Lets Ratchet This Up a Notch Shall We

Today was supposed to be a blog about all the questions running through my mind while this COVID-19 overtakes the lives of everyone, everywhere but I’m going to put that on hold because today I am totally and completely FREAKING OUT!!

Yesterday I went to the grocery store with my husband. Our mutual friend works there in the dairy department. He was looking horrible and has been losing a lot of weight probably due to the 70-80 hour work week he has been having for the last almost two months. So I decided he needed a hug because hey everyone needs some love.

Today that same friend called my husband and said that his mother, who lives with him and his son, tested positive for COVID-19 and he had a fever as well. I may have had a mental panic bomb go off in my head as I started asking a thousand questions like:

“Is she okay?”
“Is he okay?”
“How did this happen?”
“What if we get it?”
“What if we give it to [his] mom?”
“What about work?”
“What if one of us dies?”
“What if you die?”
“Will you be able to cope if I die?”
“Do you know how to balance the checkbook and pay the bills if I’m down?”
“Do we have enough food for two weeks?”
“I have a fever. Does that mean I have it?”
“My chest hurts. Is that anxiety or am I going to die?”

When COVID-19 first appeared on our country’s radar I felt like it was “over there.” Then it hit the USA and ever since I feel like it’s a stalker trying to find its way into every crack and crevice it can find to infect people. It was in NJ but it wasn’t here in my neighborhood. Now it has crept its way into my home and my mind. It found me despite me trying to hide and cover my mouth and nose so it could not creep its way into my body and destroy it like the Death Star destroyed Alderaan.

I know that there is a high probability that I don’t have Corona Virus. My anxiety is on overdrive right now creating psychosomatic symptoms probably. But my stress is real. The fear is real. So I’m going to do more coloring today to try to be rational in a very irrational world right now. Stay safe friends.

Credit for art below goes to Alireza Pakdel from Iran.

Coronavirus Art

Sometimes Not Knowing The Whole Truth Is A Good Thing

Today was exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. My cats decided that 5AM was the perfect time to start rampaging around my bedroom and knocking things over. Tried to give them 3 changes to calm down then kicked them both out. Got basically a total of 4 hours of sleep.

So on to work in my home office which is drowning in paperwork and various debris related to work. I put in some notes about how crazy all the parents are feeling, how stressed and how despite this they are doing their damn best. I feel like there should be a gold star options in my notes to say THIS ONE IS REALLY TRYING so that the state can see how awesome these parents are at taking care of their children with special needs during this pandemic.

Then 9:30AM rolled around and it’s time for our Team Meeting. I was looking forward to this as we all decided that today will be hat day and I was rocking my Philadelphia Eagles NFC Championship hat from the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl. We had fun, we got caught up with each other, we laughed, we learned…and then…

Our CEO joined our team meeting towards the end. Apparently she was supposed to be there the whole time but was having technical difficulties. After praising us for all our hard work she proceeded to tell us that we will most likely not be returning to our office for about 6-8 months. My jaw dropped and I was stunned, but because I am now a Team Lead, I have to maintain a modicum of dignity so I silently stared at the screen and smiled stupidly. The meeting eventually ended and we all logged off to go work for the rest of the day.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to break down and scream and yell and stomp my feet like a two year old and scream “IT’S NOT FAIR!!” until I was blue in the face. Why? Because I miss my co-workers. I miss real human interaction. I miss hugs and laughs and real connection. Most days I just kind of float through work in some kind of haze. I don’t even know how I get to my end time some days. It’s just work, work, work, and no interaction other then work related stuff. I want to walk down the halls and visit our secretaries. I want to see my co-workers all over the building laughing and smiling and rolling our eyes at some new thing a parent said or did or a new policy that has been rolled out.

