I’m not going to lie, 2020 has been a rough one. Understatement of the century, am I right? I’m one of the fortunate ones seemingly untouched by the true horrors of COVID-19, but I’m not OK. I’m not fine, all right, a little right, or anywhere close to right.
I’m told by those smarter than myself that it’s OK not to be OK. That’s a relief for someone like me who needs permission to not have it all together.
Do I have countless blessings? Yes, but I’m not OK.
Am I full of gratitude? Yes, but I’m not OK.
Do I try to focus on the positive when I can? Yes, but I’m not OK.
And it’s OK for you not to be OK, too. We aren’t puzzles that can be easily solved if we fit the gratitude-shaped piece into the blessing border, and connect meditation and yoga with self-help books and mantras.
The pandemic has wrecked my mental health, not all at once, but by bits and pieces. Some days I feel like my sanity is tethered to me by a string of thread. I want to run away, but there is nowhere to go during a pandemic.
I have proven to be very resilient over the years, but this feels different because I don’t know how long the pandemic will last or how long I will have to be strong. Not knowing is the worst for me.
How does your not OK feel? This is how mine feels:
- I’m stuck in the middle seat on a long flight with no leg room or elbow space. My seat doesn’t recline. I desperately want to jump out of my skin and tear the door off the plane mid-flight. I’m stuck in my chair and just have to be happy with my cup of ginger ale for a million more miles.
- I’m walking a tight-rope made of a single piece of blue string not meant to hold a human, let alone one chock-full of Uber Eats and Grub Hub. I’ll fall into an abyss of nothingness with one quick snap.
- I’m lost and can’t see where I’m going or where I’ve been. I don’t recognize any of the landmarks or signs that tell me I’m on the right path. I’m wandering, stumbling, and taking tiny steps with the hope I’ll soon be home.
- A time bomb is counting down in my head, but I don’t know if I have 30 seconds or 30 years. I just know I will explode. It could be a little smoke and noise or it could leave a crater where my neighborhood used to be. Tick. Tick. Tick.
- I can burst into flames just as easily as I can burst into tears.
- I’m wearing a straight-jacket made of heavy wool that makes my skin itch and burn. I can’t move my arms to scratch my skin and it’s the only thing I want to do. My skin is screaming.
- Black tentacles are wrapped around my internal organs and tighten every time I fight. My tummy bursts like a water balloon. Stomach acid floods my body and eats away my brain.
- A tornado rips up all my fears and swirls them inside my mind so furiously chunks of gray matter are lobbed like grenades and all my happy little memories are leveled.
- Everything matters and nothing matters.
- I want to curl up under my work-from-home desk and shrink down to the size of a dust bunny and disappear into the heater vent where I don’t have to care about anything. I’ll run away with a lonely spider and we’ll cuddle in its web—just before it spins me into a cocoon and saves me for a midnight nibble.
I’m not OK, but I will be. I promise.