LOVE YOUR WHOLE SELF

What good is a size 2
When all that you do
Is obsess about the gym and your food

What good is skinny
When you haven’t any
Friends because you drove them away

What good is thin
Now that you’re in
Way over your head and drowning

What good is low cal bread
When you’re heart is dead
And your soul has withered dry

Love the chocolate
Love the curves
Live the life you know you deserve

Be healthy
Be wise
Awaken the beauty you know is inside

~Jenny Hansen

I Quit: Poem About Social Work

Today I quit my job
I’d had it up to here
I was tired of all the stress
The crying and the tears.

I went back the next day
Just as I knew I would
Because I know I’m needed
To bring some love and good

Tomorrow I’ll quit my job
Because of this or that
Paperwork piled high
But I always somehow come back

Why do I do this silly dance
Round and Round I go
Soaring with the few highs
Crashing often in the lows

Am I madwoman
Doing the same over and over again
Or do I just stay in this work
For the totally incredible friends

Some days I lose my ability
To love, to feel, to care
As the stress piles on and on
And becomes too much to bear

I eat chocolate to ease the pain
Color when I can
Get lost in good books
So I don’t have to think about it again

I show up early
Work late most days
I do it for the idea of hope
(Definitely not the pay)!

So if I can spread kindness
Give resources here and there
Show others it’s not hopeless
Then I guess I really do care

So here’s to a broken system
We do what we can do
I’ll show up early tomorrow
Bring hope, healing, and a little love for you

Summer Is….

The bright sun beating down on your back as you mow the lawn. Sweat pouring down your face as you just walk from the house to the mailbox and back. Warm rain storms and puddles to splash in. Bright fluffy white clouds and laying on blankets arguing over what each one looks like.

The smell of charcoal grills and propane grills firing up all kinds of goodness; hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, vegetables. Your mom’s potato salad that you don’t really like but you eat because you love her and don’t want to hurt her feelings. It is cherry jello and ice cream with sprinkles (jimmies as they say in Philly) and lots of whipped cream and a cherry on top. It is water ice and pretzels with mustard.

The loud bang of fireworks bright in the sky, twinkling as they fall and disappear. It is a sweaty hand intertwining with another sweaty hand as you walk the boardwalk. It is the pounding of the ocean waves, the smell of pizza and popcorn as you walk down the boardwalk. It is mini-golf, tag, kick the can, and sweet first kisses that you’ll never forget.

The brown skin of my Italian husband and the red skin of my Irish/Polish skin. It is SPF- 100 suntan lotions and sprays. It is the smell of salt and sand and coconut lotion. It is the soothing balm of aloe at the end of a day spent swimming and splashing with friends. It is the best sleep all year because your body is warm and has been soaking up sand and sun all day.

The crackle of bonfires while camping at the lake and eating smores. Ghost stories, late nights, cabins, and finding God. It is the best fruit time and corn on the cob with butter melting down your face time. It is family and friends and a coming together of people who matter most to you. It is lawn chairs and beach chairs and book after book. It is the songs of summer and wearing the coolest shades you can find.

It is a feeling, it is a memory, and it is indescribable although I’ve tried.

 

The Wheels In My Head Go Round and Round

Most days I get done work and I think, today I really need to write about [insert interesting thought I had during the day]. But I don’t. I spend all day looking at a computer screen writing notes, making calls, doing video conferences, fending off crisis after crisis and when I’m done…I’M DONE.

My mind is a constant whirlwind of thoughts and it doesn’t slow down unless I read a book or do something else that captures my total mind for a short time. I am worried about everything, solving nothing, but still going to work every day claiming “I’m fine” when people ask as they pile more stuff on for me to do because “I know you can handle it,” or “You got this.”

I DO NOT GOT THIS…..

I do however have an endless supply of mental confusion, irritability, tears, insomnia, and headaches. If you are in need of those, I have them in spades. I am normally very organized, very on top of things and today I literally just froze because there were too many tasks and not enough brain power to figure out how to do it all by the end of the week. Then I get told I’m training new people which I do love, but not when I am managing two care loads of children because a co-worker is out.