I know I am lucky I am still working. I know I am not a doctor, nurse, or grocery store employee. But my job is essential and I feel myself and my co-workers deserve some recognition. We are providing mental health services to children all over the state and helping families cope with all of this. We are teaching kids how to feed themselves, how to be potty trained, how to communicate. Without these services many of our children would fall apart. We have dedicated therapists that still go into these homes and work with children that are tired, cranky, hyperactive, bouncing off the walls, suicidal, homicidal, abusing drugs, being abused…the list goes on and on.

I don’t even really know the point of this post. I just really miss real live people.

 

 

Because of COVID-19

Because of COVID-19

I work from home 5 days a week and spend 9-10 hours a day staring at my computer
I don’t get to see my co-workers except on a screen
I ache because I can’t offer in person support
I miss kiddos and parents I work with
I can’t concentrate or sit at my desk consistently.

Because of COVID-19

I have missed out on many community activities I looked forward to
I will most likely not get to recharge my soul at the beach this year
I cannot go to church or my book club in person
I will spend my birthday in quarantine

Because of COVID-19

I have to wear a mask to go to any store
I have to ignore the claustrophobia that overtakes me when I wear a mask
I have to hold my temper when someone else is NOT wearing a mask in public
I have to look at masks all over parking lots because people won’t throw them out
I have washed my hands until they are raw

Because of COVID-19

I see people getting sick and some dying
I see people pretending this is “no big deal” or thinking “it’s not real”
I see parents ready to pull their hair out because being a teacher and parent is hard.
I see teachers pulling their hair out because being a parent and teacher is hard.

Because of COVID-19

I appreciate what I had before a lot more
I have seen neighbors take care of each other
I have seen teachers get the recognition they deserve for how hard they work
I have seen meals delivered to our ER and ICU by neighbors wanting to show some love
I have learned to utilize every coping skill known to me to cope.

Because of COVID-19

I feel things will never be the same again
I also feel maybe they shouldn’t be.

A Creeping Loss of Normal

The week of March 15th-22nd  was the last time the grocery store  I shop at had its last full shopping ad. Now it is a one page double sided ad with very little on sale and even if it’s not on sale, not much can be found. Pasta is wiped out, canned goods are gone, finding toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, and any kind of disinfectant has become like a search for the Holy Grail.

March 17th was the last day I remember being able to work in my office. Now I work from home. I do video conferences with parents who are going out of their minds trying to educate their special needs children and also get them to sit still long enough to do anything. It’s nice not to have to drive all over the place but I miss seeing my parents and kiddos in person.

Also on March 17th there were 267 people in my state diagnosed with COVID-19 and 3 had died. As of today, April 12th, there are 61,850 people diagnosed and 2,350 deaths. It took only 26 days for this virus to get so out of control. That’s not even a full month yet.

On April 4th I saw a lot more people wearing masks and gloves in the stores while shopping. Initially it was only older people who were doing this but now more people around my age were wearing them. It was unnerving to say the least. There were taped lines you could not cross. You got warned to not step over the blue line to order your food from the deli. They had put up plastic barriers between the customers and the cashiers so we didn’t breathe on one another or God forbid accidentally sneeze on one another. People with allergies were never so hated as they are now.

This past week you were not allowed into the store unless you had some sort of face covering. My husband and I shopped wearing bandanas over our faces. You also had to wait to get into the grocery store because only a few people were allowed in the store at a time. It only took about seven minutes of waiting but it was weird to stand in line just to get into the grocery store. I saw my friend in line while I was there. I couldn’t even hug her because we all had to be SIX FEET APART AT ALL TIMES (said the booming voice of the security guards by the entrance.

I am a total introvert by every standard of the word but I miss being able to go out into the world to eat out, to go to the library (WHY is a library not considered essential when we are all stuck in our houses?!), literally any reason to get out of the house. My husband and I walk a few feet from the house to get the mail during the week because it has become the most exciting part of the day where we can get out of our house and breathe fresh air.

