Riding the roller coaster

As I write, the government has announced yet another lockdown, restricting movement and randomly labeling this service and that business essential or non-essential, making more pompous declarations while doing nothing.

I have lost count of how many times we have been here, how many times we have had to worry about quarantine passes and checkpoints and curfews, how many times the rules have changed. Worse, I have lost count of the friends and family who have been touched by this virus, friends and family who have lost their friends and family, friends and family who are fighting this pandemic with their lives and their work.

I am so tired, and so is everybody else. Yet another announcement, yet more restrictions, far too many cases and deaths.

A fine time this is to stop my antidepressants, I told my husband.

I sobbed as I spoke to my doctor during our last appointment. I told him about the things I was struggling with. I told him how angry I was at certain people, how just seeing their names on social media made me incredibly upset. I told him how deeply affected I was by the hatred and judgment that came from so many people when Harry and Meghan had their interview with Oprah.

Even as I sobbed, I knew I was not the same person who had made an appointment with the doctor the year before, crying uncontrollably and barely breathing. Even as I sobbed, I recognized that I was no longer a well of anxiety and depression. As I sobbed I could hear anger, yes, sorrow too, but also a struggle to make sense of things and to accept what I could not change.

I told my doctor how I was trying to manage with yoga and meditation. I told him I was not writing as often as I liked, but that I loved my job and I took breaks as needed. I told him that I recognized how this was a difficult time for everyone, and I tried to find balance in my life.

My doctor said, in a nutshell, “I think you’ll be okay.” He told me that I was suffering from trauma due to chronic stress from when I lived in a very toxic environment. He said I could stop taking antidepressants for a while, but if I felt that I still needed them, I could see him again (virtually) and he would give me a prescription. He reminded me of the lessons he’d shared before: mindfulness, meditation, sufficient sleep and a balanced diet, exercise. He reminded me that it was perfectly okay to avoid contact with people and things that I knew were triggering. He told me about anticipation–if I know I’m going to be in a situation that is likely to trigger discomfort, I can prepare myself emotionally.

Some days are awful. Some days I cry, and some days I rage. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to move, and some days I find joy in the littlest things. Some days I feel light and joyful, and some days there is nothing but fatigue.

I realize this emotional roller coaster is totally understandable, given HELLO THE WORLD IS STILL SHIT. But I think it’s also worth noting that, despite the world being shit, I don’t feel like shit, and that’s important. I think it’s worth noting that I’m trying to enjoy what I can while recognizing my fear and anxiety, while accepting that sometimes things are awful and other times things are pretty okay.

Hopefully there will be more okay days than awful days, but I think it’s okay too to celebrate knowing how to deal with the awful days.

Hope you’re all having more okay days too. And if not, I hope you can figure out how to deal with the awful days.

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