The country has been in a strange place now for about six months: We’ve quarantined, we’ve had some of our local businesses shut down, and then reopen, and hey, is that restaurant down the street back in business if we wear masks? For some, it’s still hard to know what’s open, closed or on pause.
And we haven’t even talked about schools.
Schools were shut down at the end of the previous academic year, and for many, the future remains uncertain. Some of us are still in the process of figuring out what we envision for our children’s educational futures, or we might have to juggle virtual learning with another job.
Sports have been affected, jobs were lost -- and there’s still no end in sight.
Sure, some things have returned to a state of “normal,” or at least, as normal as can be expected. But with other aspects of everyday life, it’s not clear what “normal” even is, or was, or what we can expect to unfold in the next year.
I’m going to get personal for a minute. As the author of this story, and someone who writes/edits from home full-time while juggling toddlers and a recent out-of-state move, I usually just tell people I’m fine, when they ask.
And I usually *am* fine.
It’s fine. What else can we say; what else can we do? “It’s fine.”
But a week or two ago, I had a moment where I just ... wasn’t fine. Between the unknown time table on this pandemic, a 4-year-old dying to get back to school and make some friends around here, a 2-year-old tantrum raging in the other room, a babysitter who failed to show up and work deadlines looming, I had a few minutes of self-reflection. “It’s OK not to be OK,” people love to say. In that moment, I was officially struggling and needed to say it out loud.
In a moment of weakness (or strength -- you tell me), I actually posted about my difficult week on Facebook, which is not a normal thing for me. But to my surprise, I learned how very *not alone* I really was. Fellow parents came out in droves to agree: This is not sustainable. This is HARD. And even people who aren’t parents were very much in the camp of, “I’m experiencing some unexpected challenges, too. This can be awful.” It felt productive to just take a breath, even amongst my social media friends, and learn about their struggles, or read their words of affirmation.
So now I’ll ask you too, dear readers and online friends: Has anyone else been saying “I’m fine” for the past four to six months, and you’re now realizing you might need to re-assess? (You’re not alone!)
Pop a squat on the virtual couch, and please, unload. Tell us what you’re feeling. It’s therapeutic; promise!
One final thing: It might feel good to fill out our form and vent a little bit (please -- I hope you do!), but if you’re struggling or dealing with anything related to your mental health, or you’re feeling more than just “not OK,” please reach out to a trusted friend, family member or therapist. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone, and this questionnaire is not a substitute for speaking with someone if you need real resources or a listening ear.
Stay healthy. And thank you for sharing.