I remember bringing my newborn baby home from the hospital six years ago in the dead of winter. Almost immediately, I was plunged into a dark room filled to the brim with postpartum anxiety and depression. There was no way out. No windows. No key. The isolation and desolation were overwhelming. It was as if time had been put on pause in our house. My life seemed to be taking place on another planet — one I never thought I would visit. The daily routine of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation made me feel like a zombie.
I longed to travel back to my old abode, but it no longer existed.
That harrowing postpartum experience has always stayed with me. Six years later, flashbacks of that traumatic time visit me daily. I am reminded of it now as we all try our best to survive the strange and unexpected new world of COVID-19. Since our school's officially closed and my daughter has been home with us full-time, I realize that this place I inhabit is all too familiar.
Once again, I have become a mother forced into quarantine.
It can be super stressful to juggle work schedules with my husband, but parenting is definitely the hardest part of my day. Having an only child confined to a house with two parents who aren't always available to be playmates sucks.
It's a constant battle of wills, and I frequently watch myself crawling up the same four walls. My low-level anxiety, which usually just hums in the background of my life, is slowly drowning me. My casual and rare imbibing of alcohol has completely gone out the window. I have taken up drinking in the early evenings.
Remote learning has been a disaster for our family. The first two weeks were a novelty. My daughter enjoyed seeing her friends and the videos of their "News of the Day." But we didn't know then how long this pretending-to-be-educators
It all seemed sustainable, until suddenly, it wasn't.
When you're a mother with diagnoses of bipolar II, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a more severe form of PMS), the everyday obstacles that pop up with a bored and unmotivated kid are a lot more overwhelming. How can I support my child and remain patient in the midst of her meltdowns when I am staggering mentally myself, despite my newfound addiction to chamomile tea?
In the early days of social distancing and trying to put a positive spin on things, I too posted pictures of my daughter and me painting rocks with motivational messages. The colorful hopscotch game we spray-painted on our driveway. The cute sign we created for sanitation workers and taped on our compost bin. They were all worthwhile activities to teach my daughter how we could play our part in a small way. But as this quarantine has dragged on, the inclination to take walks and see the unique ways our neighbors are honoring our frontline workers has slowly dwindled.
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