Honestly had to look back to figure out the last time I posted a blog and to remember what the topic was – the pandemic has created a bizarre timeline of history in my mind. Basically, when it comes to history, it was either ‘before the pandemic’ or it was ‘last week’. There really is no in between.
As it turns out, it has been 18 months since I typed out my thoughts, feelings, and bizarre ruminations and shared them with the world. And, eighteen months ago, I was evidently struggling with relevancy. While sometimes I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, I don’t need to re-read any of my words to remember that struggle. Just the word ‘relevancy’ brings it all back. Or rather re-surfaces many of those emotions along with many of those rhetorical questions.
If I were to depend solely on the words in my post to remind me of those feelings, I would think my existential questions and struggles revolved solely around my place in the world as an advocate.
But to trust those words alone would be to lean into a half truth.
I am struggling through just about every aspect of life.
Struggling through advocacy, parenthood, marriage, friendships, career, and generally just my place in the universe. I can’t remember if I struggled pre-pandemic, in fact, somedays, I feel as if those days prior to March 2020 are forever locked in a box right next to the box that holds all my ‘before cancer’ days.
Candidly, these days it feels like a crapshoot on what I should be fretting about and trying to fix.
So somedays I just cry.
I’d love to say that I cry, look up at the sky (or now out at the ocean), find my inner She-Ra and persevere, like I so boldly stated 18 months ago but, lots of times, I just cry, get frustrated with myself, and then cry some more. Am I depressed? Hell yes. Am I anxious? Hell yes. Do I feel alone? Sometimes.
Am I paralyzed with fear about tomorrow and wanting to end it all? Actually, no. Not even close.
COVID-19 took away my coping mechanisms. The pandemic has taken away the gym, conference hug fests, concerts, and leisure travel. Reactions to COVID-19 measures have created a wedge between me and some people that I love. I’d really like to blame all my tears, and everything I see wrong in the world, on the pandemic, in the same way I used to blame everything on Tamoxifen.
But it’s not just COVID-19.
It’s racism, it’s poverty, it’s climate change, it’s inequity, it’s suffering.
And it’s a societal norm that seems to pale in comparison to the issues above but feels like a gut-punch on the daily.
Societal norms say that in my 40s I am supposed to be smart, sassy, confident, ridiculously self-assured, and basically just nestle into my womanly bad-assery. But I’m not feeling like a bad-ass. I’m feeling like a new empty-nester, recent coastal transplant, and older graduate student who is struggling through the pandemic and yet another effed up reality known as perimenopause.
Pregnancy hormones were rough on me, and Tamoxifen was its own clusterf*ck but this perimenopause thing is simply a whole ‘nother level up of effed up chemical confusion. And… NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT. Like no one. Well, some of my girlfriends do when we’re hanging out together but… that’s right… minimal hanging out in the past two years.
Instead, I’m reading about how my late 40s are supposed to be filled with crazy confidence across all realms of life from bedroom to the board room while I’m actually sitting on Zoom calls and crying midday because who knows why.
The tears are likely due in part to sleep deprivation. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in over a week. And we are not talking about five hours versus eight hours of sleep. We are talking about waking every 80 – 100 minutes like “I’m on fire” and flip flopping around in bed for an hour before maybe getting another 80-100 minutes and starting the cycle again. I’ve switched rooms, leveraged the couch, tried melatonin and herbal tea. Nothing is working. The whole rigmarole feels a lot like the newborn breastfeeding night sweat era, but I don’t have the benefit of an oxytocin-high and baby snuggling to counteract my dead ass tired.
So… there you have it.
Still struggling 18 months later.
On my good days, it feels more like muddling and, for that, I am grateful.
I’ve no asks and I certainly have no answers. Just putting out a bit of reality to get it off my own chest. So thank you.
Thank you to the women who have commiserated with me and who have offered me helpful hints on ‘getting through the change’. Like a gazbillion other women who have had a hormone positive cancer, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not an option. I’ll stick with diet, exercise, and routine with the hope that eventually sleep will happen. If not, I’m totally going to dose myself with Tylenol PM and hope for six straight hours.
When I’m feeling generally good (which is NOT today) I remind myself that getting old is the gift that I hoped for after my diagnosis but, most days, I just lob questions to people who’ve been down this road before, shed some tears, and b*tch and complain about things. If I’ve learned anything in my life it is that you cannot use logic to address an emotional issue. Well, you can but you do so at your own peril.
Today, I’m imbibing no logic, just making myself feel relevant by hanging all my reality on the outside because I know, I am absolutely positive, that there is some other woman out there, feeling alone, a little sad and a lot frustrated in her perimenopausal, pandemic-complicated life.