What is even happening right now? I’ve asked myself that question more times than I can count in the last five days. I have no answer. And anyone I ask is also looking for the answer.
I stood in my classroom doorway on Friday afternoon saying goodbye to each one of my kids as I waved to their parents, shrugging, shaking my head, smiling like I was even remotely okay with all of this. You see, when I’m Mrs. McMenemy to my 28, I’m put together, assured, confident and can think clearly. When the reality of how life was about to drastically change hit, I was no longer put together, assured, confident or able to think. I could feel myself unravelling and I couldn’t stop it. Panic and anxiety took over and there was nothing I could do. You can almost feel yourself changing. And that feeling in and of itself is overwhelming, which begins the vicious cycle.
The cancellation emails coming one by one, the closure signs all over the city. The empty shelves. The looks on strangers faces. The paranoia of germs everywhere had me clutching a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer like a security blanket. The final straw was the girl at the grocery store who stared at me with a sweet smile as I approached the shopping cart coral and said, “Can I wipe down a shopping cart for you today?”
What is even happening right now?
My eyes filled with tears. I smiled weakly, took my clean cart, threw in my headphones and wandered the store in a state of just overwhelming confusion, but not before dousing my hands in hand sanitizer one more time.
I’d been keeping a friend in the loop of my panic and anxiety and seeking comfort in their company. They’d been checking in, talking me off the ledge when necessary and reassuring me that all of this would be okay, that I would be okay. Then, as they realized I was spiralling, they offered a piece of advice that I am so grateful for. Stop. Breathe. Go for a run. So simple. So easy to do. So, I did. I stopped. I took a deep breath. I grabbed a hoodie, threw on some shoes, turned up the music and ran.
Suddenly, my head was clearing. I could think. My brain wasn’t foggy. I was making rational decisions. I was breathing. I was making mental checklists of what I needed to do every day to make sure I felt like my head was above water. Simple things. Eat. Lay off the caffeine. Slow the social media consumption. Shower. Run.
Maybe your “run” is reading, writing or Netflix. Figure out what is it and do it. When life gets to be too much to handle, run. Your clear head will thank you. And check in on your anxious friends. That check in that day was everything. From an anxious adult, trust me. Those check ins, those, “Hey, just letting you know you’re gonna be okay and I’m here when you need me” check ins are what have gotten me through these last few days and what will surely get me through the next little while.
This is such an uncertain time in our lives. Something we weren’t prepared for. It’s overwhelming. The work from home responsibilities, the home-school schedules, the to do lists, the nothing to do lists. The guilt of doing nothing. The overwhelming feeling of needing to do everything. The panic. The anxiety.
Sometimes, it’s just too much.
Stop. Breathe. Go for a run.