It’s been a while since I last posted a blog or for that matter, much on social media. Mental Health is a subject that has become less taboo over the past several years and this blog is dedicated to this subject.
Over the past 2 years, our world, our country, our city and our homes have been affected in many different ways by the Global Pandemic. We have all watched as loved ones suffered with COVID itself or suffered because of COVID. We watched some of our closest friends and family members pull away from society and social interactions, we watched our elder population suffer major losses and the pandemic exposed some very broken systems that failed us all when we needed them most.
I cannot speak for everyone but I can share my story and maybe someone will read it and recognize that they have a “sister” struggling along with them. 2 years ago, I was finishing up a trip to Anaheim, a trip I make every year. Just before I jumped on the plane to head to California, it was announced that the trade show I was attending was canceled and California was headed into a state of emergency because of the pandemic. We didn’t really know what the next 2 years would bring and I would confidently say that that trip ended up being my last real sense of freedom (not sure that’s the right word but I’m going with it). My colleagues and I had a great few days enjoying the beach, dinners and most of all each other as the world shut down around us. We had no idea what was going to happen next for all of us in our respective countries. I can go down the path of political views etc., but that’s not what this blog is about. I want to address how these last 2 years have affected my mental health.
2020 was crazy with business and the struggles of attaining goods to manufacture the products we all love. It took months for manufacturers to get back on track and some sadly are still struggling 2 years later. As a result, some didn’t make it while some thrived depending on what they offered. The stress of not knowing what was happening next in our world and the stress of trying to keep retailer shelves full was building within. I also run a horse boarding barn and we went from having this easy “come and go” as you please atmosphere to a schedule to make sure that we could reduce the amount of people sharing space in the barn at the same time. Our barn family was feeling the pressure and my safe/happy place was now affected by this pandemic, in turn adding more stress. I experienced lack of sleep and lack of drive to plan ahead and keep moving forward. Emotionally it was all taking a toll and 2020 was getting the better of me. In rolls 2021, and I thought it can’t get much worse and I need to pull myself out of this slump and get back on track. The lack of in-person social interaction was getting the best of all of us. We missed our family gatherings, seeing our friends, hugs, tradeshows and in person retailer meetings. We were all adjusting to a life of solitude and zoom meetings.
My life turned upside down once again in February 2021. My mom called my sister and I one day sobbing and said “I can’t find the laundry room”. Panic set in for both of us and we quickly got to our mom as fast as possible and called an ambulance when we noticed she was really not doing well physically or mentally. Our lives changed that day, but we didn’t realize just how far it would go.
Mom had been previously diagnosed with vascular dementia 5 years back and we knew the day would come that it wouldn’t be little things she was forgetting anymore. We also had no idea the battle we would face.
First it was just a struggle to be able to see her and be by her side in the hospital because of the policies with regards to visitors and the pandemic. The first 2 weeks, I was the only one allowed in with her and I’ve never been so frightened. The decline in her health and mental state was so quick and both my sister and I felt like we were in the back seat of a runaway car. My focus was on her and nothing else. I cried everyday and struggled with basic tasks like showering and eating. Mom was in the hospital almost 3 months before she was transferred to long term care. Every time they moved her within the hospital and then when she went to LTC, we had to fight to see her, to be with her and to help support her as much as possible.
I will never forget the first day I walked in to see her and she no longer knew who I was. If I wasn’t broken before that, I was now left shattered mentally in thousands of pieces. My focus was surviving, just getting through one day after the other and trying my best to keep everyone happy, because that’s who I am. I felt like a failure at everything, I had lost my drive for work, the love for my barn life and day to day life with my family. My seizures returned because of lack of sleep and the stress load.
In July, my mom passed and left a massive hole in our lives. We got through the planning, but imagine having to invite people to attend a funeral and then having to turn people away from saying their final goodbyes because you had reached the capacity limits. We were fortunate, so many who lost loved ones over the past 2 years couldn’t be with them – but we got to be there with her and comfort her and we did not take that for granted.
Since July 2021 we’ve experienced all the firsts without her, her birthday, thanksgiving, Christmas and many other moments we would have celebrated together. It’s now March 2022, just over a year from when that nightmare started, and we have many more firsts yet to come without her. Some days, I’m not sure I will make it through another.
The struggle continues for me and everyday, I talk myself through what I need to do and still have days that hiding under my covers is my preferred way to face the day. Mentally, I am still working on healing and like many before me I pressure myself to “just get over it”, why can’t you “just move on”? When I judge myself so harshly it only pushes me deeper into this depression that I’m trying to get through each day. I still love myself, but some days I need to remember to forgive myself and allow myself the time to grieve and process the hurt. There is no timeline for this process and that’s ok, at least that’s what I keep reminding myself. As part of my healing journey I’m sharing my story; there is integrity in authenticity and integrity is part of the foundation of my business. I feel this blog is the first step in taking back my drive and passion for life and my business.
It’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to be mad and it’s ok to feel nothing. It’s ok to be in the place you are in today and remind yourself it’s today – and tomorrow is a fresh start. It could be different or it could be more of the same…either way it’s OK!