I hoped I’d have more time to write during the COVID-19 “working from home situation.” Since I’ve cut out my commute, which has allowed me to stay up later, I wanted to use that extra time to work on my novel. Distraction is the death of creativity in my house…or my mind at least. But, the world spins madly on.
After working all day, it’s hard to want to be creative in the same space where I’ve worked. I’ve tried changing it up a bit. Sometimes I am in my recliner, sometimes I’m at my desk, and sometimes I go outside to work when the weather cooperates. That helps some for distractions from work, but I am both mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day.
My kids and I have abandoned their schedules for home school. They have one more day of AMI work for the year. We’re just trying to survive at this point. I swear second-grade math might be the death of me. I really hope I don’t have to teach third-grade math! I adore my children, but there are many reasons I’m not an elementary teacher—most of those involving my lack of patience. I’m really trying, but when you put a stubborn me with my stubborn daughter, emotions run high.
Both of my children have celebrated quarantine birthdays with their grandparents attending via FaceTime. I’m thankful for the technology to do that. My kids have barely left the house in two months, so I know they must be going stir-crazy. I’m going stir-crazy, and I’ve left the house several times for essentials, a doctor’s appointment, and a work obligation—all while donning my cloth mask.
I want things to be normal again, but I don’t know when or if that’s going to happen. If I’m scared, I know my children are too. I’ve tried to reassure them, but I don’t even know what to say anymore. My husband and I have assured them that we’re taking every precaution to stay healthy and to keep them healthy. “This whole virus sucks,” in the words of my 12-year-old son.
Despite all the uncertainty, I am trying to remain positive in every attempt to keep my depression and anxiety in check. I was doing better until COVID-19 hit, and even considering weaning off my anxiety meds. Obviously, that’s on hold now. I need the meds now because all the deep breathing and relaxation techniques in the world won’t help me now without something more to help my brain calm down.
When my own creativity needs to take a backseat so my mind can heal, I look to others. Literature, art, movies, and music give me a sense of calm that helps keep me going until I can be creative on my own again. I adore this song, “I Can Change,” by Lake Street Drive.
There’s a line, “I’m scared that I won’t get it right, but fear won’t rule my heart tonight,” that speaks to me so much I feel like I could have written those words myself—and maybe I have in a different phrase with the same meaning.
I used to keep a diary when I was a teen and young adult that helped me get my feelings down and out of my head. I can’t even read those old entries now without feeling sick to my stomach. So much pain is reflected in those pages because I was much more likely to write when in pain rather than when happy. In a way, my previous unhappiness and depression were creative fuel from which I created a lot of material. Whenever I feel myself slipping back into depression, I do whatever it takes to pull myself back out of that cave again because it’s scary as hell to be there now. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve lived through it already, and I don’t want to do it again because it hurts.
While under “quarantine” I’m doing my best to have self-care as much as possible. In doing so, I quit the official diet that I’d been on since right after Thanksgiving. I’ve tried 1200-calorie diets with exercise. I’ve tried cutting most carbs and adding supplements with the Metabolic Research Center. I lost about 4 pounds each time and plateaued. I am still exercising and trying to eat as healthy as possible, but I am no longer concerned about what the scale says as long as I feel healthy. While on the diets, I felt awful, and my body went into starvation mode.
You want some honesty? I am 5’1″ with a weight that varies between 144-150 pounds. For reference, I weighed 155 and 145 when I was full-term pregnant with Drew and Meredith (respectively). I have clothing in my closet that fits right now between the sizes of 6-14, so I’d say my standard size is 8-10 in women’s clothing, usually going larger for dresses due to my chest size, which is big for my frame. My BMI still puts me at overweight since I am short, but I am going to rely more on how my clothing fits and the fact that my bloodwork is normal.
BMI readings take no account of muscles or larger breasts on women, so screw it! I’m tired of feeling terrible while trying desperately to lose weight to change my BMI when it’s just not working out for me. Now, I’m not going to go crazy and start frying everything or eating fast food at every meal, but I am going to give myself a break. I’ll stick to my higher protein diet that makes me feel good, but for the love of carbs, I’m going to have a damn dark chocolate Hershey’s bar for a treat every now and then!
Enough about weight, since it has absolutely no bearing on someone’s value as a person. I’m trying to stay strong for my children as they vent about stupid COVID-19. They hate being cooped up, and I remind them that I hate it too. I’m also trying to remind them to count our blessings.
My husband and I are blessed to be able to perform all or most of our job duties from home, therefore, we have steady paychecks coming in. We were able to use some of the stimulus money we received to hire out landscaping for the front of our home—supporting a small business in the process. We’re getting to spend the whole summer together in our home in an extended stay-cation (sort-of, since Jonathan and I have to work). This will likely be the only summer we’ll spend so much time with our children. I think they might secretly enjoy the forced family movie and game nights we’ve been having.
In the meantime, I’m still plugging away on my fourth novel. I added about 1500 words last week and have high hopes to do some writing tomorrow afternoon since my workplace has a modified summer schedule now of half-day Fridays. We’ll see if I finish the draft this summer or not. Due to COVID-19, I’ll likely adjust my story timeline a bit, which was originally set in December 2019-June 2020. I’ll figure it out. That’s what’s great about the world of fiction.
-Brandi Easterling Collins
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