“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” – Unknown
Today I just needed to cry. I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and separation. Being a 29 year old single woman who lives alone has been really hard in a time like this. Add to it that I’m a Registered Nurse, and the emotions and feelings of anxiety double, triple … hell they’re in a league all their own.
I’m usually a pretty grateful person. I do a gratitude journal every morning along with my Bible study and a few other things. I drink my coffee and thank God for the multitude of blessings He’s given me. I have so much to be thankful for and very little to complain about.
Yet, here I find myself in my living room floor crying because I’m so overwhelmed with life right now. It’s the most normal chaos I’ve ever experienced. Nothing outside is crazy, everything is actually quiet and still. There’s very few cars or people anywhere you look.
You’d think that this solitude would be a nice change from the normal hustle and bustle of living in a big city, a city that is usually full of life, but really all I feel when I look at my quiet, docile city is depression.
The world is a crazy place right now.
Never in my lifetime did I think I would see something as unprecedented as this Coronavirus Pandemic. I’m an Infectious Disease RN at a hospital so when this all started I couldn’t figure out why everyone was so hysterical. I thought, “man if only people could see the type of diseases I treat everyday, they wouldn’t be so scared of this COVID-19.”
But, not long after that I understood the chaos and panic.
Little by little I started seeing new statistics and information about what was happening in the rest of the world, and I quickly realized why they were so scared. To be completely honest, it’s not the virus that’s the monster in my mind, it’s the social isolation that has felt extremely crippling to my mental health.
Everyone who struggles with mental health has a certain way of coping with it because we know our disorder will never completely go away. So instead of living in fear of our anxiety and/or depression, we learn to adapt our lives to it.
For some of us, this means taking a lot of “me” time where we can stay away from crowds and chaos. For others, that means being around family and friends in social situations where we don’t have to listen to the constant chatter in our heads.
This is me, this is my strategy for dealing with my disorder.
Yet, when this new virus finally hit, the option to get out of the house and socialize was taken away from me. I fully understand the reasoning and purpose of the shelter in place order, and I’ve abided by it. Having said that, one of the biggest triggers for my anxiety is having my options taken away.
When I feel like my freedom has been compromised in any way, I lose my shit. As Americans we’re given so many luxuries like planning our days and (most of the time) doing what our hearts desire. We can eat where we want, go to the gym, get our hair done, hang out with friends, go to sporting events … anything and everything is at our fingertips.
When those choices are taken away, I feel helpless and stuck.
I never truly realized how privileged I was until everything was shut down and taken away. I’ve been taking advantage of the wonderful country I call home, and now I honestly realize how blessed I am to live in America. I now genuinely understand why so many people want to be here, it’s the land of freedom and opportunity.
Recently I’ve seen friends losing their jobs, people struggling severely with their mental health, businesses hanging on by a thread and the world trying its best to adapt to this temporary new way of life. There’s no way we will ever be the same after this.
So, life has been a constant inner battle for me.
The Nurse in me says, “You have to be strong. You have to be an example to all of those you care about, those with less medical knowledge, because they’re scared. You can’t show weakness or others may start to panic.”
The anxious human in me says, “is this ever going to end? I’m so tired of being locked up. I’m starting to feel claustrophobic. I can’t make it one more day in this house. Why do they keep extending the date? If I don’t get out of here I’m going to lose it. I can’t do this much longer” … and on and on and on.
Every day that I wake up, I thank God for another opportunity to live this beautiful life, a privilege not all are given (there goes the Nurse in me again.) I also prepare for a mental battle, the realist vs the anxious. I prepare myself for the never ending chatter that will undoubtedly fill my mind most of the day.
I have no doubt that things will get better. We are a strong and united nation. Our country was built on resilience and has overcome every obstacle thrown its way thus far. The real question is, “How long will this quarantine last? When will life go back to normal?”
The realistic answer is, I don’t think it will go back to how it was. I believe we will come out of this situation with a new normal, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I imagine a lot of people will have a sense of gratitude that they never had before (including me). I think that businesses will thrive, and we will be a little more inclined to help our neighbors.
I truly believe so much good will come out of this. Once the storm passes, we will see our lives in a whole new light. We’ll be thankful that we have a job to go to, that we can hug our family and friends, that we can once again plan our days as we wish.
I trust that those of us struggling with our mental health will once again restore the balance in our minds, and I pray that all of these positive predictions will come true …
But for now, today is tough.
Myka Shantell 💋