The Advice We Need Right Now is From a Fish.

Right now we are living in very, um, trying times, to say the least. I am running low on toilet paper and faith in humanity as my local target still is out of stock on the essentials. I’m confined to my tiny college apartment with the car I share with my sisters a million miles back in Chicago. I have spent the past few days in self-quarantine after an actually pretty isolating spring break with three friends on the gulf. I’ve really had nothing to do but browse the Internet and eat and sleep. I have always joked about becoming a hermit (I can be very introverted at times), but this is not what I wanted.

I told myself I would be disciplined. That I’d wake up at the same time every morning and do yoga and eat right and work on homework and read a book and fuck, y’all, I’m not doing any of that. I gave myself a gold star yesterday for washing my hair for the first time in days. I’ve been lounging around in sweatpants and taking two naps a day and then going to bed and sleeping for a solid thirteen hours. Today was the first day I saw the sun, when I went to go take my three bags of garbage out to the compacter.

I feel lonelier than ever. I was feeling lonely without social distancing, but now I just feel such a disconnect from the world despite being on my phone every waking minute now. Every app I open, every site I visit has some message about this virus and either they’re selling a cure for the side effects like boredom, or they’re delivering more bad news. The only thing that has made me truly laugh in the past few days is when those trolls on Twitter convinced Katy Perry and Madonna that the quarantined Italians were singing their songs and not traditional folk songs. And then all these celebrities are posting videos saying to imagine we were poor or there was no Heaven or Hell… Well, thanks to the dip in the economy, my family will very likely be suffering financially again, like we did throughout my entire childhood. I don’t have to imagine it. It’ll be reality. The only thing getting me through this actual Hell is remembering that if I die from contracting this illness (it’s extremely likely I’m immunocompromised), at least I will be going somewhere good and I will get to see my grandmother and Mother Theresa and all those cool people, not to mention Jesus.

My plan originally was to stay at school despite all our classes being moved online for the rest of the semester. My father was abusive throughout my childhood and had the brilliant idea of going off his meds when I was at home on medical leave for two months  last semester. That was a nightmare, so when I came back to Alabama I felt on top of the world. I was in a safe living environment again reunited with my wonderful friends. I was able to block out what was happening in the rest of the world and just focus on getting what I needed to get done so that I could stay in a good place mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Something happened after my safe and fun Spring Break, when the bubble of relaxation just burst on the drive back to Tuscaloosa. I guess it was because I’d checked my email, and was getting all these ever-changing messages about what we were supposed to be doing. The panic had spread to the local Target, and my Little was forced to go home to Raleigh after the dorms shut down. My other friends were leaving town, my sisters were reunited back home, and I was there all alone in my tiny mind.

On Thursday or Friday afternoon, I think it might’ve been Friday, someone was shot at my complex. Naturally, this freaked my mother out as the front office was closing and with everything else that goes on there (again, another story), and she wanted me to come home.

Shit hit the ceiling fan after that. I remember just wrapping myself up in a burrito of blankets and staying still for hours. When I finally got up to make dinner, I ate a whole bag of chips on my salad and started panicking. Not about the violence, but about the Tostitos. My heart was pounding, pounding, pounding and my thoughts were racing like wild horses running through a thunderstorm on an open prairie. I could feel my mind spiraling into a funnel of wind and destruction. And I ran to the bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat and purged myself of that natural disaster until only bile would come up. The real tragedy was I had been clean for a year.

I’m not here to complain. I’m not here to cry for help. I’m not here to offer advice, either, as right now, I don’t know what to do. But if you are struggling right now in this time like I am, I am here to walk alongside you (Six feet apart though!) so neither you nor I will be alone. My friend from therapy’s OCD was in remission for three years until this virus happened. I relapsed on my eating disorder that I struggled with for seven fucking years and worked so hard to overcome. I’ve been reading articles that people suffering from addiction are falling off the wagon again. I’m so severely depressed, my anxiety has shut down my entire body, and my routine that was so vital to my self care is up in the air now.

My parents are having me drive with one of my best friends back home to Chicago. My dad promised me he’s going back on his meds, but those will take about a month to kick in. At least I will get to see my sisters.

I’m scared. I’m scared to go home and be with my family, but I’m scared what will happen if I continue to stay isolated. I’ve been trying to tap into my hobbies. I’ve been drawing, coloring, reading, writing, going on Pinterest, online browsing but not spending because I need to save my money for toilet paper when it comes back in stock. I’ve been calling my friends and my family and trying to reach out. I’ve been talking to my therapist. But it is taking every ounce of willpower I have to just keep getting out of bed.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this except to tell all of you out there who are also struggling that you’re not alone. I’m going to try to keep writing daily and hopefully posting that writing here just to hold myself accountable to it. We’ll call it “Hermit Time with Maddy” or something. I want to make my blog a place where we can support each other and connect so that we’re not so isolated. As famed philosopher Dory the fish says, “Just keep swimming” (Finding Nemo, 2003). Feel free to comment anything and everything and let’s “just keep swimming”* together 🙂

*OOOOOOO WE CAN CALL MY ESSAYS “SWIM LESSONS!!!!”

xx maddy

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