How’s your pandemic going? I’m afraid I lost my shit the other day. My weepy freak-out was precipitated by the refusal of one of my dogs to eat her dinner, but my reaction was all kinds of out of proportion to the trigger.
By way of background, the dinner-refuser was Rose, our rescued Yorkshire terrier. She had a really awful start to her life, and was rescued from a puppy mill when she was 5. Because of all those early traumas, she’s a pretty anxious girl, and in recent years has lost all of her teeth, most of her eyesight, and most of her hearing. She’s also got early-stage kidney disease, so you can imagine that I’m pretty protective of her.
So. On Sunday, I put down her dinner dish and she wasn’t remotely interested in it. I tried spooning it out for her, adding peanut butter to it, sprinkling it with the dust from her favorite treats, and nothing worked. I felt so panicked and desperate that I burst into tears and woefully demanded to know why she wouldn’t eat. (She declined to answer.) And then suddenly, I lived in the Realm of Despair. Everything was awful and hopeless and completely unmanageable. I was so completely filled with despair that all I could do was lie on the bed in a crumpled heap, sobbing like my heart was breaking. It was kind of epic, actually.
I lay there weeping my heart out for probably an hour, while poor Jolyon tried everything he could think of to comfort me. Meanwhile, of course, Rose quite happily ate her dinner and then some—I suspect she just didn’t like the kind of wet food I’d put on her dry to make it more appealing.
With a little time, a dog with a full belly, Jolyon’s ministrations, and a big fat helping of catharsis, I started to feel better. I also realized that I’d clearly been reacting to more than Rose’s disapproval of her meal. (That was in the mix, of course. As I said, I’m pretty protective of my little old lady.) Like most people in this crazy time, I’d been dealing with the enormous group trauma of a global pandemic with an unknown course, outcome, and impact. Humans aren’t built for ongoing stress, so when we go through it, as we are doing now, it leaves us with a whole host if issues. I’m noticing several of them in myself: lack of attention, disrupted sleep, and apparently the occasional bout of despair.
I learned something, too: it’s okay to have times I’m depressed or grumpy or too tired to think straight. It’s a freaking pandemic. When I start to feel like I just can’t anymore, I’m going to just not anymore, at least for that day. After my tearful hour (and after Rose ate a nice big dinner), I found I felt better. Fragile, but better. I think most of us are a bit fragile now, but that’s okay too.
I hope you’ll all join me in being a little extra kind to yourselves in the coming weeks. And if you’ve had a moment of losing your shit, too, please share your story!
And if you worried , here’s a picture of Rose, who is actually a pretty happy sort of person, tongue and all.