One of Them Years

What a shitty year its been.

(By the way, I can now swear in my blog posts because Twitter said I could, so there!)

I bet you’re feeling pretty exhausted about this pandemic right about now, huh? Yeah, I’m right there with ya. I’ve felt really down the past two and half months, even though vaccines are starting to get injected into everyone’s arms.

It feels like everyone is pissed off about something these days, especially online. It was really started to get to me in February, so I took a break from social media just to distance myself from all the frustration and anger. While it helped to get away, as soon as I came back it just made me upset all over again — but I cannot avoid social media forever. Even though it can feel very toxic at times, it’s kinda necessary to help us stay connected to assist in filling our social needs while physically distanced.

But social media is also a reminder that COVID-19 cases are on the rise, that people are still flouting the rules put in place to keep us safe, and that a lot of us are still a ways away from getting that sweet, sweet shot in the arm.

The lack of normalcy in life right now is downright depressing, even for a homebody like yours truly. This past year, I feel like I wasn’t really living, just existing. There was no big vacation trip planned to look forward to, no Christmas concerts to prepare for, or a big turkey dinner with my extended family to attend.

Hell, the last time I got to hug my brother was December 25, 2019, just before we left his home after spending Christmas together with him and my sister-in-law. That thought alone makes me incredibly sad.

So why am I bringing this all up?

Because we need to be open and honest with each other about how the pandemic is affecting our mental health. We are pissed off about everything because we have hit our breaking point, and we need others to acknowledge it as well so we can help each other get through the final stretch.

People have told me that they appreciate how open and honest I am with my personal struggles (mostly on Facebook where I feel most comfortable sharing them), and they tell me how much it has helped them deal with their own struggles. I want start doing the same here and on Twitter. It makes me feel like I am doing some good in this world when something I have said or done makes others feel better about themselves.

Recently, Twitter has become more toxic than usual to the point where some accounts I follow have gone dark to avoid abusive users that just cannot leave them alone. I expressed how I wished there was something I could do, and I received the following suggestions:

  • unfollow, block, and mute the accounts that are contributing to the negativity
  • be the positivity that you want to see
  • don’t feed the trolls (always good advice)
  • look for cute or funny photos of Corgis (or, in my case, guinea pigs)
  • surround yourself with positive and supportive influences

And, when all else fails, I just crank up some music and tune everything else out for a while.

Currently, blasting Saint Cecilia by the Foo Fighters is working for me. But you do you.

— Jenn

What keeps you going?

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I wanted to do one of those “What are you thankful for?” posts. But, in light of recent world events, I want to pose a different question.

It feels like the state of our world has gone downhill in the last few years. Many factors contributed to our current state, and we are hearing more and more about violent conflict, terrorism, and tragedy. Events like these have been happening throughout history, but with advances in technology, they are presented to us more readily, faster, and in greater detail.

Recently, I have felt an overwhelming heaviness due to the negativity going on in the world. While being aware of what’s going on in the world is a good thing, being obsessed and consumed by it’s negativity is not. Thus, I have decided to focus my attention on my immediate surroundings, family, and friends. I know I cannot shut out the world completely, so I’ve been turning to things that have helped me in the past when I’ve needed to get through tough times.

A night out with friends
I admit it — I’m not a social butterfly by any means, but I have been getting better! I still don’t initiate plans, but thankfully I have friends that are always ready to extend an invitation out for supper or a fun activity so I don’t have to. Having a drink and wisecracking with a group of friends is one of my favourite things to do!

The promise of a good meal
If dinner plans are at one of my favourite restaurants, or it’s Christmas dinner at my folks’ place, I’m instantly put into a good mood. Take for instance this past Saturday. We had family photos scheduled before we were to meet up with my immediate family for dinner at Firestone. About 45 minutes into the photo session, my daughter was getting increasingly moody and uncooperative with being directed this way and that for poses. I got through it because I knew there was a spiced rum and Coke and pumpkin cheesecake waiting for me on the other side!

Vacation plans
There is nothing like getting out of Dodge every now and then. I love this city, but getting out and taking in different scenery is quite liberating. If we’re heading somewhere far, I enjoy researching and planning the sights we’ll visit and places to eat — and sometimes we just wing it when we get there.

Music
Throughout my life, music has been the main thing I would turn to if I was feeling angry, upset, or depressed. It really does soothe my soul. If I find a song that really makes me feel good, I put it on repeat until I can’t stand it anymore. I remember one day hearing Maps by Maroon 5 and enjoying how uplifted it made me feel. I ended up playing it over and over so much that I took my earbuds with me to bed so I could fall asleep listening to it. Currently, the song that is getting me through all the negativity in the world is Everything is Alright by The Glorious Sons, particularly the lyrics, “Everything is alright, if only for the night. I forgot what it feels like.” It reminds me of nights when I’m out with friends just goofing around and having a good time.

What gets you through the tough times?