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It’s been some weird time.

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Not to complain, but I feel like a lot of us are having a few weeks in a row here where it’s like… this is something you blame on astrology. This is what people mean when they say Mercury Retrograde or Neptune is in Uranus or whatever. I don’t know a lot about astrology, and I slept through most of astronomy. But what I mean is, it just feels like time and events are intensely weird.

Does it just seem like there’s more of everything? I’m sitting here in my bed, typing this up, feeling terrible because I somehow feel like I’m not doing anything.

I don’t have any deadlines.

I don’t generally work super hard on Mondays.

I had to drive my pet rat to the crematorium this morning because I came home from a disappointing Marvel movie and found him dead, so from now on, I’m blaming Benedict Cumberbatch for the death of my pet.

But for some reason, I feel like I’m dropping the ball because I’m sitting in my bed and not at my desk.

And I know that it’s not just me. It seems like everyone is in a constant state of feeling like they might have left the oven on. That includes people who don’t usually struggle with their mental health. Even they’re feeling like they must be forgetting to do something.

I’m constantly sure I’m the only one who isn’t “back to normal” while realizing how absurd that sounds. There is no normal anymore, not even for a few seconds, because everything is in a swift state of change. Things are moving too fast and everyone feels too slow.

Maybe not everyone. I see Facebook posts from people doing their gardening or going on tropical vacations and they’re smiling and it looks exhausting. Am I supposed to be back to that kind of thing? It’s an impossible climb. I haven’t returned pop bottles this whole time and yet I buy more pop. I don’t know what to do with them. They’re just sitting in my garage. If we go to war and there’s a scrap metal drive, I will be crowned your king and your god.

So, is everyone back to normal? Am I the lazy one? Are all the other people out there talking about how they feel this exact way only feeling that way because they’re overachievers and actually everything in their lives is fine?

I had losses this week both human and animal and I don’t even have time to feel sentimental. I’m too busy feeling like I’m running behind or dropping the ball. I’m too full of other grief to add more on top of the grief I’m trying to ignore. Again, I’m not alone; a million people in my country have died from Covid, and for every one of those people there are the people who knew them and grieve them and that’s just a lot of grieving people probably dealing with their grief in unhealthy ways.

But there’s so much other stuff to worry about, stuff that’s moving fast. How can I keep up if I can’t keep up with my life on a normal slow day?

It’s not just me, right?

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19 Comments

  1. Delta Juliet
    Delta Juliet

    Ohhhhhhhh it’s definitely not just you. I have been STRUGGLING for awhile now I feel. I was fortunate during COVID as no one close to me was deathly ill but in my case, the added stress was being an “essential worker”, married to an “essential worker” with two kids home from school and jobs that required Mom and Dad to be gone. It has been super stressful and isolating. Add to that some issues I’ve been having with my teen and a super disappointing Mother’s Day and my mental health has taken a major hit. Like, all time low.
    I need to get out of my own head and I’m realizing more and more that I need to find something that makes *me* happy. I have no idea what that might be.

    May 9, 2022
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  2. Amanda
    Amanda

    I think at some point I realized that there is no back to normal. Normal has shifted to something different. I’m still figuring out what that means from me. Some days I’m stuck in depression. Some days I’m throwing myself into my gardening because I can do it alone and it feels good to be outside and doing something.

    My 6 year old doesn’t remember the before times. That really made me stop and think. This is her childhood and what she’ll remember. I can’t stay in a holding pattern waiting for normal. I’ve got to make the best with what I have. Which is easier said than done, but I’m trying.

    May 9, 2022
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  3. Victoria
    Victoria

    So far away from normal it’s not even funny. I’ve been crocheting lots because it doesn’t take much brain power and on bad days, at least I’ve got something to show for the hours I spent just trying not to sink into the Earth. I’ve also been self-employed for a few years now and I’m planning to go back to school in September both because I want to change career but also because I’m hoping some external structure will cut down on the days I lose staring in to the void.

    We are easing back into socialising and stuff I used to find really fun just exhausts me now. Like, the clock strikes 10 and I want to say goodbye and go home (partly because I now wake up unprompted between 5 and 6 every day. Yay!).

    May 9, 2022
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  4. annbell
    annbell

    Normal was destroyed and grief is just a way of life now. And it’s horrible. I seriously wonder how people from the past dwelt with this stuff. Like people living through the Great Depression and world wars like how did anyone get up and go to work?

    For myself, I threw myself into fanfiction, but some days when I can’t write, the weight of the real world can be overwhelming.

    I feel like I just gotta keep going in the meantime. When my brother died, I discovered the raw truth that the world will always moving no matter how much you want things to stop and eventually it pushes you along to the point where you’re walking on your own two feet again.

    I look forward for when that happens for this global mess, but that still feel far off.

