It’s a difficult thing for me to admit, but I am not always smiling. I am not always feeling inspirational or inspired. I don’t always have the answers or know the questions to ask. I’m known for being the person who always finds the good side, the bright spot, the reason to keep going and I try to do it in a way that fits each situation and each person. Even if I’m not necessarily feeling it, I can pull off a good front and appear cheery. But alas, I am only human. So human, in fact, this past week, I hit a wall. I hit it hard and it was painful. Fitful nights, early mornings, the strain of trying to normalize everything, brought me to a place where I had nothing left. I spent an entire day crying at the drop of a hat. It scared my grandkids and it scared me. Things had just come to a head and it plunged me into a depressed state. I was falling apart. While I normally ride through times like this alone, this time I told the people around me. I needed their support and understanding. They did not disappoint. By the next day, after some much needed sleep and rest, I was feeling a bit better. Not 100%, but working towards that again. Crisis averted. This time. I need to pay more attention to what’s building and catch it before it reaches this point again.
It’s been an exhausting time through this pandemic for everyone. The stress is enveloping every aspect of our daily living. You can see the effect in a lot of situations. We don’t know what to expect and the hope to return to what feels like normal is something of a fantasy right now. Chances are it will be a totally new normal, one as difficult to adjust to as the lockdowns have been. It’s been long enough that people long for the past before we were afraid to go out in public, before we had to be cautious in everything we did, and before an unseen virus took a grip on everyone’s life. Every day we hold onto hope for answers and solutions, and every day we still hear about death. We are also seeing our children becoming sick in a completely different way because of their exposure to this virus. It all makes us angry, distraught, and fearful. That’s a deadly combination for those who are unable to cope with what’s going on. It takes its toll on all of us even if we are able to cope with most things. We have parents worried about losing jobs and homes and trying to stretch money and food while taking care of their children. Then we ask these same parents to home school. We ask those people who have to go to their jobs every day, knowing they may be exposed, get sick and possibly die, to come home to their families and deal with kids who have been cooped up all day and keep them at arm’s length until they shower and change. Kids that don’t understand what we are doing or going through any more than we do and have all the same mental and emotional upheavals that we do. We have people living and breathing in the same space 24/7 and it doesn’t matter what age you are, how long you’ve been married, how well you all get along, eventually it gets under your skin. Or you’ve got people living alone, with no one to talk to, or care for them, and no one to hold them and say it’s going to be alright. It’s all kindling for fire!
So, what can we do to keep that fire from burning too brightly? Be there. Be a listening ear. Be the person who thinks to call or write. Be someone they know they can vent to or laugh with or share important things. Don’t forget birthdays and anniversaries. Or if you are the one in the fire, reach out, tell people, share your feelings. Quit thinking you are alone. Stop believing that these emotions aren’t normal and you need to hide them. If it’s getting out of control, don’t expect to handle it alone and without help. Sometimes help is as simple as a smile, a look, a greeting or a kind gesture. Sometimes it needs to be more. But remember too, that your bad day doesn’t have to be someone else’s as well. Pick up on the cues from others that they may be struggling. You can’t expect someone to understand if they don’t know what’s happening with you.
We really just need to be more observant. Put ourselves in other’s shoes. Recognize that we aren’t feeling quite right or are taking too much on. It’s a tough time for everyone. I don’t know anyone not stressing to some degree. We might not even realize we are. We may all be in this together, but we aren’t physically together. We have to make use of the other ways we have to communicate. Sometimes though, it’s a simple as asking…think about it.