anxiety, community, home

The last three months

To my dedicated base of readers: happy holidays. I myself did not get to fully enjoy Thanksgiving, nor celebrate Chanukah, nor celebrate Christmas. New Year’s Eve, I was bedridden, recovering from a 3-week hospital stay. I’m not ashamed of why I was hospitalized, but at the same time I do not feel like going into it now on the wide-open internet, but I will say I physically suffered from being in the hospital. I pray you had a less-shitty (which is to say less 2020) holiday season and you got to see your people safely and that everyone was in good spirits and good health.

My illness (and two hospital stays) means that in addition to having been away from blogging (but you knew that), I’ve also been off from work for almost three months. For a fun thought experiment you can try at home, try taking the largest source of empowerment and self-worth from a person with anxiety. Hilarity does not ensue. I love my job and the people that work with me, and I am unmoored without them.

The anxiety over wanting to return to work was nothing new; I’ve had anxiety for at least four years! What’s new is that it faded. I don’t feel anxiety because I am resigned. I know there is nothing I can do or say to speed up the return process. What positive updates, you may say! Not quite. I am numb with how much has been taken from me or otherwise lost. I physically cannot give any more fucks. The fucks have run out. This also translates to not really wanting to talk to or see others. I feel a sense of connection to family and friends who have reached out to check on me, but I am hyper aware of people who knew I was sick and did not reach out. (That said, my phone entirely died during the hospital stay and I have zero record of anything sent to me most of December.)

Despite the many loved individuals reaching out to me, I’m struggling with feeling community-less. Part of this is covid.. there is no in-person group activity happening at all in my circle of friends. Of my two main communities, one community won’t let me back in just yet, and the other I chose to step back from in November. Can I still be the angry librarian if I’m not working in a library? (I hope so, because WordPress just auto-renewed for another year.) I chose to quit because pandemic hours meant I had to go in for one two-hour shift each week and it was too much effort to juggle, and I will be happy to work there again once our hours normalize. It feels so different walking in now, but some of that feeling is due to pandemic/masks/plexiglass screens. I know that I am still part of the community, even though technically my role has changed. Now, instead of fearing that I’m the last to know library goings on, I actually am the last to know.

And for the first time ever, I’m okay with being the last to know (or, gasp!, not knowing). I’ve disconnected. I don’t even feel the anxiety over politics (thanks, Obama) because we are on our way to making the country operate like a rational entity again. Oh, and, I haven’t read the Skimm since November. It’s a wonder what being uninformed can free a person from! I was by no means a news junkie, but even the one political email I opened per day was stressful as hell. I’ll dip my toes back into the water eventually, but for right now, I’ve eliminated or disassembled many of my triggers. Medication helps, too, so I should not pretend I’ve reached this non-anxious state alone.

In summary, the last 3 months of my life have been not great. I have struggled with how to talk and write about something I don’t want to talk or write about, and this is intentionally vague to support that effort. It goes without saying, but I wanted to emphasize again that last year was a terrible year for traditional community-building methods, and I still miss our old way of life. I entered the hospital (still) a nervous wreck about the pandemic and exposure, and left as a person who often forgets to bring a mask on the way to run errands. Cured, or broken? I write to again remind people to check on their squad. Just because things are “looking up” does not necessarily mean all people feel up. I write to remind others and also hold myself accountable, as many people have reached out to me and I feel guilty only texting them back because I don’t want to talk on the phone. I write to say that yes I am jubilant about Biden and Harris in the White House but even that joy isn’t enough to motivate me when I have absolutely nothing to do. Biden and Harris can’t be my workout buddies, nor can they decide whether I do instacart or go to the damn grocery store myself.

So please excuse me as I go prepare for my day (yes, it is 11:30am). I will shower, put on real pants and go to the holy land of Trader Joe’s. God willing they will have the fancy gluten free muffins and I will even allow myself a seltzer purchase (and maybe, too, I’ll take a peek at the greeting cards). This is truly the one thing I have to do today. Here’s hoping I can find the motivation to pull it off. Though honestly, I might do my taxes instead out of procrastination. Tonight I’m meeting one of my beautiful friends for a virtual chat as we watch Uncorked, a Netflix Party of 2.

Slowly but surely I’m finding ways to pass my time as I enter week 3 of the attempt to reenter work. This month has been nowhere near as hard as being in the hospital, so I can’t hyperbolize, but I’m definitely not responding to the situation well. Send mail, send texts, even send thoughts and prayers. Anything is better than nothing!

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