Generally, around this time of year, I write out my reflections and reminisce on all the good that came my way. I’m not going to lie; writing out this post has been a bit of a struggle for me. When I look back on the past 12 months, I am shrouded with disappointment. I wish I could pinpoint the exact reason for feeling this way. The frustration lies with others, our society, and (surprise!) myself. My anxiety has been through the washer many times this year, and the frays are starting to unravel.

2020 has been challenging, and my mental health has been slowly deteriorating. I’ve been withdrawing due to having zero energy to be social, even over video calls. It’s been difficult, it’s been intense, and that’s OK. So many others have gone through significant losses this year: the loss of family, loss of friends, loss of jobs, loss of oneself. We cannot deny the surge of grievance that has presented itself, and we need to appreciate that everyone deals with things differently. Please be understanding if others aren’t present right now, there’s so much that we don’t discuss online, and withdrawals are just a way to recharge. Please keep checking in on those you care about; it will make all the difference in the world in the long run.

All aspects of society have been hit by this pandemic somehow, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and now causing lockdown burnout. It’s hard not to be angry right now; we’re just about to start another lockdown, thanks to those who believe they’re superior to the pandemic. The condescending tones regarding wearing a mask, refusal to keep 6 feet apart and continuous parties over the maximum allowance of individuals… It’s enough to drive one mad. It’s not cute to deny what’s happening because it’s inconvenient for you or doesn’t fit your lifestyle. My perception of many people (including some that I considered ‘friends’) has drastically changed forever. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to open up my eyes, but I am thankful on some level.

I was still considered on Maternity leave up till the end of June. When I initially booked off my 12-month leave, I was ecstatic to have a full summer with my daughter, galivanting around. I had a lot of activities and visits planned, but none of them came to fruition. We tried to make the best of the situation, but it wasn’t the same. Trying to navigate this pandemic landscape with a toddler is frustrating because you cannot communicate with one another. I feel as if my first summer off was robbed and that my daughter is not getting the social aspects she needs for development. I wish I knew how to fix this, but I don’t think I can. This has caused me to overthink (a LOT), which has not been helpful.
When I went back to work, I was excited to get my old routine/schedule, but even those normalcies didn’t tend to my anxieties. It was challenging to find my groove again in the corporate world, and there were some days where I ended up crying. Even though I was working from home and close to my daughter as I could be, I was still disconnected. It took a month to get back into the swing of things, and I’m still trying to balance my home and work life – which is quite trying when you’re under one roof for all.

My usual stress relievers/coping strategies have been unattainable. I’m not a huge social butterfly, but I enjoy going to a local coffee shop to people watch or have the option. When things seem to be too much, I run to the gym to lash it out for an hour on several machines. Having these removed from my life doesn’t seem like it would cause a huge difference, but it does feel like my issues are worsening because of it. I think the key here is to have a routine and stick to it. I’ve fallen off my wagon a couple of times, and it’s hard to find the motivation to stick to a routine when the only person seeing results is you. Remember that it’s OK, and try to jump back on when you can. After all, we’re trying to get better for ourselves and not others.

During all of this, my husband was still waiting to hear back from the film industry when he could officially start again. It didn’t happen until October, meaning that he was unemployed from August 2019 till October 2020. It caused a severe strain on our finances and relationship – I still tear up just thinking of how much stress we were both under during this unprecedented time. On the one hand, I was elated to have a full-time Dad during my daughter’s milestone year. On the other hand, both of us were going through the motions, not communicating and not fully present. There’s so much more that I want to say on this subject, but I’m going to end it with one thought: If the both of you continue to show up/be present, no matter what was done or said, that’s unconditional love. Unconditional love is bittersweet to me; the last time I ever honestly had that in my life was with my adoptive mother, who passed on in 1998. It’s nice to have that feeling back regardless of the stressors that come with it. It’s hard to fight for a relationship when it’s just one person putting in all the effort; I feel thankful that he was willing to fight for us, too.

With this prolonged quarantine, I’m not surprised that it’s affected me both physically and mentally. Knowing that I tend to hibernate come winter, I decided to be proactive and start therapy once again. It’s been a slow crawl, but I think I have some pretty tangible and attainable goals. Even though I’ve been in therapy multiple times before, I’m still going and treating it like a ‘booster shot.’ I know that my feelings of disappointment can and will dissipate, but it’s been taking too long to do it myself. 

So, this year has come and gone, and what do I have to show for it?

Not much, aside from a sassy daughter who is keeping me on my toes, and that’s OK.

Not every year can be great, and I feel that everyone has been through the wringer more than once this year. Nothing is normal about what we’re going through right now, and I don’t think that we will ever get back to where we were before this all happened. I, for one, accept and welcome this.

