Hard to believe its been well over a couple of months since I have felt the desire to write again. In fact I’d lose almost every desire that once pulsated throughout my body as quickly as a candle being blown out by a brisk draft through a window pane. By the end of January in Calgary Alberta, the once magical snow kissed landscape begins to feel relentless, as its winds become inhospitable, piercing through your heavily layered body.
Like clockwork, I can always anticipate the Seasonal Affective Disorder spread its heavy wet blanket over me around this time. Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) is about as reliable as those Phone Scammers around tax seasons. This years dose of S.A.D. was especially brutal for myself as I not only already deal with having clinical depression/anxiety, but if you didn’t notice we are also still in the middle of an ever evolving dumpster fire of pandemic.
Past years I’ve timed vacations around this uninvited guest- but alas travel to a tropical destination continues to remain out of reach for us Canadians.
As we are all well beyond the one year mark of when the pandemic was declared, the socio-economic effects of the pandemic have long begun to to unearth its devastation. As a social worker who has been steady on the front lines since this time last year I am admittedly weathered, bitter, angry, and feeling forgotten. On the radio I hear daily the well deserved warm thank you’s being offered to Health Care Workers and our hardworking teachers. But I can’t help but feel a pang of hurt when I consider the level of support and interventions we have carried along the way go un-noticed and invisible to the public eye. And I admit, nobody likes to hear about child abuse while they eat their breakfast toast and sip their morning coffee.
So I was actually surprised when I learned that the faculty of social work at the University of Calgary had started a Province-wide research project that looks to understand effects of pandemic on child service workers and the children and families they serve. It was Dr. Heather Boynton, PhD, that recognized something we have all been carrying mostly in silence or behind the closed bathroom stalls where you could find any one of us choking back the tears, or coaxing ourselves to pull it the fuck together.
“People in the mental health field are experiencing mental health and psychological trauma firsthand, as well as layers of grief and loss. However, they’re not recognized as first responders.“Dr. Heather Boynton, PhD
When I reflect on the year I’ve had, I thought about taking tally of all the things that happened to me, whereby I could use it as evidence to excuse myself for feeling the level of low I hit. I had thought about writing out the list of sorrowful details, but shit, we’ve all lost so much. And for a good chunk of 2021 I had lost all hope.
And if you are of the super human breed and don’t relate; Loss of hope is more infectious and destructive than the Covid-19 variant that is spreading like wild fire. Lack of hope can mutilate our sense of perception, spoiling and dismantling the very structures that have kept us so strong and resilient. It can impair our once unequivocal sense of purpose on this planet and make us feel as insignificant as an amoeba floating around anonymously.
And I imagine if you were to put me under the microscope, you’d most definitely come across a fleshy white blob, eating Dorito crumbs from the cleavage of their sports bra that had no intention of doing the job it was intended for. And if wasn’t for the tears that would stream down my face on an hourly basis, they’d probably still be there.
When I grew weary of the crying and the binge eating, I’d retreat back into my bed and stare blankly out at the world, waiting for the moment when I could stop feeling this dead inside. The empty void I felt reminded me of when I was a child and would stay up late sometimes, wandering downstairs where there was an old wood floor model TV. I would turn the channel dial on the old TV and all there would be on at that time was static or those colorful bars with that agitating tone. I’d sit and stare at the flickering white noise in anticipation that maybe at the next turn that the welcoming cheerful sounds of a cartoon would soothe my fears of the dark and lonely room. Just like in those moments in the basement, I’d feel paralyzed by the loneliness, unwilling to seek comfort, as it appears that even then I needed to sit with my pain and digest those feelings that terrified me.
I would never wish a deep depression on anyone. There are hundreds of people this last year that have taken their lives as a result of being isolated from their supports, connections, and networks that once made them feel like a necessary person and essential loved one.
I feel profoundly honored that I was not one of those people that chose an alternative way to cope with the pain. This last bout with my ol’ nemesis was transformative in terms of processing my trauma, the grief, and the sorrow that often holds no place in our busy professional/personal relationships. And lets face it, I can’t imagine there are too many individuals lining up to hear about my vicarious traumas, let alone me wanting to hear about yours after the hours of 4:30. If they could just start manufacturing masks that come with a whole energy bubble protector that sprays glitter on shitty attitudes that would be my biggest wish for 2021.
Since I can’t hold my breath for that one, I can breathe that sigh of relief that regular programming has commenced. Victory has not been won entirely over the sadness, but I have begun experiencing the ability to put my body, mouth and mind back into motion. It began with walks with my dog with some tunes, and then blossomed into attending the gym. I introduced a Honey Stick “Pineapple Express” Sativa before bed for a sounder, longer, and more relaxed sleep to aid in my jaw clenching. I’m back on a multivitamin/mineral regiment that I love because they taste like gummi bears. I welcome opportunities to spend time with friends and open up more about how I’m feeling and have been feeling. I hug my dog and I hug her a lot as there is something about her soft fur and the tenderness in her eyes that heals me. I cook for friends and make plans to go on dates- even if my body feels tired and often undesirable. I put that lipstick on keep it pushin’. And lastly, I’ve began feeling like I wanted to write again.
So here we are…slow and steady wins the race against depression and seasonal affective disorder. Today was my baby step back into the blog world again.
Lastly I wanted to share a poem I came across which spoke to me and touched on those feelings of nothingness that I encountered. Its comforting to know that in the depths of those murky rough waters that there are others swimming in the deep with you. The ocean, holding us all in its mouth, a mouth so deep that it has no base
I have sunk into a slow numbness,
perhaps because something broke over me
the second i saw you again.
it’s better to be in full-blown sorrow
than in a fragile happiness,
forever staving off the blackness.
but instead, i have sunk into a slow numbness.
perhaps because you look away from me now
the exact same way that i look away from you.
your aversion gives me numbness.
don’t you see it?
that’s all this ever was. a fear of the numbness. a fear of the pain.
your indifference gives me numbness
because who wants to feel it
when the ripping apart begins.
i have smoked to numbness.
i have cried to numbness.
i have raged to numbness.
i have laughed to numbness.
i have embraced the numbness.
i have dug myself into numbness
but you gave me the shovel.
you gave me the numbness.
and i feel absolutely fine. i feel nothing at all.