We are not prisoners. We are allowed to be outside and take walks but I don’t feel safe doing that. I want to be outside but at the same time I feel like everyone and everything is contaminated. I feel like I am contaminated and if I so much as breathe on anyone I am going to kill them. I know that sounds ridiculous but when I see the numbers I freak out. And there is so much fear being spread that I don’t know what is true or false anymore.

I don’t know if things will ever go back to normal even once this crisis passes. I think it is going to leave an indelible mark on all of us. Some for the good. Some for the worse. But nobody is going to come out of this the same as they went into it.

Please stay safe my friends. Wash your hands, cover your face, but above all be kind and be true. There is a lot of fear out there. Be a light in this dark time.

Finances, Anxiety, Depression and Adulting

This evening I filed my income taxes which should have made me happy. One more annoying task done in the long list that is adulthood. Instead it has added to my ever increasing depression about our finances and how much I suck at sticking with a budget. The prices of everything keep going up, but my paycheck does not. So I get depressed and comfort myself with food, which makes me bad because of my diabetes, so then I feel worse and I just don’t even want to eat anymore.

Work is a disaster right now with every time you come in there is a new change, a new policy, a new skill you need to know RIGHT STAT NOW!! People are quitting, people are being moved around, there has been a lot of yelling and crying and basically it has been full on bedlam right now.

I was so damn depressed by our staff meeting on Thursday (not to mention having a stupid sinus infection) that I called out sick on Friday. It was a full on mental health day emergency. Literally all I did on Friday was lay on the couch, watch TV, and fall asleep on and off. This naturally led to a night of insomnia since I slept so much of the day away.

Can I just tell you that insomnia and depression are not good friends and they should not be allowed to hang out together. It’s like one is bad enough on it’s own but when they combine in my life they usually bring anxiety to the party and then it’s full on hell in my brain that won’t shut off. I took my meds, I tried deep breathing and not a damn thing was working. I even prayed which usually always works for me because talking to God is soothing. But I couldn’t stay focused. So then I felt I was making God mad because I could not stop jumping from one rabbit trail to the next.

I applied for a Team Lead position at my work and while I was only halfheartedly interested, I figured I’m already doing most of what is required so I might as well get paid for it. So the morning of our staff meeting we were told to come in at 11:15am. So naturally I did not look at my e-mail until around 9:30am figuring I had plenty of time. At 6pm the night before, someone from upper management e-mailed us requesting 6 additional documents for our applications and told us to be ready to interview after our staff meeting. Seriously?!?!

So instead of having a nice relaxing morning where I actually got to enjoy breakfast, I had to rush around the house to get to the office early to print all the documents then again rush to where the meeting was being held (we have two offices).  I was so frazzled that I forgot to change into dress pants for the interview (we’re allowed to dress down for staff meeting day).

When I arrived at the office my supervisor started flipping out because I was not fully dressed up. I told her I had just gotten the e-mail this morning because we had been told when the work day is done, to not check our calls or emails unless we were on call. She proceeded to tell me I should have checked at 9AM and I said that we never have to work the morning of staff meetings. Then I left the meeting area and went to the kitchen to give myself a minute because of course I was crying. A few peers helped me to calm down and I returned to the meeting but honestly I just tuned out some of it because I’m so damn tired of the “You guys are great! We appreciate all your hard work!! Now here are 25 things you are doing wrong and you better fix it right now because the state is breathing down our necks.”

I need a break but every time I take a break something else happens at work and the work keeps piling up. And I’m so damn exhausted that I don’t want to talk to or see anyone because I am so damn tired of people. I just got made a deaconess at my church which involves a lot of interaction with people and especially the women of the church. I am happy I was elected but honestly exhausted just thinking about the next few months. I spend so much time during the week talking and catering to peoples needs that by the time the weekend rolls around I just want to curl up in a ball and avoid all human contact. Isn’t that awful?

