My parents divorced when I was 10, which was when my anxiety and depression first really appeared. Unable to control what was happening to my family, I controlled what I consumed. I progressed rapidly into a binge-eating disorder that stuck around until I finally found the right therapist, and even then it just began to manifest in different ways. (I also had undiagnosed ADHD, but that’s a story for a different time.)
A month ago, I moved across the country after losing my job in May to see what direction my life could take in a different state. Since arriving in Tennessee, I have been unable to stop organizing things. I rainbow sorted my books. I’ve purchased every bathroom and drawer organizer Target will deliver. I’m considering asking family for gift certificates to The Container Store for Christmas.
Last week, when I reorganized the top two shelves in a pantry, my housemate said “you’re really great at organizing,” and I responded with “it’s the only thing I can control.”
I’m a freelance writer and social media manager struggling to make ends meet. I’ve just moved to a state where our county leadership is keeping a mask mandate in place but the Governor of our state won’t put one in place (and his “Choose to live your life and choose to wear a mask” campaign is deeply frustrating). People all over this country have checked out of wearing masks and staying home because they don’t like doing it anymore.
Oh and there’s an election today. One that will alter the course of this country dramatically.
If I don’t organize, or I’m not reading, I start thinking about our world and this pandemic. I start thinking about how if things don’t change soon, I will never fall in love and I will never see one of my plays performed and I might catch a disease that either kills me or gives me any number of lasting side effects, including my number one fear, losing the way my brain functions.
I am not traditionally beautiful, nor do I have an amazing body, or some of the incredible talents my friends have. But I’m smart. I’m so fucking smart. I’ve always had that, and I am deeply afraid of getting Covid because I don’t want it to take that away from me. If I lose my intelligence, I lose everything.
That might just be my anxiety speaking, but that’s how it feels. So I organize. And I read. And I doom scroll through Twitter praying that we get out of this. My future is being controlled by people who refuse to care for themselves and others, and I’m angry about it.
I have dreams. I have plans. Every time someone insists on not wearing a mask because they “trust their own immune system” or because of “free speech,” they take that away from me. They’ve decided their life and their dreams are more important than my life or anyone else’s life. It’s exhausting.
I have long prided myself on being someone who can give good advice and good pep talks (even if I don’t listen to my own advice), but I’m out of advice on this one. I don’t know what to say. I know that no one deserved to die from this. I know that no one deserves to be hanging on to the remnants of a disease that we could have prevented the spread of. I know that no one deserves to worry about whether they’ll even have a life a year from now.
I am not yet hopeful. Maybe after today that will change, but right now I’m still scared. It’s okay if you are too. There might be a lot to be hopeful for, but there is also a lot to be scared of. It’s important to acknowledge that fear, and deal with it. It’s also important to take deep breaths.
I want us to see hope one day. I want us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, I guess I organize.