So it’s been about a year since I “turned the corner” and really started to improve. I spent the lockdown and following time doing really well – dancing in the kitchen, doing crafts, going to the cabin and really enjoying it, etc. Being mindful, focusing on the moment, using my tools, and the after effects of the ECT and the ongoing meds all came together to make things work! I was happy, with so little anxiety and depression that by year’s end my therapist and I had to discuss what to focus on, as my immediate issues had resolved. I completed a PHQ-9 with a score of zero, which I hadn’t seen in years – and just a year ago was pegging with a maximum score.
Happy, well, healthy, and quite stable. Despite the world.
Let’s run down what’s happened in the last year..
- Global Pandemic
- Ending ECT (due partially to COVID)
- Ending DBT (due partially to COVID)The George Floyd event and subsequent uprising
- Presidential Election
- Attempted mugging/increased crime
- Coup attempt
- COVID-19 vaccines on the rise
- A return to normalcy
- A second career
So obviously, COVID-19 showed up and threw a wrench into everything – except for me. Getting locked down was an introvert’s dream. Even with a bunch of people in the same house, the ability to just work and not have to commute, do lunch, etc. really made it easier for me to focus on my mental health. I’ve always been fascinated by the 1917 Influenza pandemic, so this was actually an exciting time for me. And I really like working from home.
Ending ECT (due partially to COVID)
By the time of the lockdown, I was showing enough improvement that we were considering stopping ECT maintenance. Coincidentally, the ECT clinic was locked down and had to make changes to their process — so when they called to tell me that I let them know I was “good to go” and thanked them for all their help.
Ending DBT (due partially to COVID)
Again, DBT locked down with COVID, but after a few weeks they were going to go virtual with Zoom. Because I just wasn’t clicking with the group, and the stress of going was greater than the benefit I was getting out of it, I decided to hold off on rejoining. I would like to join a different group some time, but ideally that would be in person (post COVID) and closer to home. I need some urban peeps in my support groups, not just suburban folk.
The George Floyd event and subsequent uprising
We live a mile from where the initial George Floyd incident took place. As a result, we were front and center for a lot of the events of the city — the uprising, the riots, the curfew, everything. George Floyd square is close enough to walk to – and I find myself going there almost as if it’s a spiritual place, or a church of the mind. During the riots, the fires were close enough that it always smelled like smoke, and it was constant sirens and helicopters (some military). National Guard convoys motoring up Nicollet avenue is close and scary. Businesses were burned to the ground just a few short blocks away from us, and tensions were high. Most businesses in Minneapolis boarded windows, and there was evidence everywhere of what was happening.
Similar to the days following 9-11, things changed for a bit in the city. When the helicopters and sirens quieted down, the COVID lockdown and the city curfews made for some extremely quiet evenings and nights. I really enjoyed going out on the front step just before bed, and listening to the uncommon quiet of the city in the summer heat.
Throughout, I was following everything on the news, Unicorn Riot, reddit, etc. It was odd to hear explosions in the neighborhood and then hear them in a 15 second delay on CNN.
When the election hit, things were still iffy in the city, but the national issues were bigger. We weren’t sure if the voting locations were going to have protests or even attacks. All summer we’d been hearing about domestic terrorists, and even seen some during the riots. So going to vote was actually a little scary. But turned out to be fine.
After the riots, it felt like the police just disappeared. Muggings, carjackings, car theft, catalytic converter theft – they all went up quite a lot. On a walk in the neighborhood I joked that I would likely get mugged. And they tried. A car pulled up, a kid got out, put something in my back and told me not to move or he’d shoot. Long story short my Marine voice came out and in the end they went running off with looks of confusion and terror on their faces. I found it quite cathartic. But technically it was stressful, I suppose.
Watching Washington DC and the coup attempt we were all thinking about the previous summer and the issues we’d seen here. And it’s safe to say we were all worried about how big the coup and related attacks would get.
COVID-19 vaccines on the rise
Vaccines finally got created, approved, and started to get shared. Family members work in essential roles, and got their vaccines quite early in the process. I got mine finally, and I still think it was because my psychiatrist flagged me for it. But it could have been one of many reasons. But one day in MyChart my care team notified me to make an appointment. I have to admit that my inherent passive suicidality was disappointed to get the vaccine, as it meant I was less likely to get COVID and die. Which would really be the best for everyone, in my mind.
A return to normalcy
Some places started opening up, and everyone talked about “getting back to normal” but it’s really going slowly. Every time someone says “normal” I get a slight wave of panic, as the lockdown and pandemic has been so good for me, keeping me home and focused and able to work with some reduced stresses. But it means the family is getting out more, and the house has some quiet moments.
A second career
Finally, I’m working on a skillset that might lead to a retirement career, or a side gig that could maybe even turn into something real with a few years work. Less of a stress point and more of an exciting opportunity.