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  • Writer's pictureJ.C. Hannigan


Updated: Apr 20

In March, I had a mania episode that led to a psychotic break. Since then, I have been figuring out my triggers and getting myself back to a healthy state. It's not easy. I feel like I'm climbing a muddy hill in the rain. The mud is slick and washing away beneath my feet, my hands are muddy from slipping and sliding, but I'm still climbing. Drenched in mud with cold rains pelting me, soaking me to the bone, and I'm still ascending.

One of my big stress triggers was virtual learning. We struggled so much with it, and when I had my breakdown we decided to put the boys back in-class. They were there for seven days before the government announced the closures of schools.

I told myself it was okay, we did it once before and we can do it again with some adjustments. The adjustments are simple, really: we're going to do our best to stay caught up and pay attention in class, but we're going to have grace for ourselves when we don't understand something, and if we need extra help, ask for it, not shut down.

Shutting down, feeling meh. Our household has been struggling a lot with that. Our spirits are down, our hearts missing our people and our adventures.

My oldest turned twelve on Friday, and despite doing our best to infuse the day with birthday magic, I think it fell short. I wasn't able to get balloons and streamers (they aren't essential), and even the drive by birthday parade I planned had to be cancelled after I read they considered birthday parades the same as protesting and would be ticketing people for doing them. I had to explain to my son that he couldn't wave at people as they drove by, because of COVID.

I know we're all doing the best we can with these circumstances, but the sadness in my son's eyes when he realized no cake, no family, no friends, and no drive by parade knocked me back. Some of these restrictions make sense, while others are about as ridiculous as wearing a tin-foil hat to prevent aliens from reading your mind. If aliens existed and could read your mind, tin-foil would not be the thing to stop them.

We're doing our best to sit tight and wait out the storm, but it's hard. New problems arrive on the winds of that storm, carrying new challenges we have to figure out a way to navigate. A move is now in our immediate future, where we will go is uncertain at this point. Circumstances changed though, and we have no choice but to go with the current.

You know that iconic scene in Friends where they're trying to carry a couch up the stairs, and Ross is yelling "pivot" over and over again, pissing Chandler right off? I feel like I'm both Ross and Chandler, telling myself to pivot over and over again, then getting angry at myself.

It's just...I'm tired of pivoting, you know? I'm sure you do, I'm sure you're tired of pivoting, too.

Apparently, the "blah" feeling so many of us have is languishing. I think the best way we're going to overcome these feelings is by talking about them, though. Admitting we're struggling can be freeing, and I think we're all feeling pretty trapped these days. We're all stuck climbing this slick and steep muddy hill in the cold rain.

Author Carissa McIntyre wrote a blog post called Rollercovid Ride that resonated so much with me, especially this part:

"Have you ever been at an amusement park, and while you’re riding a rollercoaster ride, and it’s your turn to get off… the attendant just lets you go round another time? That uncertainty, that rush, that unsure what’s happening but fuck it let’s ride on anyway…
What would you do if he just… walked away, turned his back to you and left, letting the ride continue to run, and run and run? Into the night, into the day, into forever.
I feel like I’m stuck in a loop, and someone else has to let me out, but they forgot about me.
I feel like the tracks are falling apart and no one can stop the rollercoaster car long enough to stop them from crumbling and falling to bits due to overuse and stress.
I feel like sometimes the tracks are smooth and the view is lovely but I’m pretty sure that around the next bend, there’s a chunk missing."

She eloquently expresses the feelings of hope for a break in the storm that keep us going, and the importance of acknowledging when and where we are struggling.

Keep pivoting, my friends. Keep climbing that muddy hill. There will be a break in the storm, and someone's going to let us off this endless rollercoaster ride soon.

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