Monday, November 16, 2020

Before My Brain Breaks

I am in a mental space I've never been in before. 

For someone who's learned to manage pretty intrusive anxiety and depression over the last several decades, that says a lot. I don't take my mental health for granted. So when I felt like I was at my breaking point last week, I listened to myself. And when I say breaking point, I mean it literally. I felt like my brain was starting to crack. I felt like it was only a matter of time before I just... Broke.

I was processing slower, not comprehending as much. My head hurt. I was dizzy. I wasn't hungry. I was teary. I couldn't think straight. It felt like I couldn't get anything done at work. What I did get done wasn't that hard and took much longer than usual. I felt like my brain was slowly... Shutting... Down...

I don't want to get covid.
I've spent enough energy in my life on a chronic illness (infertility). I'd like to avoid another.

I don't want to spread covid.
I don't want to cause others' suffering, especially when I could've just stayed home. 

Hell, I don't even want to have an accident!
I can't need to go to the hospital because the hospitals are getting full!

The fact of the matter is they don't wear masks here. They say they do, but they don't. I sit in meetings all week and I am the only person wearing a mask. (They think it's fine if everyone is seated and not moving around. I do not share this belief.) My younger students do not wear them and I'm not allowed to ask them to wear one while with me. (Yes, I asked and, yes, I was told no.) My older students do not wear them properly (they're almost all under the nose) and a lot of teachers wear bandanas or neck gaiters (ineffective coverings) and pull everything down to talk. All the while, the number of cases in our county climbs. 

There was a community parade a couple of weeks ago, a potluck at work last week, and my boyfriend and I walked by a packed (standing room only) restaurant this weekend. I'm incredulous and I'm angry. How can people continue to live their lives like things are normal when I'm scared just to go to work? I asked my boyfriend, "Am I overreacting?" He immediately replied, "No. You're not overreacting."

I wrote about living in The Twilight Zone last June before I moved. I wrote about feeling gaslit two months ago. It's only getting worse. The Twilight Zone, the gaslighting, the virus. I know family and friends with travel plans. I see so many people around me living in denial of covid's existence, of how contagious it is, of how varied and potentially long-lasting its effects can be. This will not end well.

The bottom line is I don't feel safe at work. The risk of exposure is too high. The stress of being hypervigilant and monitoring my every interaction with people because I'm the only one consistently taking precautions has started to take its mental toll. I can't do it anymore.

I'm using a sick day to not go into work today. I feel like I'm doing something radical when all I want to do is stay safe. I don't know if I will get in trouble or what will happen. I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm hoping they move school off campus and fully online. I provide a valuable service to my students, but it's not like I'm saving lives here. In fact, I could actually be saving lives if I just stayed home. 

I'm angry I'm even being put in this position. It is their choice to not wear masks. It is my choice to not be around them. However, *their* choice is going to cost *me* money or maybe even my job.

In one way, it's a really hard decision about whether or not to go into work.
In another way, it's not hard at all.

I need to stay home to protect myself, to protect others, and to preserve my mental health. 

Going through infertility really drove home the fact that nobody is living my life except me. 

I can get another job. I can't get another life.


And now for a brain cleanser on a completely different topic...

I finished another quilt. I used precut strips for the quilt top (so easy) and a furry fabric called minky for the back. It has my favorite colors, it's soft and furry, and I love it.

Time to start a new one! 

Below is a picture of the new quilt and a couple of quotes I enjoy. 

Stay safe and take care! 💚💙💜

(Art Credit: The plate is by UK anarcho-craftivist artist Carrie Reichardt, 2018.)


  1. Sending big, safe, gentle hugs. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I really don't get people wearing masks under the nose. Or the meeting logic. Are any of these people science teachers? Good grief.

    Sadly, the people around you are the ones who are the victims of gaslighting - on a national scale. And they may pay the ultimate price for that. But not just them, and that's the horrible thing about this.

    In NZ, employers have to provide safe workplaces. Not the case, I am guessing, in the US? Can you talk to your principal about it - though I am guessing they are part of the problem? I wish I could tell you it will get easier, but this is going to get worse before it gets better. Knowing you are doing the right thing, insisting students around you wear their masks properly, and taking time for self-care is the best you can do. And know that outside your county is a world that supports you and thinks the way you do.

    1. Thank you! I feel vulnerable having this post published, but I also feel like I'm going crazy. I knew my blogging friends would remind me that I'm not crazy.

      Good point about who's really being gaslit here. It's so sad. It's devastating.

      As much as I want to say a lot of things to a lot of people at work, I think I am going to say as little as possible. I am not going to change anyone's perspective and it will take longer for a cultural/attitude change in the community regarding precautions than I am willing to wait. I will just continue to stay home to be safe.

      I think it will get worse before it gets better too. :( It's all so sad. And frustrating. And heartbreaking. It's so many different things.

      Thank you for your last sentence!!! <3

  2. Sending you the biggest virtual hug. That is so frustrating that your workplace isn't enforcing good masking policies and you are in this space. This: "I can get another job. I can't get another life." Absolutely. I feel lucky because my school district took a very conservative and stringent stance on making and we do 6 ft AND masking and if kids don't wear it, they go home and become virtual students. I've only had to ask kids to pull it over their nose a handful of times and they always comply immediately. These policies and the seriousness with which my administration and colleagues and the kids are taking it makes me feel safer even as our numbers as a county are exploding. I'm so sorry you are not afforded the same and made to feel like YOU'RE the ridiculous one. I do see people in the community doing stupid shit, not wearing masks, having indoor parties, ruining it for the rest of us. It makes me furious, too.

    Take care of yourself... I'm sorry you're in this hard place but I'm glad you are prioritizing your health and safety.

    1. Thank you for your support! I really appreciate it!! Thank you for sharing how it is at your workplace. I would feel a lot better if everyone wore effective masks properly at all times. I hate to talk negatively about where I am. I love my students (of course) and my boss and co-workers. I even talked to HR about some of my concerns several weeks ago and was well received. But the community overall has a different attitude than me. And I just can't ignore that I do not feel safe at work. This pandemic is awful and weird and making people make all kinds of difficult decisions.

  3. dear Phoenix,
    you are not overreacting. And I agree with you - this can't end well.
    In my country people are wearing mask, because they have to. And the schools have been closed for the last month and will remain closed for at least another month. All schools - all pupils & students get their classes via zoom.
    But this doesn't really help - since A LOT of people continue socializing inside their homes as nothing major & dangerous is going on right now.
    Take care.
    Stay safe.

    1. Thank you Klara! <3 I appreciate the validation.

      I'm glad people are wearing masks in Slovenia. I'm glad the schools are closed too. I don't think online school is the greatest, but it's not the worst. It's better than nothing and it is the safer option right now.

      I don't understand people's unwillingness to be bored. That's basically what is needed. People need to stay home and actually stay there. Not go anywhere, not have friends over. But my own family reminds me of how a lot of the world is living right now... Irresponsibly.

      I will continue to take care and stay safe. You too!!