Struggling

Despite intending to, I haven’t been doing much writing lately. At the beginning of the pandemic the world felt very chaotic, but I was doing okay. I was (and still am) grateful for my safe home to quarantine in, and my ability to work from home exclusively until things were calmer. I was settling into a new routine and things felt like they were reasonably under control.

Since George Floyd was killed in May, I’ve felt a lot less like things are reasonably under control. The US has broken out into the most intense social unrest that I can remember, and with the presidential election just six weeks away I feel like no matter what the results are that things are going to get immediately worse here. I’ve tried to do my part to learn and listen, and I feel like I have a better understanding than I ever did of systematic racism and just how much it plays a part in every aspect of daily life, from its implications in healthcare to education to housing. It feels like no amount of reform will fix an entire society built on a foundation of inequality, but how do we tear it all down and start over? The enormity of it overwhelms me. I realize now that I was able to grow up blissfully ignorant of all of this because I am white and I’m struggling with this knowledge and upset that those in charge of educating me participated in such blatant whitewashing (whether they knew they were doing it or not). I’ve tried to do my part by donating to organizations that are working to help and by speaking up, which has brought me closer to some people and pushed me farther apart from others.

I’ve lost a lovely friend I met at Zumba class to cancer, and former coworkers to COVID and to suicide. There were no funerals for them because of the pandemic and even though attending a funeral is not high on the list of things I would ever say I “want” to do it would have been nice to be able to say goodbye to them among other friends and loved ones.

I worry about people I love whose mental health is suffering from all that has happened so far this year, while I can feel my own declining as the months pass. I don’t exactly know what to do about it. I try not to vent too much or complain too much because honestly, I know how lucky I am to be in the position I am in and so many have it far worse than I do, so what am I feeling so low about? I I know all of the tricks and tools to work through anxiety, it’s just hard when it feels like I can’t even take a breath before the next crazy thing happens.

For most of last week we were shut in our house with the windows closed because of the wildfires raging across most of the west coast. Not being able to go outside or breathe fresh air was very draining to me. I went to bed a couple of nights ago and as I was trying to fall asleep I found myself abruptly feeling incredibly angry. Nothing provoked it, I was just lying in my bed, but I suddenly felt enraged and I had no idea why which just added confusion to the anger. And below all of it was guilt for being so upset when in truth I was so fortunate that I was safe and that no fires were threatening my home. It could be so much worse….but of course, that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Our oldest cat, Oliver, is having health issues again and it makes me so sad. My sassy orange kitty, who once weighed upwards of twenty pounds with an attitude roughly the same size as his body, is as feisty as ever but continues to decline physically. He is barely ten pounds and is skin and bones. He had his teeth cleaned last week and the vet expressed concerns to me about how frail Oliver looks these days. We do blood work which keeps coming back relatively normal and we have no real answers about what’s causing his weight loss but if he continues to decline I worry that we won’t have him that much longer. He’s fourteen, not a young cat by any means, but he’s been in my life since he was around six weeks old and the thought of losing him breaks my heart. I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to be home more and spend more time with him, even though I would never have wished for this pandemic and I am not happy it has happened.

I miss the outlets for stress that I used to have, especially dance class. It used to help so much to go spend an hour dancing with positive, amazing women and that time always helped me feel better about everything in life, no matter what was going on. But I cancelled my gym membership when the gym reopened in August because I just don’t feel comfortable going back in the middle of a pandemic, and with the way things are going I know that isn’t going to change anytime soon. But oh how I miss it.

I feel overwhelmed and I feel guilty that I feel overwhelmed. I’m trying to focus on the good in my life and take comfort in that.