Hey again. How are you?
No … really, how are you?
People ask that, but I mean it as a real question, not as filler. The world is in an odd sort of space right now, and how people “are” really matters.
Me? What a COVID Staycation it’s been. I checked in here early in May, and it’s been a modified Groundhog Day since.
During the months of March and April, I lost some weight because I wasn’t sleeping well. Panic attacks would wake me up from a sound sleep, and a bite of food would make my stomach churn with acid and anxiety. Anxiety medication helped get me through those first few weeks of lockdown and quarantine, especially when my husband and I were separated for 3 weeks due to a mandatory travel-related quarantine and the kids were suddenly home with me. We were learning a lot of terrible things very quickly and science-based information was slow to arrive. I was physically unwell, despite avoiding COVID.
That part is better now, thankfully.
Being home for the last six months has been really weird, in that it feels normal-ish, transactionally, but the dust collecting on my suitcase and on my inbox is unsettling. May was a weird fog of pretending that working from home was entirely normal, because it wasn’t entirely un-normal. I’ve been working from home for over ten years, but have also traveled extensively for work during the same timeframe. Being home all week and working from my home office feels normal, but not spending the weekends at conferences and events? Weird. Airports, airplanes, and hotel rooms were my second workspace for a really long time. Not flying for five weeks was unusual for me; six months is wtf.
I miss my peers, in general. I miss my diabetes peers in particular. I’ll be grateful as hell to see PWD in person again.
And now, in September, being in my home office feels right, but being uninterrupted feels weird. The kids (they’re ten and four now) are home with us, and the daily schedule … hang on … I just made myself laugh using the word “schedule.” Ahem. What happens in our day-to-day is a desire to be scheduled but ends up being a busy stock pot of weird tasks on a constant and rolling boil. Chris and I are both attempting to run our businesses from home while keeping kids mentally and physically health, and the physical safety part is what chips away at the mental health part. Because of our work situations and the availability of contact-free grocery pickups, etc. we’re able to stay isolated and away from COVID-related risk as much as possible. This isolation is what makes things challenging mentally. We’re a team of four here in this house and on some days, that feels like plenty. Other days, it’s like we’ve all multiplied and there are too many of us. And there are darkest days when even four feels like it’s not enough to fill every new and frightening void.
It’s not all weird and sucky, though. The bright spots are very bright.
I learned how to bake a lot of very delicious things. I perfected pretzels, dug deep into doughnuts, made a bounty of banana bread, created a cache of cookies, and raised the roof with my semolina rye (and yes, I had trouble maintaining the alliteration in this sentence). From gluten-free to sticky dough to flaky pastry, I’ve made some headway in the bakery arts department. (Note: I’ve also managed to find the weight I originally lost in the first few months of the pandemic. Which is fine. Just weird to be someone who panic-lost and then comfort-gained. I actually took a pump break for about five days in efforts to remind myself to think before I chew, which helped me reset my noshing habits. Nothing like having to pierce my skin with an insulin pen needle to remind me that I’m more comfortable and effective insulin pumping than on MDI.)
There are some text threads and email chains that make the Internet very. much worth logging into. I miss these people but being able to wake up to an onslaught of messages (thanks to timezones making my sleeping hours the musing ones for others). I have a LOT of really great books in my bookshelf that I’m excited to read, and my daughter and I have recently started reading together before she goes to bed. My kids are making the most of this experience by realizing lucky they are to have one another, and they reinforce that for their parents, too. Stresses from before COVID seem easier to leave behind now that we’re facing this health crisis as a team.
It’s a hard-earned perspective.
A far-less chaotic schedule makes my blood sugars more manageable. I eat the same things, generally. I go to bed and wake up at the same-ish time every day. I am taking generally the same amount of insulin every day, and am also taking the weekly injection of Trulicity that I started about 8 months ago. Blood pressure meds have been increased – “Let’s call this the pandemic BP bump,” said my endo – and everything else is sort of in a holding pattern while I wait and hope for the ability to travel again.
Mentally, I’ve been less clumpy. Some days are borderline basic and nothing feels too overwhelming. Other days are challenging in ways that rival the worst days I had with postpartum anxiety. I started with a therapist, via video conference, this morning. The need for a consult was prompted by a visit to my primary care physician. (I was in her office for a regularly-scheduled-but-COVID-delayed yearly physical and when she asked how I was, I just started crying. Didn’t expect that to happen. Crying with a mask on is a new experience for me. It’s gross. And this just became a gross post – a grost.) I am truly “okay,” but the anxiety baseline in my life has risen significantly, making mental health check-ups important right now.
Essentially, we’re trying not to wait for the pandemic to go away before we start living again, only life is super-modified. We’re not waiting to pursue writing projects and goals, work-wise. I’ve finally got some momentum on my poetry anthology, and two other narrative efforts, but it’s a slow burn because my motivation is a little lacking. (But not in every arena. Damn, have I cleaned out all the cupboards and bought a shit ton of yarn for lots of projects for my Yarnxious account. And let’s not forget the aforementioned doughnuts.) You can sign up for the new stuff mailing list, if you want to be notified when the publications go live. No pressure. I also promise not to email you anything too silly … which is a huge lie, as I live for The Silly. More now than ever.
My kids will be doing virtual learning (one in 5th grade, one in preschool), so we’re excited to have new reading projects and learning modules to tackle. (In theory. Ask me how this is going in November, when it’s cold and dark and the cat has thrown up on my mojo.) If you’re still practicing strict social distancing, I see you, from at least 8 feet away and with a mask on. (And if you hate Zoom, I see you, too – through a small, digital window with a fake background.) We are still maintaining strict social distancing guidelines, which is our choice, but it feels like a harder choice in the moments when we miss our friends and want normalcy to return. “Caution fatigue” is a thing in this house, only we’re not changing our actions based on that fatigue. Instead, we’re immersed in the meh sometimes. I am straight up envious of people who are confident enough in their health circumstances to take what amounts to me as risks, as I’m “not there yet.” And I wonder when I will be.
“Weird’ remains a wicked understatement. But we’re still here, and we’re still trying to make it all make sense.
So much love to you all. I hope you’re staying healthy in all possible ways, and hanging in there. We’re in a strange time without a timeline. But I know, together, we’ll be okay.