    May 9, 2022
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  5. Al
    Al

    Ohhh yeah this is. I mean I have had awful mental health since 2020 so by this point I’ve just gotten used to it, but I do feel like everything is really fast, and everyone else is a lot faster than I am, and I just want to be able to be slow but then it feels like I’m wasting time and dropping every ball I own. I haven’t written a thing other than an author bio the last twelve months, I miss important appointments, I spend all my time playing games and trying to talk with people enough to feel some kind of connection, and… I’ve been trying to figure out a way to just work with what I’ve got now that my insurance no longer covers psychiatrists, but it’s a pain.

    Still, it feels like things are slowly getting better — or at least reaching some kind of stability — as I adjust and let myself try to find some kind of equilibrium.

    May 9, 2022
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  6. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    Nope! No normal here. I want to cry every time I see or hear any news. I hate how everyone is acting like covid is over while people are still getting sick and dying. I hate how people can’t wear a f*cling mask without being whiny babies about it in my closet of an office at a health clinic. I hate that people don’t care about parents with kids too young to be vaccinated and people with health issues that make them vulnerable. I’m tired of wearing a mask, but I don’t want to kill my in-laws or my family or friends if I get sick and pass it to them. So the mask stays on. I HATE people who scream about how wearing a mask is violating their rights and at the same time screaming that people shouldn’t have the right to make choices about their reproductive health. I hate that people who don’t understand or care about medical science want to make health decisions for people who do. I hate the people in my life who act like I’m paranoid and it’s largely because I’m desperate for my high school senior to go to prom and to graduation and have something “traditional” to look back on about his senior year. And that won’t happen if he or anyone in the household gets sick. I hate that my dad almost died from covid, alone in a hospital, and we couldn’t go say goodbye since it’s covid. (He’s doing better, but still testing positive, so no visits. And he’s been in long term care unable to communicate for a long time, so calling isn’t a practical option.)

    I’ve been in therapy for about a month now. I stress knit to keep me from doom-scrolling. I have trouble concentrating on books. And cleaning. And adulting. Hell, I started putting “shower” in my planner to help convince myself that ten minutes in the shower will make me feel better even if it seems like an imposible task. Can’t remember the last time I played with my tarot cards or wrote or went somewhere fun where I actually felt safe and comfortable. I feel useless and worthless. This isn’t normal and I’m terrified it will never be normal. But I have therapy tomorrow morning – so yay! for that.

    May 9, 2022
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  7. Ilex
    Ilex

    Wow, Jenny and everyone else here, it sure isn’t just you.

    I did all right for the first year and a half of this pandemic. When it started, there was all this focus and purpose — we’re all at risk, we need to keep each other safe, we need to flatten the curve so the hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. I’m in an essential industry so I went to work every day through the shutdown, and felt like I was singlehandedly supporting public transportation here in Boston. It was lonely and grim — me and the homeless drug addicts* the only people in the train stations — but it also felt meaningful. The pandemic was history. It was huge. It was everybody.

    But for the past 6 months or so, as many people have started acting as though there is no pandemic anymore, I’ve found myself wrestling with constant deep grief. And feeling weird about it, because I don’t know anyone who has died from Covid. But every grief I’ve felt in my entire life keeps rising to the surface. I miss my pre-Covid life. I miss my early Covid life and keep wondering where that feeling is coming from. I miss people I haven’t cared about in years. I miss pets who died decades ago. It feels kind of crazy, but it’s very real.

    I think the world needs to mark all this mourning somehow. We’ve been through, and aren’t yet done with, so much disruption, so much worry, so much loss. And the push to “return to normal” refuses to acknowledge any of that.

    Thank you, Jenny, for this post. And thank you to everyone else who’s commented here, I feel for all of you. But I also feel validated seeing what others are going through now, as well.

    ————————————————-
    * I developed a lot of new compassion for homeless drug addicts during this time, but that’s a discussion for a different post.

    May 9, 2022
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  8. Zev
    Zev

    Nothing is normal anymore for me, either. You described it brilliantly in this post: everyone feels like they left the oven on/I feel like I left my apartment’s heat on. Watching people smiling is exhausting/I feel like reading about the “mundane” day-to-day stuff on social media is like, what? And, why don’t I have that for myself?
    You stated you feel odd because you’re not doing anything, and yes, I relate to that too. I’m happy that you finally are getting to relax in what is the first time in a long time, but even typing that out seems condescending. It wasn’t intended to.
    I have been in a state of heightened…something…relating to stress for nearly two weeks, which happens every year but this year it’s worse for reasons. I unwound for the first time in nearly two weeks, and then woke up this morning and am trying to figure out how much my stress levels might rise again, basically. So indeed, I relate in my own ways.

    On social media, people are acting like covid is over. In my city, everyone is still wearing masks on public transit and libraries and grocery stores and stuff, but…strangers are starting to sit next to one another again and it’s bizarre and I hate it. It’s not a personal space issue at all; it’s the fact that we are still in a plague! People out for a walk or such, though, aren’t wearing masks and I can’t stop looking at their -faces-, odd as it is to acknowledge. I remember when my city first shut down-ish in 2020, I thought this was a game of sorts. I thought it was going to last two weeks and we’d all go back to whatever. I thought I would be fine and was so proud of myself for taking hygiene and emergency supplies seriously. Not for a moment did I guess my severe agoraphobia would get worse, my social skills would deteriorate, the US government would leave -everyone- except rich people behind without blinking; and that I would realize nothing would ever be normal again about a year into it.