If we could stop for one moment during this holiday time and be thankful for the little things, I think that could give us the glimmer of hope that we all need to continue to 2021. I am grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly, and the copious amounts of coffee that gets me through the day.

What are you thankful for?

Some of you have noticed my absence on here, and I just wanted to touch base.

As I mentioned in a few posts before, I’ve been in isolation months before this quarantine took effect. I would say that I’ve been a homebody for almost 6 months now. Being home has been a challenge on my mental health, and it’s also taken a toll on my relationship with others.

When things are too much, I generally back away, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying my best to tread in the shallow water while observing the catastrophes surrounding me.

My husband has been unemployed for 10 months now, and the stress of that has been eating away. With no real start date on when things will turn around for the film industry, it’s been a struggle for us to stay positive. My maternity leave will end soon, and I am shrouded with uncertainty even though I am excited to get back to my old routine. It’s hard for me to fall asleep most nights now because my mind is racing with what-ifs. I am exhausted in more ways than one.

My health isn’t any better, and I am entirely to blame for the majority of it.
I’ve gained back all of the weight that I lost months after giving birth. I am not as active as I once was, and that’s given me a slew of secondary issues that make it hard to find the motivation to get up and go. Walking up and down the stairs with my daughter is leaving me breathless, and I’m on the verge of tears, thinking I won’t be able to catch up to her soon.

I’ve also been dealing with jaw problems and perimenopause symptoms, which are the icing on top of everything else.

I can hear people getting annoyed whenever I bring some of these things up, so I’ve just stopped. I preach about opening up and talking, yet here I am doing the opposite. In the grand scheme of things, complaining seems trivial. Who has time to complain about my relationship with my husband, my extreme exhaustion, or the severe daily hot flashes when there are more significant issues? From my perspective, everyone is going through their own shit, so mine seems mundane.

My heart is heavy for the world.
It’s been a challenge to be an empath during these unprecedented times. I’ve tried to limit my social media or news outlets to get a breather, but that is only good for maybe a day or two.

When I watch my daughter play, my chest gets heavy. My anxiety-ridden mind wonders why I would bring a tiny human into a broken world. Her slobbery kisses generally ground me back, but those thoughts can jump back at any moment.

I’m trying to stay hopeful that things will get better soon, but some days it’s hard to be positive. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this, so for those who are also struggling: I feel you.

The last thinking trap that I posted about was Jumping to Conclusions (embed) – Now, to delve a little deeper, I would like to talk about mind reading. It’s a sub-section of jumping to conclusions and very popular when reacting to a certain situation.

What is mind-reading? When we assume what others are thinking and feeling without having any evidence to support this idea.

Example: Walking past a group of people who are whispering and laughing, thinking that they’re talking about you.

A mind-reading superpower would be completely beneficial in this instance, so you can confirm if your response to this assumption should be true or not. It’s highly likely that it’s not true, but our minds are funny this way

Since this superpower is non-existent, we need to challenge this thinking trap that we put ourselves into.

Ask yourself these realistic questions:
What evidence do you have that this is what the person/people are thinking?
Have they said this to you, or are you imagining what they might be thinking?

It’s effortless to assume what others might be thinking, but if you don’t investigate your assumptions, you’ll be prone to think negatively with every interaction. Withdrawing from this situation might seem valid, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

In this instance, I’m not saying to go up to this group and demand to know if they were talking about you. My god, that alone is anxiety-inducing in itself! (If you can do this, honestly, KUDOS to you!)
All I’m saying is to think critically in these situations, and don’t jump the gun on what others are thinking or feeling.

BUT if you do somehow gain this superpower, please give it to others with anxiety!

When I was younger and didn’t know how to assess my anxiety correctly, I fell into several thinking traps. The biggest one that I had to overcome was jumping to conclusions.

I was an expert at making predictions about what was going to happen with little to no evidence.

After my first panic attack, I remember when my heart was racing that I was going to have a heart attack. Even though I was young and in excellent health, I honestly thought that this was going to happen even though I had no evidence that this was likely to happen. Worse, it happened in front of people, which caused me to think that I was crazy.

Learning to recognize when this was happening and questioning my conclusions was an actual work in progress. It takes a lot of hard work to switch a negative thinking trap, but there are still ways that you can challenge yourself.

The trick is to view your situation objectively and ask realistic questions:
(1) Ask yourself if you have any evidence to suggest that your outcome is likely.
(2) Ask yourself if you DO have any evidence that suggests it might not happen or if another result is more likely.
(3) What are the chances that an unfortunate event is going to happen?
(4) How many times have you thought of this before, and how many times has your outcome come true?

This WILL be a work in progress, and you won’t be able to switch your brain to this thinking immediately. I still find myself in certain situations where I don’t notice my immediate negativity. Often my jumping to conclusions feels justified and real, which is why it could take a while for me to step back and assess the situation. Remember to prioritize asking questions over finding answers!