself do a few things you don't want to do every day so you can enjoy things that are typically only allowed in leisure time. Don't sit and watch TV all day, not because there's anything wrong with it, but because the too much of anything becomes counterproductive. Take a nap, meditate, stretch, listen to a podcast, cook a meal, shower, stare at the wall.. do anything you can do to break up the monotony. Even now, we have some control over our day. It makes a big difference.
4. Cry. This is the worst period of my life. I hope your time isn't like mine, but if you're a healthcare worker, I bet your time is like mine times 1000. There's no bandage to put over this. It's horrible. People are dying and losing their homes. The selfish are more selfish. Go to your bed and cry. You have to let it out somehow. If you prolong feeling how you're feeling now, you'll just feel it more later. It never goes away.
5. If there's anything in the world that can make you laugh right now, do it. I couldn't watch anything besides the Office for weeks. Any drama or conflict in shows and books would just make me weep uncontrollably and if anything, make me feel worse. I've found the Office, stand up comedy, TikTok videos, and Jackbox.tv games with friends and wine to be immensely good for a two hour distraction when nothing else works.
With very few comforts in the world right now, indulge what you can, when you can. Give yourself permission to rest and to heal. For many of us, the world will never be the same.