Yesterday I had a really, really bad quarantine day. And I just kept thinking of all the things I “should” be doing: enjoying the sunshine, playing with my son, writing, reading, anything besides what I actually wanted to do, which was stare at a wall for 10 hours, dissociating and trying to ignore the voice in my head chanting “I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die.”
Usually, this would be a sign that my depression was back, but *luckily* I’m one of those people who experience lots of depressive symptoms for a few days right before my period (yay). It’s like being fully depressed again, except it only lasts a few days instead of months on end. This is nice because no one wants to be depressed for months, but it sucks because somehow my brain manages to pack in months worth of self-loathing, existential dread, and maladaptive thoughts about death in just a few days.
So that’s where I was at yesterday. Of course, being trapped in my house didn’t help. Pre-quarantine, I would deal with my period depression by making as many plans as possible to keep my mind occupied. Because this depression is short-lived, this distraction technique actually works. But of course…quarantine.
I found myself comparing myself to everyone else yesterday, certain they were all handling this way better, doing fun, quarantine projects like cross-stitching or baking, while I was struggling to make any kind of facial expression at my smiling son who just wanted to know I was paying attention. Of course, some part of me knows that plenty of people are struggling with quarantine just like me, but everything I see on Instagram and Tik Tok is all either jokey memes about feeling depressed, or tons of fun growth-oriented quarantine activities.
I don’t know, I just thought it might be nice to make a post describing both a good day in quarantine for me, and a bad day like yesterday. To show you guys that it’s okay if this quarantine experience isn’t really fun or awful, but mostly just deeply confusing? Because you keep going back and forth between doing okay and barely functioning? Anyone else?
A Good Day in Quarantine When You Have a Baby and Depression
8:30am – My son wakes up, I feed him a bottle while watching something soothing on Netflix
9am – I check up on emails, make coffee, empty the dishwasher, etc. while my son plays on his activity mat for a while
10am – I start getting some writing work done, usually while holding a somewhat fussy baby
10:30am – My son goes down for his nap and I grab a shower and a quick snack (usually something unhealthy, to be honest, like a PopTart or some leftover Easter candy)
11:15am – My son wakes up and we cuddle for a while, then he eats another bottle and maybe we do some rice cereal if he’s still hungry
12pm – My husband breaks for lunch and we both eat some sandwiches while watching YouTube videos for an hour, and he gets some snuggle time with our son
1pm – The baby goes back to playing on his mat or sitting in his Bumbo seat while I go back to writing
2pm – My son goes down for his second nap and I take advantage of the break to do something mindless, like scroll through social media. On really good days, I might use this time to write more, do dishes, or vacuum or something
2:30pm – My son wakes up and I feed him another bottle and hold him while I continue to get some writing done
3:30pm – My son starts getting fussy because he needs some time with attention dedicated specifically to him, so we read some books, sing some songs, or do mirror play time
4pm – Content for the time being, my son plays on his mat some more and I finish up my writing for the day
4:30pm – I put my son in his stroller and we go for an hour-long walk
5:30pm – I feed my son another bottle and we veg, watching some Netflix together while my husband showers
6:30pm – My husband and son play while I make (or sometimes order) dinner
7:30pm – Dinner and Netflix
8:30pm – My husband gets our son all dressed for bed, feeds him his last bottle, and puts him to bed while I work on this blog, poetry, reading, or dishes
10pm – I have a semi-regular mental breakdown about how awful the world is right now. I cry a bit, my husband comforts me, and we watch some Netflix
11:30pm – We head to bed
A Bad Day in Quarantine When You Have a Baby and Depression
This is literally what I did yesterday.
8:30am – My son wakes up, I make him a bottle, feed him, and put him back in his crib, praying he will go back to sleep or at least entertain himself for a little bit longer. I crawl back into bed and stare at the wall
9am – My son gets well and truly fed up with being left alone, so I go get him and lay him on his activity mat while I sit in the nearby recliner and scroll mindlessly through social media while eating candy for breakfast
10:30am – I put my son in his swing, hoping he’ll take his nap so I can take a nap on the recliner too
11am – My son wakes me up, wanting to be held, so I hold him and scroll through Tik Tok
12pm – Bottle, Netflix, and lunch for me and my husband
1pm – I spend the next three hours just moving my son from his mat to his Bumbo to his swing to my lap to try and keep him relatively happy/asleep while I scroll through my phone to quiet the “I’m gonna die” chanting.
4pm – I feel bad for ignoring my son so much, so we make an excursion outside to the back patio…where I feed him his bottle then continue to ignore him in favor or mind-numbing bullshit on my phone, but at least he has trees and sky to look at now
6pm – My mom has a bizarre knack for inviting me to do things on bad depression days before she’s even talked to me to know I’m having a bad day, and yesterday she did it again. Since the stay-at-home order has been eased up slightly, I thought it would be okay to go on a little picnic with just my parents, my son, and me. It lifted my mood tremendously.
8:30pm – We get back home, my husband gets our son all ready for bed, and I quickly do some last-minute freelance work that’s due in the morning
10pm – I get into bed, meaning to sleep because depression makes me exhausted, but instead scroll through Tik Tok some more because of course
12pm – Bed
Look, was I happy with how things went yesterday? Of course not. I felt so guilty about how little I was paying attention to my son, I felt exhausted from fighting/ignoring all the depressive thoughts running through my brain, and I just wanted the day to be over. But I made things so much worse for myself by telling myself other people didn’t have bad days like this. Other people are handling quarantine just fine, or if they aren’t, they’re coping in fun ways, like dyeing their hair or baking disastrous loaves of bread.
But now that I’m feeling a bit better today, I think that’s probably a lie that my depression told me. I think a lot of us are really struggling right now, and not in a funny, romanticized, meme-worthy way. We’re ignoring our loved ones, we’re failing to take care of ourselves, we’re doing whatever we can to numb the feelings of despair and hopelessness that come knocking on our doors every damn day.
And as much as that sucks, it’s okay. Like, it’s not fun, but literally everyone is going through it, and you aren’t weird or bad or wrong for however you deal with it. Even if your coping mechanisms aren’t the healthiest or most Instagram-worthy, they are helping you survive this truly extraordinary and horrible time, and that’s what coping mechanisms are meant to do. Survival mode isn’t a fun mode for our brains to be in, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Like during a global pandemic.
Basically, I just wanted to make this post to say, however you’re getting through this time is okay. And you aren’t alone in your bad days. I’m right there with you. Feel free to reach out if you need some support right now, I totally get it.