One week ago, I was standing in front of my class at Miami University.
“You know,” I said, “We are ready for whatever happens next. I know there is a lot of talk and concerns going on, but I want you to know that our class is ready. I’ve been teaching you how to do eLearning and remote work this entire semester. But honestly, I think I will see you on Thursday for our peer review day, and we will all enjoy my world-famous buffalo chicken dip.”
That always optimistic view of the world gets me every single time.
Now, seven days later, my entire world is flipped upside down. My stomach is constantly in knots as I battle anxiety, stress, and depression about what Covoid-19 is doing to our world. I can’t stop thinking about the lives affected by this virus. The businesses that will close. The people who will lose jobs. The families who will suffer. The marriages that will fall apart. The mental illness that will transpire. The dangerous situations people will find themselves in because they are faced with desperate measures.
Today, of course, feels overwhelming. But, we are just getting started. This is not even close to being the worse day to come. And that is what makes my anxiety spike again.
My friend and former boss called me today to check-in. I’m glad he did. He made me laugh. He cheered me up. He encouraged me. He told me he was there for me. I needed that call.
A few moments later, my friend Ann text me to check-in on me. Clearly, my people know I am hurting and not doing well. I admitted that I am not doing OK. I feel overwhelmed. I feel unsure. I feel…I feel a new emotion every minute.
“But I know I am a highly emotional person,” I said. “I have to give myself space and time to feel these emotions. Otherwise, I will run away from my emotions and bury them and that was a really unhealthy habit from my past.”
She said, “You have to feel to heal.”
A moment later she said, “That’s a great quote!”
Listen, yesterday, I was a mess. I yelled at my husband and child at least 3 times in a BIG kind of way. That mom yell that you do once a quarter or so. When your voice hurts because you screamed so loud. When your face is red because you’re so mad.
That was me.
“SOMEONE GIVE ME A PLAN! I JUST WANT A PLAN. A timeline. When does this end? What happens next? Do I live in my house with NO SOCIAL contact until July? What are my boundaries? Someone give me a plan. I need a plan.” – my mental load yesterday, all day.
I had to flip the script. I had to write a new story inside my head.
“I won’t have the answers. I won’t get a plan. I don’t know what will happen later tonight, let alone tomorrow.” – my conversation with myself today
Schools are closed – probably for good until next school year. I don’t know that for sure, but that’s my guess.
Work is totally remote for at least 30 days for many people.
Bars and restaurants are closed.
Some cities are on travel bans.
France is shut down.
A lot is happening in the world.
It’s a lot.
I feel a lot.
And it’s only day 7.
I want to remind you that:
- You have to give yourself permission to feel every emotion.
- You can’t feel bad forever for yelling at your partner or children. (But you can say sorry)!
- You are allowed to feel afraid and unsure.
- You should be vulnerable and honest about how you’re feeling.
- You need to speak up about what you need.
- You can look for ways to support your community and yourself from your home.
Anxiety hates action.
- If you need support managing your emotions, talk to your therapist. There so many new options if you need a virtual therapist right now.
- You are empowered to say sorry when you yell at everyone. I encourage you to do so instead of holding it all in.
- You can take a small step forward so you stop feeling so fearful.
- You can speak up to your friends via a phone call, video call, text message, email, or community group post about how you’re feeling.
- You can write down what you need and prioritize that list.
- You can create a donation drive or food list on Amazon. You can share resources about delivery services. You can join a support group online.
- You can purposely UNFOLLOW toxic people.
- You can limit your time on social media.
- You can go for a walk.
- You can read a book.
- You can journal.
- You can play with any animals in your house or look for birds outside – they are chirping and that brings me joy.
- You can clean your house (I know, this doesn’t excite me either).
- You can paint your nails a wild color.
- You can cut your own bangs – JUST KIDDING – NEVER DO THIS! I added this one to see if you were still paying attention.
- You can try to do laundry, but honestly – good luck. I’ve worked from home for 4 years and I am still not caught up. See below:
As a writer, I plan to write about this entire process. I will share:
- My raw emotions
- Updates from the world
- Stories from friends
- Fun ideas I come across
- Mistakes that I make
- Love that I find
- Fear that I overcome
You’re welcome to follow along and send me stories about any of the above too. This blog, and writing, is probably the only way I can do what my friend Ann encouraged me to do.
I will feel.
So I can heal.
And I will overcome what happens next.
Sending you love and light!