Amidst everything going on right now with current events life as many of us know it has changed drastically. The costs are immeasurable in some ways, but I am taking a shot at trying to put into words how this is feeling.
A paramount part of my mental health has depended on my routine. My world was upended nine months ago and at that time I had to deploy every known resource at my disposal to right the ship. I have had to develop new patterns and relationships that I depend on to be able to keep moving through the day without getting too lost in the gravity of my mind.
In one week those things have been obliterated.
Today I wake up trying to remember what day we are even on. It has become harder again to complete the basic tasks of living. I didn’t see it happening at first, but quickly enough I forgot lunches and showers and connection.
There are indicators for me, for my mental health and well being. Food, showers and sleep are the top three, with isolation coming in a very tight fourth.
First my energy is diverted to the critical: caring for my children. In a typical week this is on auto pilot. It isn’t easy, but it doesn’t typically drain the cup because I am able to fill it simultaneously throughout the day. In these past seven, only seven, days there are more holes in the cup and less resources to patch and fill it.
Next, I have to focus on my job. From home I get the kids settled with breakfast and turn on the computer. I read my emails and make a list of priorities for the day. Then before you know it I’ve spent three hours checking off boxes all while filling sippy cups and snack dishes, finding costumes, breaking up fights and soothing tantrums.
Eleven o’clock comes and I know it’s time to gather up lunch and get the kids settled to eat. I use this moment of time to throw in a load of laundry or sanitize the essentials for the 100th time. I sweep up the cereal or blueberry I just crushed under my toes and try to breathe. I put the dishes in the sink telling myself I’ll get to them later.
By noon I’m trying to get the kids down for a nap so I can get more work done or just a moment to breathe. I try not to fall asleep because I am trying not to fall into depression, but more often than not this week I’ve succumbed to exhaustion.
Some little voice will wake me, or the ring of the phone and it takes me a moment to get my bearings again. Now it’s time for a craft, a game or some other activity. A few times I’ve remembered to put on the music, turn it full blast and dance like a five year old while I can. This adds some to my cup even if just for a few moments.
Before I know it, it’s time for dinner and tubbies and stories and bed. I lay there with my son while my mind is racing and he puts his hand over my chest or neck and this reminds me to breathe. While I’d love nothing more than to succumb to sleep just then and there I am reminded that there is a war zone downstairs that needs to be tended to and there is no one else here to do it.
I swing my legs softly off the bed as not to wake my sleeping babies, and with another deep breath I open the door back to reality.
More laundry, those dishes, maybe something to eat, and I’m spent. I sit down, turn on the tv only not to have enough focus to watch it. I start to drift and somehow find the energy to get up to my room. It’s empty, its quiet and it’s dark. I lay there playing the day over and worrying that I am not living up to the ideals I have set for myself.
I am not enough, but I will have to be, because tomorrow will be another day and there is nobody else to do this.