So then my interview. Thankfully I was with colleagues who know me and make me feel comfortable. I had to answer a bunch of questions about leadership and what my areas of strength are and where I can improve. Honestly at that point I was so depressed and sick I couldn’t even be nervous. Some other me showed up to the interview because at one point it was like another person was speaking through me and I felt very disconnected from my body but at the same time knew what was going on. The other me must have done good because everyone looked happy at the end of the interview.

This was mainly a venting post but if you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions they are always welcome. How do you cope when life gets too overwhelming?

 

 

Sunday Family Dinner

For the last two weeks my husband and I have not had to go to family dinner. This dinner usually involves myself and my husband, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and my niece and nephew who are 3 and 5 respectively. Everyone was sick so nobody felt like doing anything so we all just chilled at home with soup and Netflix.

Yesterday was the first such dinner for the new year. I am seriously considering being permanently sick on Sundays. Truthfully the only thing that makes Sundays bearable is seeing my niece and nephew and snuggling up with them.

My sister in law is perfect. Not in actual reality but in the eyes of my mother in law, her needs are the most important, most horrible, needs the most attention, and needs the most support. My mother in law will agree with anything she says and of course she is never ever wrong. My husband and I are always second fiddle to her and her issues. She could have a hangnail and my mother in law would come rushing over to help her even if our house was on fire.

So we got together and ate one of my least favorite dinners. And my niece and nephew were complaining after dessert that they were still hungry. My sister in law told them they could not have any more dessert and that they weren’t really hungry at which they insisted that they were. This understandably made me a little hot under the collar. But they are her kids so I let it go. For the record I was still very hungry as dinner was not very filling to begin with.

Then my sister in law and my mother in law decided that they and myself and my husband needed to talk about eating healthier and changing our diets because of course that’s the perfect after dinner conversation.

I consider myself a fairly open minded person and usually I can pretty much talk about anything and everything with someone even if I disagree. But my eating habits, my weight, and my health are very sensitive topics for me and I tend to get a little growly and lash out when people try to tell me what to do in this area.

So I hung in there and listened and nodded like a good girl. I agreed to try new ways to add vegetables. But both of them kept pushing. So I decided to push back a little and share my struggles and how this feels impossible. I don’t have a set schedule for work so I never REALLY know when I’m getting home because somehow when I plan to get home at a reasonable hour and cook a decent dinner, there is invariably a crisis that requires me to stay late. And no, I do NOT wish to spend all freaking day Sunday cooking for the whole damn week.

Are these all excuses? Maybe. But I hate this month because everywhere I look I’m told to feel bad about myself because I’m fat. I don’t have money for a Peleton bike or the monthly subscription to go with it and let’s face it, Peleton bikes and other equipment were made for skinny people because I haven’t seen one overweight person in all their commercials. Weight Watcher I’ve tried a million times and it didn’t work. I can’t afford a monthly food thing like NutriSystem and besides when you stop buying their food, you gain everything back anyway. Can someone hook me up to a machine that works out my body for me while I sleep because that seems to be the only free time I have available.

So in response to the attack on my eating, I made my husband drive me to McDonald’s and buy me a cheeseburger as revenge against my in-laws. Except the only person it hurt was in fact me. Stomach cramps, feeling really shitty today, etc. And now I am depressed because I feel very judged at dinner and don’t want to go and I also feel really shitty about my body.

Has anyone ever made you feel bad about your body or your weight? Have people offered you unsolicited advice about your diet or nutrition? How did you respond or cope?

 

I’ve Become So Numb

My Pop-Pop passed away on Sunday, December 8th. He was not my bio grandfather but he was the only grandfather I knew on that side of the family. My bio grandfather died when I was two years old. He looks like he was a nice gent. But my Pop-Pop I grew up with was a spitfire. He could make you laugh and ten minutes later make you cry. My grandmother married him when I was 8 years old and I remember him wearing a sombrero and starting a conga line all around the bar they were having the reception at. He always had a joke for you or a sarcastic comment.

