A few months ago, I woke up with a feeling of dread and deep sadness in my chest. My alarm had gone off at its usual time, 4:30 am, so I could have some alone time before my husband and the kids woke up. Even my alone time felt sad, and it’s usually the part of my day that energizes me the most. I cried on the couch as I drank my coffee and did my morning scroll, planning the day and answering emails. I couldn’t kick the feeling of dread in my body.
I did my morning workout, but the endorphins just didn’t help. I listened to my favorite song in the shower, but it didn’t make me want to sing. I simply made it through the motions of the morning. I made my way to work, got my temperature taken at the front desk and headed into my office. Later that morning, something happened that was a slight inconvenience to me and I felt white hot rage running through my veins. It was almost like my brain was on fire. I couldn’t see straight. And this was happening a lot. Almost daily. I was angry.
Was it the global pandemic? The civil unrest? The dumpster fire of an election year? The innocent people being killed in the streets?
It was all of that. Every. Single. Thing.
But it was also something else that the world seemed to be missing out on. I was a full-time working mom. With a full-time working husband. And soon we would need to figure out how to school our six-year-old kindergartener virtually while we both worked our 8-5 jobs. And, yes, we are very grateful to still have jobs right now. But thinking about it made me sweat and my heart beat faster. I became overwhelmed and panicked. But this panic looked different.
I sat at my desk in a catatonic state, with tunnel vision and a ringing in my ears. My chest felt like there was an elephant on it and I was trying not to sob.
“Crying at work is unprofessional.”
“You can’t leave right now, you have work to do.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t done any real work yet, you slacker.”
“You have to be at the office from 8-5. It’s too early to take a lunch break.”
I ended up bolting from my desk at 11 a.m., when I felt it was appropriate to leave, and had a panic attack on my living room floor. I have spent the last three months seeing a new primary care doctor, a therapist and a psychiatrist. My medicine has been changed three times. And it has been the most stressful three months of my life. I have blisters in my mouth and cysts in my armpits.
I’m not asking for a break. I’m not asking for sympathy. I am trying to use my voice to tell our business leaders and our government and those in power that are making the decisions, that we are struggling. And that struggle has created a historic rise in mental health problems and a rise in suicides. We are stressed, tired, struggling, anxious, lost, and some are suicidal. If that doesn’t make you realize we need your help, I don’t know what will.
So what do we need?
We need flexibility. We need to be allowed to be late. We need to be allowed to leave early. We need to be able to work the hours we need from home so we can help our children with their school work. We should be allowed to take a day off to try and figure it all out. We need help financially. We need you to treat us like you would expect to be treated. I know we are working for you and your bottom line, but you have to think about us. We are your employees, your constituents, your friends, your neighbors, the people passing you on the street. And we are tired. We are struggling. We are barely making it day to day. And some of us aren’t making it at all.
Until Next Time,