Bound and determined, I harnessed up the dogs, attached them to their double leash and set out for our walk. It was so beautiful yesterday and I was feeling good, so I decided to attempt the walk alone. How hard could it really be? I made it about 1/5th of our normal route, but our 35 pound dogs, super excited to be walking, were just too much for me to handle and I had to turn around to go home. Once home, the frustration and deep sadness I have felt all week broke loose. For as happy as most people are to begin to get back to “normal”, there are those of us devastated to be left behind. Again.
For the past 8 weeks, my Husband has been home with me, quarantining due to the Coronavirus. For years, we wondered if Bri didn’t have to work, if I would miraculously recover or even just significantly improve. The answer to that is no. I was still “sick” with my normal “dark passenger” and had all the same symptoms. BUT and it’s a big but……mentally, I have felt really good.
It’s true that I’m super Blessed to be married to my best friend, soul mate and partner in crime. So we always sort of keep that in mind, when considering why I feel better when he’s home; but it’s much more than that. When Bri is here, I don’t feel like the same prisoner I normally do. The feelings of ineptitude, inability and uselessness diminish and I feel somewhat like my old self again. Putting all that on another person is an awful lot of responsibility for them, but moreover, it’s setting myself up for a cataclysmic fall once things inevitably return to “normal”.
When he’s here, the isolation and loneliness is a little less suffocating. When he’s here, I have someone to talk to. When he’s here, grabbing a gallon of milk doesn’t take strategic planning. When he’s here, with his help, I can do things “normal” people do; like walk the dogs or work on planting a garden.
But when he’s at work: I’m reminded that I can no longer work. I’m reminded that I can no longer contribute towards paying the bills. I’m reminded that most friends have dried up and I no longer have coworkers. I’m reminded that he has a career and aspirations to grow within that career, while I sit idle. I’m reminded that he’s striving towards earning his Master’s Degree, whilst my studies have been permanently sidelined. I’m reminded that driving is too much for me, walking the dogs is too difficult and errands are a thing of the past. I’m reminded of the deafening silence of our house.
And so while I knew his return to work would come and it would be a difficult adjustment, I hadn’t really been on point with just how difficult it would be.
My best friend, Sue, swears that once I finally applied for Disability (after 4 years of being sick), that I got dramatically sicker. While I hadn’t really noticed that, of my own accord, I think she was right. And for all the same reasons I listed above, I think I’m experiencing a similar sort of effect now. Which is why this time, I’ve decided to approach it a little differently.
This time, I absolutely know my mental health will take a hit. For the past two months, besides fighting my usual symptoms, I’ve emotionally felt like a normal person. Losing that normalcy is no easy feat.
So here’s what I’m doing:
I’m being kind to myself. If I need to cry, I’m letting those tears flow. If I need to chow down on ice cream, I’m doing just that (with only marginal feelings of immense guilt). If I can’t cope and can only nap, I’m napping. If I turn on the tv at 1:00pm, then it’s not the end of the world.
I’m getting up, getting dressed and keeping something of a schedule. I’m doing what I can, when I can, within my own constraints.
And this time, thanks to a little bit of experience, I know I’ll get through this and reestablish my own semblance of normalcy. Even if it takes some time.