I grew up in the midwest, and in the midwest there are two things that are almost guarenteed: you have a garden, and you were on a baseball team for years and years as a kid (sometimes not consensually). Trust me, it’s a whole thing.
Anyway, I’m not here to talk about America’s dumbest pasttime, I’m here to talk about gardens. Our garden growing up always had a piece set aside for me and one for my brother, and we each got to grow whatever we wanted with it. I always grew pumpkins because apparently I was a basic bitch all the way back in the mid 90s… I’m a trendsetter.
Pumpkins, for those of you who don’t know, are one of the most dramatic things that you can grow. They grow from nonsense little nodules on the ground to monsterous things in what seems like a couple days. I’d swear sometimes I’d measure my bigger guy at night, then again in the morning and he’d have grown. Pumpkins are an awesome thing to grow if impatience is one of the defining traits of your personality.
I think my quarantine depression was a lot like a pumpkin… because the other thing about pumpkins is you really never know how big they’re going to grow. Sometimes they get giant, sometimes they don’t… but unlike other crops you really never know when it’s gonna stop until it does.
Which can sneak up on you.
I didn’t anticipate quarantine being particularly fun… I hate going more than an hour or two by myself, weeks and week is my personal hell. I wasn’t unaware of that going in… but I was committed to doing what was necessary for everyone’s benefit.
So when I found myself with a little pumpkin of depression I didn’t worry about it.
If we’re really leaning into this pumpkin analogy, at first I was bringing in groceries and just had this tiny pumpkin to also deal with. David would ask if I needed any help bringing it all in but I’d say no, I’m fine.
But my pumpkin kept growing when I wasn’t paying attention to it. By the time I realized what was going on my arms were WAY too full to be holding all the groceries AND ALSO this giant-ass pumpkin… but I was still on “take care of everyone” auto pilot so when David kept asking if I needed help carrying everything in I’d say no, I’m fine.
Until eventually it was like a goddamn Wizard of Oz scene but instead of boss bitch shoes sticking out from underneath a two bedroom ranch style, it was my dirty chucks sticking out from under a giant pumpkin of unmitigated loneliness and despair.
In the grocery/pumpkin analogy… all the groceries had been crushed and my (happily) feral children live on crackers and by eating peanutbutter straight out of the jar with a spoon.
(I’m kidding, Verona honestly might be a better cook than me and is VERY excited to have me out of the kitchen.)
I’ve watched other people go through mental health issues but have never dealt with it myself outside of a teensy tiny bit of postpartum shenanigans I had after Finn. When that happened one of the things I noticed was that all the colors in the world seemed muted and sad instead of vibrant and beautiful.
Now, I’m not ACTUALLY alone in quarantine… David and the kids are here too.
But any parent will tell you, you can love the shit out of your kids but hanging out with them still doesn’t necessarily make you feel less alone. And David is a (wonderful amazing lovable) introvert who is an essential employee, so throughout this whole thing he’s still working 40-55 hours a week.
I would live for that little bit of time during the day when I got to spend quality time with another adult… it became my sole fixation… I was like a junkie, but instead of crack I was over here smacking my arm, jonsing for eye contact and non-digital adult conversation.
For that little bit of time some colors would come back, and the feeling of unrelenting loneliness would back off… for a while.
Eventually though, I’d start remembering that this time was going to end.
Dude still had to work.
This can’t last.
Tomorrow is another day of soul crushing loneliness stretching out in front of you.
It feels unbelievably stupid to feel alone when you’re with someone amazing who thinks you’re the coolest thing since sliced bread. But these are strange times we live in.
After a few (too many) days in a row of a lot (way too much) crying I got in touch with a therapist again and that has been really helpful. She gave me some fancy diagnosis words that basically mean depression that will naturally go away when the shitty situation goes away… so once I can people all the time again I should start feeling more like my regular not-crying-all-day self.
She asked me to think about what I really WANT… like, once I can do whatever I need to feel better again, what would that look like if I could just do whatever.
I said I want to go to a packed bar (or restaurant or whatever… it’s not about the alcohol, it’s about the crowded environment where it’s not socially awkward to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know)… just elbow to elbow full of people. And I want to just be there, in the crowd of humans all day… day after day after day after day. The kids and David are welcome to come too as much as they want, I’m definitely not tired of them, I just (puts on Ariel wig) I wanna be where the people are.
And at night, when I get tired of sitting up at the bar elbow to elbow with all of those glorious strangers, I want to curl up underneath the bar and go to sleep to the gentle hum of noisy alcoholics.
So yeah… that’s what’s going on with me. I’m struggling, but I’ll be fine. And I know that this will all end and I’ll be my normal happy self again.
In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying quarantine more than I am.