He has not been doing well in the last couple of years and has kind of been a cantankerous brat to my grandmother. He made it to 98 so I guess I have to give him a break for that. It’s just weird that he’s gone. The funeral is on Wednesday this week and I don’t really know why I’m not sad. Maybe because he was suffering so much and causing my grandmother so much heartache? I just feel numb. Like okay this is one more thing we have to get through before this year is over.

Add all of that to my job and the crying, screaming, meltdowns galore, and being on call this week as well. I am literally crawling over the finish line of this year. But I am going to finish and so are you. My Pop-Pop has a new glorious body that isn’t aching, breaking, or taking the life out of him so that’s something to celebrate.

Sorry for the randomness here. Tired and just needed to get some thoughts out.

poppop

This is my Pop-Pop and Grandmom at my wedding in 2010. Aren’t they adorable?!

Be Attitudes

Recently our church has been going through the Beatitudes one verse at a time every Sunday for the last few weeks. These are instructions from Jesus on how to live our lives and arrange our priorities so that we can live lives that are pleasing to God. If you would like to read them yourself, you can click here.

These beatitudes are completely backwards from the way the world wants you to look at life. The world says “get it all” Jesus tells us to “give it all.” The world says “get your revenge” and Jesus says “be nice to those who are nasty/mean/cruel even if they are never nice to you in return.” The world says “Nobody will ever know,” but Jesus tells us “God knows and sees it all.” But the amazing part is God sees it all and still loves us. I have said and done some horrific things to others in the past and despite God seeing that cruel, vengeful, hatred filled person, He still loves me! That blows my mind.

This series has been really eye opening for me.  I know I need to change some priorities in my life but if I’m honest, #1 it’s really hard, and #2 I like being really comfortable. Like today I know I should have gone to the gym after work to have a healthy body which would give me more energy to do for others, but instead I only got dressed in my workout pants and never made it out the door. I know I should stop wasting money on unnecessary food and snacks so I will have money to give to the church instead of my local convenience store, but I keep screwing up.

When my pastor said this past week that whatever you give the most time, attention, money, and thoughts to, that is your god, that felt like a smack upside the head. I constantly think about money, my body, and food. Like almost every freaking spare minute. It’s really bad, sad, and embarrassing actually. I’m always worried there will not be enough to pay my bills or do things I want to do. So then I stress and I eat. Then I curse my body for being so weak. But the Bible said we should not worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear because God will take care of all our needs.  Verses Here

So each day I am trying to do a little better and to focus on God a little more and a little on myself less. I want to do things that please God because I love God and not because I have to but because I want to and they are things that will help me and others.

More later my friends. Have a great night!!

The Twists and Turns of the Past Month

Early October, my husband calls me at work saying he doesn’t feel well and is going to Urgent Care. The doctor there says he looks okay but wants him to go to the Emergency Room because he can’t get a full breath in. Turns out he had a massive blood clot in his lungs and another in his leg. One day later and I would have lost my love and best friend. He’s now on medication and doing fine but three days in the hospital were very scary for me. I got a taste of what it would be like to live alone, without my best friend, and I definitely did not like it. There was much sobbing and fear.

On the same day my husband went to Urgent Care, I was sent home from work early because I was totally and completely burnt out. I was snapping at my boss, crying, stomping around like a 2 year old, and engaging in much muttering under my breath. Thank God in the long run she sent me home because then I was able to deal with my husband. But at the time it made me angry because I had SO MUCH WORK TO DO!!

My boss has finally realized driving her team into the ground was not working so as a team we came up with expectations that seem more reasonable. This has lifted a load off my shoulders in the best possible way because I felt like I was drowning and would never recover from the stress of it all.

Last weekend I went to an Apple Festival with my mother in law and a bunch of people from her work. It was the most wonderful weekend I had in awhile. There was  crisp fall breeze, the scent of fresh apples in the air, beautiful leaves that were changing color, craft vendors, and of course fresh apple cider which is literally one of my most favorite drinks on the planet. The whole day was a big soul refresher and for the first time in months I fell asleep contented and did not wake up once.