I worry I’m not doing anything to support the black community. I invited my brother over for dinner tomorrow because I’m so afraid I’m going to lose him and everyone I love if I don’t see them RIGHT STAT NOW. It’s ridiculous but now I am having tacos with my brother on a night I really don’t have time for it but I felt like if I didn’t see him and his girlfriend and my niece then something bad was going to happen and I would never see them again.

I worry I’m not doing enough to grow my faith. I’m not doing enough for my church and for my community. The sky is falling and I’m chicken little screaming and running all over the place except nobody can hear me.

My anxiety is on a roller coaster all day long and so is my depression. I am up and down and I want to get off but the clown at the controls says sorry kiddo you gotta keep riding. I think if I wasn’t on medication right now I would have a full on mental break.

I know this is all first world problems. I’m not starving, homeless, or anything else really terrible. But I am overwhelmed. And the fear and the feelings are real. So I just needed to vent a little in the only private place I have in my life right now. None of my friends or family know about this blog but I do have a small family of friends on here who care and that helps on nights like tonight where I feel like I’m falling apart.

Baby Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

wordle-depression

Happy to report that after two weeks of safety quarantining in our home both my husband and I have not experienced any symptoms of COVID and can rejoin the world outside our doors.The sun is shining and there is a beautiful breeze outside today. All is technically well. And yet both myself and my husband are struggling horribly with depression right now.

We both have gained a significant amount of weight due to being home and no gym to speak of. We sporadically exercise when we have the motivation (which is not often). People say we should just go for walks. Good advice except he has back pain and I have back and foot pain (thanks heel spurs). So I work and bake and we snack ourselves into momentary bliss, then feel like assholes when we’re done eating.

I love my husband more then life itself, but I cannot make this better for him and he can’t make it better for me. His mother keeps making snide comments about our weight and her being disappointed in him that he’s not working. Then we discuss his sister’s upcoming divorce and all this serves to make everyone miserable. Then we discuss the current state of our State and everything crumbles.

I feel like I’m sinking in quicksand with no way out. I feel the darkness closing in around me as it always does when I am depressed. It wraps me in its invisible bubble and though I can’t see it, I feel it. It literally colors everything more gray and dull. All enjoyment to be had is sucked away.

I know this will end but I am tired of these cycles of depression, recovery, more depression, etc. I feel I have no right to these feelings. I am working. I am paying my bills. I have toilet paper for crying out loud. My kitties love me and snuggle me daily. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Yes I know chemical imbalance….need to change your thoughts…eat better….get some sleep…practice mindfulness…etc…etc. But honestly right now I would like to crawl under the covers and never come out again unless I can get a brain transplant. And a total body makeover.

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.

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?

 

 

Sometimes It’s All Too Much

Sometimes I feel like the world is going a little too fast for me. I like being able to Google almost any and everything. I like cell phones and texting, You Tube, Facebook, etc.

But sometimes I miss hanging out with a friend in person. I miss family gatherings where none of that existed and you had to gasp talk to people. Kids could watch TV or read a book. Now sometimes when I go on visits to families even the parents can’t tear themselves away from some sort of electronic device.

There is always so much pinging, dinging, and ringing that I literally hear it in my sleep. I have woken up certain I missed a call only to find it was all in my dreams (nightmares…whatever).

I wish there was a national unplug day. Where all the WiFi and the internet would go down, and we would be forced to interact with one another. Just for 24 hours. I know as far as national security that’s probably not a great idea, but you get my point. People today are so wrapped up in themselves that they forget there are other people around them that are going through things too and could use an actual hug and not just an emoji or GIF of a hug.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. However you feel about the holiday I challenge you to reach out to someone in person and let them know they are loved. Even if it’s a friend, a parent, a grandparent, or your local barista. Because everyone in this world needs to know they matter and that can’t always be accomplished with an emoji.