Generally, around this time of year, I write out my reflections and reminisce on all the good that came my way. I’m not going to lie; writing out this post has been a bit of a struggle for me. When I look back on the past 12 months, I am shrouded with disappointment. I wish I could pinpoint the exact reason for feeling this way. The frustration lies with others, our society, and (surprise!) myself. My anxiety has been through the washer many times this year, and the frays are starting to unravel.
2020 has been challenging, and my mental health has been slowly deteriorating. I’ve been withdrawing due to having zero energy to be social, even over video calls. It’s been difficult, it’s been intense, and that’s OK. So many others have gone through significant losses this year: the loss of family, loss of friends, loss of jobs, loss of oneself. We cannot deny the surge of grievance that has presented itself, and we need to appreciate that everyone deals with things differently. Please be understanding if others aren’t present right now, there’s so much that we don’t discuss online, and withdrawals are just a way to recharge. Please keep checking in on those you care about; it will make all the difference in the world in the long run.
All aspects of society have been hit by this pandemic somehow, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and now causing lockdown burnout. It’s hard not to be angry right now; we’re just about to start another lockdown, thanks to those who believe they’re superior to the pandemic. The condescending tones regarding wearing a mask, refusal to keep 6 feet apart and continuous parties over the maximum allowance of individuals… It’s enough to drive one mad. It’s not cute to deny what’s happening because it’s inconvenient for you or doesn’t fit your lifestyle. My perception of many people (including some that I considered ‘friends’) has drastically changed forever. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to open up my eyes, but I am thankful on some level.
I was still considered on Maternity leave up till the end of June. When I initially booked off my 12-month leave, I was ecstatic to have a full summer with my daughter, galivanting around. I had a lot of activities and visits planned, but none of them came to fruition. We tried to make the best of the situation, but it wasn’t the same. Trying to navigate this pandemic landscape with a toddler is frustrating because you cannot communicate with one another. I feel as if my first summer off was robbed and that my daughter is not getting the social aspects she needs for development. I wish I knew how to fix this, but I don’t think I can. This has caused me to overthink (a LOT), which has not been helpful.
When I went back to work, I was excited to get my old routine/schedule, but even those normalcies didn’t tend to my anxieties. It was challenging to find my groove again in the corporate world, and there were some days where I ended up crying. Even though I was working from home and close to my daughter as I could be, I was still disconnected. It took a month to get back into the swing of things, and I’m still trying to balance my home and work life – which is quite trying when you’re under one roof for all.
My usual stress relievers/coping strategies have been unattainable. I’m not a huge social butterfly, but I enjoy going to a local coffee shop to people watch or have the option. When things seem to be too much, I run to the gym to lash it out for an hour on several machines. Having these removed from my life doesn’t seem like it would cause a huge difference, but it does feel like my issues are worsening because of it. I think the key here is to have a routine and stick to it. I’ve fallen off my wagon a couple of times, and it’s hard to find the motivation to stick to a routine when the only person seeing results is you. Remember that it’s OK, and try to jump back on when you can. After all, we’re trying to get better for ourselves and not others.
During all of this, my husband was still waiting to hear back from the film industry when he could officially start again. It didn’t happen until October, meaning that he was unemployed from August 2019 till October 2020. It caused a severe strain on our finances and relationship – I still tear up just thinking of how much stress we were both under during this unprecedented time. On the one hand, I was elated to have a full-time Dad during my daughter’s milestone year. On the other hand, both of us were going through the motions, not communicating and not fully present. There’s so much more that I want to say on this subject, but I’m going to end it with one thought: If the both of you continue to show up/be present, no matter what was done or said, that’s unconditional love. Unconditional love is bittersweet to me; the last time I ever honestly had that in my life was with my adoptive mother, who passed on in 1998. It’s nice to have that feeling back regardless of the stressors that come with it. It’s hard to fight for a relationship when it’s just one person putting in all the effort; I feel thankful that he was willing to fight for us, too.
With this prolonged quarantine, I’m not surprised that it’s affected me both physically and mentally. Knowing that I tend to hibernate come winter, I decided to be proactive and start therapy once again. It’s been a slow crawl, but I think I have some pretty tangible and attainable goals. Even though I’ve been in therapy multiple times before, I’m still going and treating it like a ‘booster shot.’ I know that my feelings of disappointment can and will dissipate, but it’s been taking too long to do it myself.
So, this year has come and gone, and what do I have to show for it?
Not much, aside from a sassy daughter who is keeping me on my toes, and that’s OK.
Not every year can be great, and I feel that everyone has been through the wringer more than once this year. Nothing is normal about what we’re going through right now, and I don’t think that we will ever get back to where we were before this all happened. I, for one, accept and welcome this.
If we could stop for one moment during this holiday time and be thankful for the little things, I think that could give us the glimmer of hope that we all need to continue to 2021. I am grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly, and the copious amounts of coffee that gets me through the day.
What are you thankful for?