The pandemic of 2019, COVID-19 caused by the perfectly new Sars-CoV2 virus, has really opened my eyes, as I imagine it has for many. I have certainly been so naive, so wholly unaware. And I see now the actual impact of globalism, fed by the capitalist scaffold. In the thick though, it all seemed like a distant storm to the omnipotent fear of something you could contact, and possibly contract, but not see. Suddenly, working in a rich and vibrant community was a risk. And I quickly realized, I was among the highest risk. My job placed me in contact with many people in a relatively small area. Have I washed my hands well enough? Did the edge of my palm graze the surface of that bathroom door handle? Have I really been careful enough? Will I still get it? Could my teammate die? Could my friend die? Could my husband die? Fear fueled an eventual and ever-present anxiety that led to extreme measures. I chewed my mouth open nearly with worry. And when it came down to it, my spirit worried for me, desperately.
Before the pandemic started, I worked at a residential treatment center for children who had been abused or neglected in some horrific ways. I started as a daily caregiver, helping children to finish their homework while fighting constant mental and environmental distraction and then overcome a deeply ingrained fear of the bathroom as they attempt a shower. It was much more as well, obviously. I couldn’t just be at work. You were “there” for them. It changes you. I then became a shift leader, where several cottages full of children and their caregivers would call upon you when in dire need. At this time, I carried a company phone and walkie simultaneously, and sometimes, (sometimes frequently), being called on both at once. I lasted 14ish months.
After an outright breakdown and a brain/body/mind/spirit freeze that lasted about three weeks, I returned, donning new armor, borne of prayers and tears and sadness stitched to hope. Lastly, I took a mantle as healthcare liaison. Many of our children had complex medical problems that accompanied the traumas of their past. I attempted to talk to them (the kids), find out what they wanted, from us as caregivers and in life. I then attended hundreds of medical specialist appointments armed with information gathered by diligent but tired daily care staff. After, I would return and communicate new medical instructions and then repeat the process after scheduling up to 10 appointments a month, sometimes more. And kids are kids. They got hurt. They get sick. Pandemics hit. Fears set it. Questions abound. Answers...lack, unfortunately.
Over time, the endemic need for communication snuffed out my desire to speak, and to sing surely. In the end, I gave up gifts because I wished that tomorrow would never come, trying to avoid the problems I couldn’t solve. I dreamed of a million ways to die or be gravely harmed to get away from them all. I gave everything and my distinguished sprocket got ground up in a heart-rended machine. On the other end, I’m smarter for it. I make my money the way I want now. I use my energy in ways that are sustainable and the returns are satisfying and complete. The journey taught me much about the mind, our capacity for love and forgiveness, and the sacrifices required for cardinal transfiguration. I stayed the course though, bound to “meaningful work.” I paid for it. In ways I never dreamed of.
My adjustment disorder with anxiety features and adrenal fatigue manifested as many painful dissonances. The first thing I noticed early on was an exaggerated startle response. At the time, I could get spooked easily, and it would shake me to the core when someone would “get me good.” To the point that even my dogs got jumpy around me. I also had very harsh self-critical thoughts and eventually, they could become debilitating. There were many days that needed almost too much effort to get out of bed and face what I had before me. My mood changed too. On the daily. At first, my husband and I tried to give it a cute character (with names like “grumpus”) in hopes that it would be more tolerable and approachable. When that failed, I asked him to attempt to disarm me with cute sounds, “moews” more specifically. That worked for a bit. And still does to this day. But after a while, nothing helped. If I didn’t do yoga, I felt like I was ten steps from nutso at all times.
Then the breakdowns got really ugly. Like, bang you head against a bathroom door to the point of breaking it ugly. Like, bang you fist so hard against your car dashboard console that you cause semi-serious injury to oneself. I became what felt like another person, as many have said before me. I vowed to be a being of peace but expressed anger and sadness with severe vehemence. It scared me and scared me. And people- I could barely tolerate myself let alone other people. I began to despise all social interaction. I didn’t want to risk being ashamed inevitably, in some way. And for a glimmer of time, I grew to hate being human. Hate myself to the very essence.