Also in the past month I have joined two Bible studies. One is for people struggling with mental health issues called Hope and Grace. They meet every week and its a great group of people. I am making my husband go with me for support but it’s actually helpful to him so YAY! I also joined a Bible study about Romans which is very difficult because the book they are using is written like a college text book and is very hard to get through. But the people are nice so I’m going to keep trying.

My church has been doing a sermon series on the Beatitudes (Matthew Chapter 5 in the Bible). It has been very helpful in giving me insight into what God is looking for in a person. I also finished reading a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. That book blew me away! It really made me question how I am doing things when it comes to my relationship with God and also some strongholds I have in place that are getting in the way of my relationship with God which has been tough.

My fellow blogger, Jenny Lawson, also opened up her own book store which I was really excited to hear. You can find her blog here. She is one of the most hilarious writers I’ve ever read and you should definitely read her books. I would love to meet her in person one day.

Well that’s it folks. My mental health is back on track, I am no longer wallowing in despair and I hope to be writing more often.

 

A Wedding, An Adventure, and A Conqueror

One of my husband’s close friends got married this past weekend to a lovely young lady who I hope to spend more time with in the future. She looked stunning, all the groomsmen (my husband included) looked so handsome, and let’s just say the people in Antarctica may have lost some ice caps because the groom’s smile was about 1000 watts.

Since my husband was a groomsman he was naturally a part of all the day before and day of events involving the bridal party. This meant that I had to drive, alone, in a place I was unfamiliar with. In short this was about as terrifying to me as being asked to bungee jump off a bridge, speak in public, watch a horror film alone in the dark, or be in a room full of snakes and spiders. In short terrifyingly scary. I may or may not have been a jerk the whole ride down to the motel we stayed in as I tend to get angry rather then admit my fear to anyone.

But I love my husband so I agreed to do this thing that scared me most because this day was not about me, but our friend who was getting married. So in the morning I drove to a hair salon to get my hair braided. This went well and I was able to shop and get breakfast all in the same shopping center. I was feeling confident and good. I drove back to the motel and started to feel better because I had now driven twice in an unfamiliar state and not gotten lost or in an accident.

My confidence was short lived. See what I didn’t mention so far is that this wedding encompassed me driving in two states (the night of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner we were in 4 states in one day)! So when it came time to head to the church for the actual wedding I was feeling a little confident that I could do this as we had been at the church the night before and I has some sense of landmarks that would be familiar.

This is when my GPS laughed silently and evilly to itself. If it had hands it would have rubbed them together saying “MWAH HAHAH” or something equally evil sounding. It decided to take me a completely different route then the night before. So I wound up on a highway that involved a toll road that I did not have money for. So now I’m facing a $50 fine for not being able to pay the toll. And I was lost.

So naturally I do the most logical thing I could do and I call my husband (hands free) screaming slightly hysterically into his voicemail because of course he didn’t pick up the phone. I was on my own. I was scared. And I was upset because the wedding was in about 20 minutes and I had no clue how close or far I was from the church.

Then I took a few deep breaths, put on my local Christian radio station, calmed down, and focused on following the GPS very closely. I missed a few more turns and had to back track about four times but I made it to the church just as the bridesmaids were about to walk down the aisle. Literally just on time. The wedding was beautiful and the priest was one of the most lovely human beings you could meet in a church.

During the reception, a few of the groomsmen made jokes about me being lost in about 12 states. My husband told me he had no reception on the limo bus and that was why he hadn’t picked up. We danced, we laughed, and all was well.

Looking back on this weekend I am a little glad my husband did not get that call. I was forced to face one of my biggest fears head on and there was no getting out of it. I couldn’t pull over on a major highway, I couldn’t just park in the middle of the road and just cry (very tempted though LOL). I had to get through it and while it was scary, uncomfortable, and upsetting, I made it and I didn’t die from my anxiety. This made me realize I may be able to face more then I think possible.