My pandemic story has reached a new chapter. I made it through the house-wide purge, the gardening phase, the hiking phase, the biking phase, the manic cleaning, the blissful simplicity, Homeschool Part 1, wine consumption acceptance, the family road trip, and the family tragedy. I somehow skipped the sourdough stage. I have now achieved “high-functioning depression.”
As we head into the fifth month of quarantine, I am still capable of going through the motions required for daily life. But those days now lack joy, and I can’t fake it anymore. My high school cheerleading experience had come in handy in this pandemic; finding a positive spin on this shitty situation for my kids is akin to performing high kicks and jazz hands for your team that’s down 48-2.
I have run out of ideas, projects, vehicles and motivation. The last fun idea I had for my kids involved spreading Elmer’s glue across their hands and peeling it off once it dries. Our garage is packed with anything with wheels in the hopes it would entertain my kids outdoors for an afternoon. And I haven’t taken them hiking in weeks because I think any whining would break me.
I have accepted the crazy-making level of uncertainty in which we live, but I certainly don’t enjoy it. All of my plans have been de-fucking-railed, so for the most part, I’ve simply stopped making plans – both big and small. Whether it be my career or what to eat for lunch, I have no control, and must surrender to the universe (or at least what’s left in the fridge).
Even with school starting in less than one week, we don’t know what the school year will look like. Anyone who thinks they know either attends a private school or is delusional. As a former teacher, I understand that nothing will be official until the school district and the teachers’ union come to an agreement, which I doubt will be achieved before the start of the school year. One positive result of my dulled attitude toward life these days, is that this doesn’t make me overly anxious, and I’m not freaking out about the school year in front of my kids (yet).
In my current state, the chipped paint on the walls torment me, dinner ideas confound me, and my daily existence leaves me wanting.
This blah, this malaise, feeling like you’re on the verge of giving up – I think it’s normal. Well, as much as any of this is normal. It’s not like we’re not finding joy in our regular activities and companions. Our regular activities are off-limits and our regular companions are also quarantine-ing. Basically, it’s depressing, and I’m admitting that I am depressed.
This week, I determined that a project might lift my spirits, or at least give me purpose and a distraction. I was desperate enough to consider training for a marathon, but my knees are aching after every 5k, so that idea was quickly dismissed. Then I somehow got it into my head that we should build a clubhouse in this unused space on the side of the house. The kids were all in, we came up with a killer name – “Dragon Alley” – and even started preparing the space. My husband helped me with the shopping list, I picked up all the supplies from the lumber yard, and was all set to get to work.
That’s when I realized that I don’t even know how to attach pieces of wood to one another. It’s beyond the basic skill of using an electric drill – my brain simply does not process how it is supposed to work. So I ended up in tears, and increased my depression in the process.
I don’t know how to pull myself out of this funk. Happiness is a luxury item that I simply can’t afford right now. Yet, I can afford groceries and electric bills and even Chromebooks to help lesson the certain chaos of homeschool. I recognize that my struggles, my complaints, my woes are minimal in the bigger picture. I do, however, want others in my situation to know that they are not alone.