    I wish there was something I could say or do to even things out for everyone, and there’s nothing. Thank you for this post and everything you do.

    May 9, 2022
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  9. Jordan W
    Jordan W

    It me. I have the least stressful job of my career so far (lol knock on wood) but I’ve never been more crippled by my chronic depression and anxiety. I have better meds, better therapy, but I still lie in bed until the last possible minute thinking I can hide under the covers from the monster that is existential dread. Dishes pile up in the sink. I eat cereal for dinner. Then I get a burst of energy and wash all the dishes, cook food, go out and see friends, think it’s all over and I’m better now. And then it starts again. I took a writing project that I was excited to do and I just was too afraid to even start for weeks. When I finally did it was fun and I knew I made the right choice, and I stopped work that day feeling great. Then I woke up the next day full of dread and doubt again. It’s not that it never ends, it’s that it only ends for a little while then keeps coming back and I sincerely don’t know what to do.

    Fuck brains, man. But also fuck all the wild awful shit in the world.

    I too blame Benedict Cumberbatch.

    May 9, 2022
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    • Al
      Al

      This is… so weirdly consoling because it’s literally what I’ve been experiencing, and I’m really glad I’m not alone and that there’s something causing it besides “I am just broken”.

      May 10, 2022
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  10. nelliejean
    nelliejean

    Oh god yes. I’ve been in this state of low-level panic for two years now, and I’m exhausted. My concentration and my short-term memory are just gone. I go to work on the bus, and there’s only a couple of us still wearing masks now. I don’t have the energy – physical or mental – to do any of my hobbies at the weekend. My mental health was pants before all this, but now it’s just so much worse! But I don’t have the bandwidth to phone for a doctor’s appointment. I just really need a break.

    May 10, 2022
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  11. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    It’s like stacks of boxes. Depending on the size, we can handle one box, two box, three boxes. But the boxes keep adding. And because we’re people we care about people, including those we don’t even know know personally, we care about their boxes, too. All our regular stuff, plus family’s, friends’, work’s, other stuff.

    And this is heavy stuff. Covid. Ukraine. Trans rights. Abortion rights. Election. Disinformation. And outright cruelty, in all its various forms.

    Think we need to finesse our self-care, whatever that is. Making healthcare appointments. Getting off the Internet, if need be. (That might be me.) Dropping extras with set dates if they’re too much – social, sport, music, arts, whatever.

    May 10, 2022
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    • Delta Juliet
      Delta Juliet

      What a perfect analogy. And you’re right. These boxes are HEAVY. And hard to put down.

      May 10, 2022
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  12. Brandi
    Brandi

    I’ve pretty much felt this way since my grandmother died in 2018. I didn’t have time to grieve then because things had to be taken care of, and I’m the thing-doer, but before those things were done, more piled up, the pandemic hit, people got downright nasty, and then I hit a wall. Most of the time I freeze thinking of the things that need done, the things I want to do, and the things I feel like doing.

    May 10, 2022
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  13. Jane Doe
    Jane Doe

    Oh no, the world has definitely gone belly up and if I’m honest, I don’t see an end in sight, but I’m taking it in stride. I avoid the news and the internet (apart from very specific websites where I feel I won’t find politics or doom and gloom) as much as possible or else I’d be in a dark, dark hole. I haven’t felt *too* affected by Covid. I followed all the protocols, at this point I’m vaccinated and boosted, my family is also vaccinated and boosted, we don’t really have any close small kids that can’t be vaccinated to worry about either, so for me Covid is the least of my worries. I’m more bummed out about the political climate. Like where the hell did all these people leave their brains? And is there any safe place to run to?

    May 10, 2022
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    • Al
      Al

      I don’t know if this is of interest to you, but for what it’s worth, I’ve found the Dracula Daily memes on tumblr help me a lot, and make a nice break from depressing news.

      May 15, 2022
      |Reply
  14. Teacup
    Teacup

    When you wrote, “I’m too busy feeling like I’m running behind or dropping the ball.” I feel that. I really do.

    Perhaps we are experiencing a global phenomenon of some sort of post-pandemic burnout?

    May 14, 2022
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  15. Bunny with the Blues
    Bunny with the Blues

    It’s not just you. Sorry, to hear about your pet. Cumberbatch should not attempt American accents. Personally, I haven’t felt normal since the 2016 election. I’m tired, so damn tired.

    May 15, 2022
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  16. A.
    A.

    I don’t want to come off like I’m advertising, but for all of you here who are struggling with “the pandemic is over” and “We’re going back to normal!” there is a podcast for you and it’s called Death Panel. It’s a podcast about disability and capitalism. And their Discord server is great, too, if you need somewhere to vent. I’m so sorry for all of us. I hope we can make something good of it. <3 <3

    May 20, 2022
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