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Angela Turner: PAGE Hanging on by a thread

Times-Tribune - 4/9/2020

Apr. 9--I'm not OK and I'm not alone.

According to a survey from the American Psychiatric Association conducted online March 18-19 with a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 US adults, 36 percent of Americans believe the coronavirus is having an impact on their mental health and 59 percent say it is having an impact on their everyday lives.

I'm raising my hand.

From worrying about finances, to how much hand sanitizer and Lysol I have, to the dreaded trips to the store, added to working from home, on top of the three loads of dishes, laundry and garbage that need done daily -- oh and don't forget about the sick dog -- it is definitely having an impact.

I'm extremely fortunate, I get it. But I'd lie in these words if I spit cheery promises and poems this week. It's not in me. Not even in Holy Week.

I left the house by 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. By the time I got to the end of my road I was in the middle of my second breakdown, as tears flooded down my pale, naked face.

Armed with sanitizer, I headed to the newsroom. I've been working from home for almost a month now, and Tuesday, in the middle of both mental chaos and a global pandemic, I needed the comfort and configuration of the ugly blue walls in the newsroom.

I crave structure, order, instruction and plans. My boss knows this. She is thoughtful and gives me more instruction in advanced noticed because she knows I'm a planner and I like knowing my agenda far ahead of the norm.

I am unique in that I study my planner and reference calendars often. Having grown up without much structure, as an adult I find great comfort in things that are thoughtful, solid, planned and organized.

I also enjoy multitasking. The thought of getting a lot of things done at one time is fascinating to me. And believe it or not, working from home has allowed me to do that. I can have a story sent in and a load of laundry done all before 8 a.m. At times I'm letting the dog out and conducting phone interviews at the same time. Some days I'm thriving on the productivity that's happening.

Other days aren't so productive. Other days are sad and hard and I can't tell you exactly why.

But inside this global pandemic, I'm living with an anxiety I can't describe. I am more irritable now than ever. My mind doesn't slow down.

Recently it was brought to my attention that I like to control things, all things. This is somewhat true. I like to know terms and agreements and plans so I can be prepared, all encompassed prepared.

I'm constantly washing my hands and reaching for the can of Lysol, which by the way, I'm down to my last can and it's almost empty. This isn't that out of the ordinary for me as I was already a fan of Lysol before COVID-19, its friend the flu connected us some time ago. I've been spraying the house over since October.

I am not afraid of this COVID-19. I am cautious and using common sense, but I'm struggling as my life has been flipped upside down and things are out of my control.

I've been more diligent now than ever in trying to find the good news to cover. But that doesn't help when the slightest thing can send me up an emotional roller coaster. Then suddenly it jolts me back down, leaving me with whiplash until the next ride begins.

On my drive Tuesday morning, something caught my eye.

It was creeping up on 60 degrees that morning. I passed a man walking down the street wearing several multiple layers of clothing. He was carrying three or four bags and a backpack. He is likely transient. I passed him on Wednesday too.

He was a reminder to suck it up and move on. To cry it out and move forward. To do what I needed to do and to get off the roller coaster when it ends.

This isn't fair and I don't want it, but it's what I've been dealt.

I can't pretend to have words of wisdom.

We're losing country music legends, we're losing our grandmothers and we're losing our minds.

I'm worried about my friends and family members who struggle with addiction.

I'm judgmental, I'm impatient and I've baked more cakes in four weeks than I have in four years. I've called on friends and I've called the preacher's wife. Both make me laugh and lift my spirits.

I pray often. My prayers are sloppy, short and to the point.

One day it went like this: (and I know because I typed it in the notes of my phone) Jesus come to us, Forgive us, We're complicated. Be with us, Hold us, Heal us, Help us, Amen.

Some days, that's all I've got. Some days, I'm just waiting to get off the roller coaster. I'm not OK and I'm not alone.


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