We are all feeling a little stir crazy right now.
No one ever imagined that the lockdown situation would have lasted more than 2 weeks, a month tops… but here we are.
While it’s easy to find statistics for death tolls and infection rates plastered on Facebook walls and media outlets, there are some other rising numbers the media doesn’t seem to be covering.
The mental health crisis happening right now in America is a silent pandemic. I haven’t spoken to a single person who isn’t feeling a mental strain right now.
Humans are not meant to be isolated from one another. Virtual connection has literally been proven through science to leave people feeling lonelier. That’s right. You actually feel more alone connected through a screen.
Human brains produce oxytocin when we hug, kiss, smile or even just see someone we love walk into a room. This hormone is very helpful in boosting our immune systems.
Isolation causes depression and anxiety which actually weaken your immune systems. This can’t do much good when we’re worrying about fighting off a virus.
I completely understand why we are being asked to stay home, wear masks and gloves, and social distance. I am very thankful for our health care and other essential workers, and wish to support them by any means I can, and if that means abiding by these rules I will.
Now that being said…. I am f*^$king losing it!
A day before Mother’s Day our state was told that the lift of the NYS “pause” would not be happening next week. Now it is moved until June.
I literally felt my soul die a little when I heard this. Yes I can read, yes I listen… I know that he is opening regions in stages… but I can say with certainty from numbers that my region won’t be one of them.
I am blessed to be able to earn an income from home. My husband is considered essential and is working as well. So we haven’t even had to worry about half the burden so many are dealing with right now.
I have had family members and friends who have contracted the virus, and even been hospitalized for it, but I have suffered no great loss from this.
I am lucky to have my husband and daughter to keep me company while we’re stuck at home. Something I do not take for granted at all. I feel for all those doing this alone.
Still, my mental health has been suffering since the start…. and I am in no way alone.
Every single friend I have spoken to in the last few weeks has talked about the mental toll this is taking on them. We are all feeling it.
The media isn’t sharing the fact that suicide rates, depression, anxiety and domestic abuse is on an exponential rise right now, but if you google it on your own you’ll find it.
We need human connection.
You could argue that I’m getting plenty of human connection at home right now… and I don’t want to complain because I realize I’m blessed.
Let me paint you a picture of what being quarantined at home with a toddler looks like right now.
We wake up every day around 6:30.
If I want any time to do anything for myself I have to get up by 5:30 or it isn’t happening.
She just finished getting her molars in all at once, and now her canines decided they’re gonna come in all at once as well! If you don’t know, this means she’s cranky AF from the second she wakes up til nap time 5 hours later.
About an hour after she wakes up she demands her breakfast. Although she can say quite a few words, I still have to guess what she’ll want to eat for breakfast each day… and if I get it wrong it’s tantrum city. Some days I can get through this first wave of tantrums, and somedays I want to cry too.
After breakfast I usually try to get some work done from home. This means I use my trusty babysitter Sesame Street to watch her for an hour or two so I can sit at the table and attempt to get something done uninterrupted…
5 minutes later… I’m interrupted.
She wants to “help work”. It’s adorable but after a few minutes I wanna cry. She isn’t much help… in fact she just makes it impossible to get anything done. My husband is a real hero on the days he is home, and this interruption can be avoided for the most part… when he’s not home I’m pretty much interrupted every few minutes until nap time.
Work is harder than ever before and ten times as stressful. I miss being able to drop my girl off to a babysitter so I could get my work done, without having to stop and change diapers, make sure someone isn’t going to jump off a couch to her doom, or eat something she shouldn’t. Now I want to cry about an hour into work because it takes me twice as long to do anything.
Finally it’s naptime! Emphasis on FINALLY!
This is the two hour period of time I use to cram in any important things that need to be done. Usually I use this time to get as much work as I can done. If it’s not a workday I clean my house, I try to take a shower that’s longer than 3 minutes, and I may even shave! Cleaning is almost impossible stuck home with a toddler unless they’re napping, so I usually pick my battles and save it for bedtime or days off. You can tell me cleaning can wait because no one is coming over… but a messy home just makes my anxiety skyrocket!
Two hours goes way faster than it used to… she’s up again! I kinda missed her, but I’m also kinda stressed about her being awake again. Bye bye productivity time.
Lunch time means the same battle that happened for breakfast. This time she usually throws most of the food to the dog and demands my food… which is the same as hers, but for some reason tastes better off my plate.
The next few hours are a blur of tantrums, reading the same books ten thousand times, trying to give her some outside time (and myself because otherwise I will cry), and trying to finish my work.
Now it’s the race to get something edible together quickly while my daughter has a meltdown.
She is crying because she wants to be cooking with me but I can’t let her up by the stove that’s hot, or near the knife I’m using to cut the veggies. I try to use the tv again as a distraction but this time she usually doesn’t take the bait. I end up cooking a meal listening to her scream at me and pull on my legs until I pick her up… this makes cooking dinner very stressful and take much longer.
She usually throws half of that on the floor too.
Bedtime… a mad dash to get a bath, some pjs, and a bottle. We read a book, the tantrums melt away and now she snuggles up to me and daddy. At this point of the night I finally feel peace… I feel so loved and forget some of the stress for a while. I rock her and sing her nightly lullaby and lay her down….
Peace and quiet… just what I need.
Now if it’s a work day I get right back to it! I usually work for another hour or so, then I clean the house… and by the time I’m done… bed time for mama.
Guess what… repeat that every damn day.
On days off you can pepper in a little extra outdoor time, and a LOT more chore time.
There are no breaks.
No binge watching tv shows.
No naps for mama.
No trips to the nail salon for an hour.
No unaccompanied trips to target where I can aimlessly browse the store.
No cocktails with my best friends.
No nights out with my mama tribe to share our battle stories, and decompress.
No alone time… real alone time where I can do something just for myself.
This is what it’s like to be quarantined as a mother of a toddler.
Add on the strain or trying to educate your child from home, having multiple children, being a single parent, being unemployed or a single income family now.
Try being a brand new mama who just went through a traumatic experience birthing a baby during a pandemic… many alone, and now you’re navigating this new chaos completely isolated. The mental strain can be unbearable.
Every single mother I know has compared this to feeling like they did the first few months after giving birth. Those baby blues, the isolation. We are all feeling like postpartum is hitting us hard again, without that new bundle of joy.
In a normal situation we need that human connection of a night out with a friend. We need in person conversation with anyone who isn’t a child or your partner. We need that time to vent, to cry on each other shoulders, and to feel supported and less alone… we can’t do that right now and it feels all the more isolating.
So check on your mama friends. They already do so much on any normal day… and right now they are handling double the normal physical, emotional and mental load.
They’re therapists, teachers, and caregivers to their children. Support systems for their family. They always feel the pressure to be everyone’s everything, and even more now. That’s a lot.
When all this is over I hope all the mamas get the chance to have the ultimate moms night out. Leave your cell phones on silent, and tell your husbands to figure it out. We have a lot of decompressing to do.
Dads you guys deserve one of these nights too if I’m being honest… I see you.
In all seriousness, this is a very hard time for everyone mentally. We all need a little extra love right now, and are all craving some human interaction. But mamas, I know how hard this is hitting you.
We are always the ones telling our children and families it is going to be alright, and right now that’s what we need to hear desperately.
You are not alone, and if you need a support group please contact me. I would love to get one together.
We will get through this. We got through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and it made us stronger… so will this.
I hope we can all experience a hug with our friends, a long leisurely trip to target, or a moms night out soon.. but until then just know you aren’t alone mama.
You are stronger than you know, and you can do hard things. That’s what moms do. We got this.