by Olivia Brinker
I am an introvert. I love being at home. I love my bed. I love Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. At first, this stay-at-home order was a dream come true. My kids hadn’t started online schooling yet which meant I didn’t have to get up early and of course I didn’t have to get them dressed or pack a lunch. It rained for a while, but between their shows and playing together, they really only needed me to feed them. I know, I’m awful, but it was working. I was binge watching shows like you wouldn’t believe (I won’t lie, I still do) and laying in bed for hours with no shame. I have three kids aged 5, 4, and 2 so obviously it was not the most relaxing, but as long as I gave them snacks when they asked, they were happy. That was week one.
We are now starting week 6 with likely four or more weeks to go and I’m not even sure I can describe to you how dark this time has been. I have been struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety for years and honestly, I’m more afraid of how that is affecting me more than I am of getting this virus. My house has become a place of chaos and turmoil. My kids are doing fine, but I am most definitely not. They have each other. My husband is still working and has also taken on some side jobs, so a lot of my time is spent without adult interaction. This is so detrimental to someone with mental health issues like mine. I miss my parents. I miss my church family. I miss going out for Sunday lunch. I miss being able to give my kids to their grandparents. I am not okay. I need fellowship and encouragement in order to control my anxiety. I wish I could say that I have leaned on the Lord more during this time. I wish I could say that my prayer life is better than ever before. I wish I could say that my faith is winning the war against the devil right now. I can’t and that just fuels my anxiety and depression. I have never felt more alone.
Now that online schooling is in full swing, I am required to get up and help my kindergartener and preschooler get their school lessons done. I would be in bed if I didn’t and trust me, as soon as they are done, I am back in bed. I can’t function. I have no motivation and when my kids ask for things, I am likely to snap at them. My house is usually a disaster because my kids have free reign and I am not up to clean up after them. I feel so guilty. I should be using this time to have fun with them. I should be emotionally available to them so that they understand why they can’t go to grandma’s house or why they can’t go with me to the store or see their friends. I don’t even take them outside every time it is nice out. I know I should and I honestly want to, but I physically and mentally can’t.
If it wasn’t for phone calls from my mom and sisters, I don’t know that I would make it through this (without breaking this stay-at-home order and escaping to my mom’s or sister-in-law’s). When I look back at this time, I hope I see growth. I hope that, when this is over, I appreciate all that God has blessed me with. I hope this valley leads to a mountain top. So, pray for me and everyone else with mental illness. We need it. We need help, because we can’t do it on our own.
Addendum from Traci, Olivia’s mom: I realize that Olivia is not the only person suffering with loneliness, anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts during this time. We have to be intentional to stay in contact with those individuals. Make a phone call, text, video chat, or drop off a card or small encouraging gift to their front porch. If they don’t respond, keep bugging them. Don’t give up. Encourage them to go for a walk or sit outside. They need us more than ever and we have the privilege to be a part of their support system. In a unique season of isolation, we have the opportunity to be more involved in people’s lives than ever before.