I've Cried Every Day
We have all lost so much in the last few weeks.
Classes were moved online for the rest of the semester. All students had to move off campus and since I don't live on campus, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. Commencement was canceled. Then my job's hours were shortened. Then Michigan went into lockdown and the bookstore I work at closed completely. My sister tested positive for the virus. I can't see my family for weeks.
It has felt like every time I think things can't get worse, something happens and guys, I am overwhelmed. I am stressed. I am scared. This is a historical time we're living in, but that doesn't make it suck less.
Since all this started over two weeks ago, I have cried basically every day. Everything from silent tears as I'm trying to sleep to gut-wrenching sobs on the floor of my boyfriend's living room.
Those of you with depression know that routine is key. Now, our routines are gone. Over the last few weeks, it's been taking me anywhere from an hour to three hours to get out of bed. It feels like there's no point in getting up, because I have nowhere to go.
Friends, I know a lot of you feel the same way. This is hitting us hard and our usual coping mechanisms, like going out or visiting a friend, either don't help or aren't allowed. We want to keep our communities healthy, but how do we do that and take care of our mental health?
First, I want to help you all see some of the things you're thankful for in all this crap. Yes, thankful. I want each of you to make a list of all the things that are stressing you out/going wrong right now. Be as specific as you want. Then, I want you to go through that list and find something you're thankful about for each one.
I'll use mine as an example. I'll show you 15 just to prove this is possible.
1. Classes are cancelled
BUT we have online classes and I'm only taking two that have assignments and lessons.
2. My friends all moved home
BUT I can still talk to them through texting or Facebook.
3. Commencement is cancelled
BUT my school is trying to find a way to celebrate and I'm going to get my diploma/cap and gown.
4. My job is closed
BUT I work at a company who genuinely cares about its employees and am still getting paid.
5. Michigan is on lockdown
BUT that doesn't mean I can't go outside. Walking in the woods is totally allowed.
6. I have no routine and find it hard to get up
BUT I've gotten to spend a lot of extra time with my roommate.
7. I don't know if the bookstore will reopen
BUT I know they'll do everything they can to reopen.
8. My sister tested positive
BUT she is officially recovered and cleared to go out in public and can't catch it again.
9. My family is quarantined
BUT they are safe and okay in their house.
10. I can't go anywhere
BUT I can still find things to do at home. Write, craft, etc.
11. So many people are out of jobs
BUT systems are being set up to combat that. This is bringing out compassion.
12. Families are struggling to pay rent and buy groceries
BUT many people are also donating food and helping each other out.
13. This will be going on for months
BUT it will not go on forever.
14. No one really knows the impact it'll have on the economy
BUT whatever impact it does have, it won't last forever.
15. I don't know how all this will impact my future
BUT I know good things will come from it and I know God is holding my future for me.
See? This is possible. Challenging, but possible. I'm not saying these things don't suck, just that they're not all bad. The birds are still singing, remember?
Second, I want to remind you that you're not alone. We are so lucky to live in an age where technology allows us to connect to people without being in the same room. We can call, video chat, and text. Online classes are still possible. Many people can work from home. Tele-health is a thing and allows people to keep their counseling appointments.
(My roommate wrote an excellent blog post about how we're not alone here.)
Third, I want you all to know you can get through this. Put your alarm on the opposite side of the room if you're having trouble getting up. Call a friend if you can't fall asleep. Block the news from your phone if you're overwhelmed. Take it all one day, one hour, one minute at a time.
Forth, I want everyone reading this to take a deep breath. Right now. Breathe all the way in and all the way out. Do that whenever you start to feel all this getting to you.
Fifth, I want you to cry if you feel like crying. There's no point in holding it in. People, I have literally cried almost every day for the last two weeks. There's no shame in it.
Sixth, I want you to open a window or go outside if you can. It's allowed and it won't hurt you, I promise. As long as you follow social distancing (staying 6 feet away from others) you are allowed to visit your favorite park or tree. Take a walk and de-stress.
Seventh, I want you to call a friend. Check in on how they're doing. Checking in on others always helps me feel better, because it makes me feel like I'm doing something.
Eighth, I want you to do something. Like the dishes or vacuuming or homework. Check something off your to-do list.
Ninth, I want you to find a good thing that happened today. If you're having a hard time seeing anything good, keep note of all the good things that happen in a notebook or list on your phone. I'd love to hear some of them.
Tenth, I want you to do something you love. Many things are shut down, but that doesn't mean our lives are over. Read a book, watch a movie, go on a hike, knit. If your favorite hobby is impossible right now, try finding a new one.
That's all I have for you. I know this post was long, but maybe it gave you some hope for the coming days. I know everyone is waiting for this to be over. I am too. But in the meantime, let's look at how we can do something great with this opportunity. How much art can you make? How much time can you spend with those you live with? What can be a good contribution you make to the world in this crisis?
Finally, one last reminder. I'm here for you if you need someone to talk to. Drop a message on the contact page or message me on Instagram or Facebook @rachelpaigeauthor
I lied. I have a few more things. Wash your hands and donate blood!