Mask Anxiety is Still Real…Let’s Continue to Talk About It

A handful of days ago, I was sitting in a small clinic in my neighborhood waiting for a TB test. I was dutifully wearing my mask, and I was hyperventilating. The young woman assigned to give me my test was casually making small talk with me, waiting for me to calm down. She was being so patient.

“Why don’t you take your mask off for a second?” She asked.

“No, no, no,” I replied through tears. “I don’t feel comfortable with that. I don’t want to risk spreading anything. Or getting anything.”

She continued to wait. She asked why I needed a TB test (I’m a teacher who works in school–we’re virtual now, though I don’t know how the heck I’m going to go into a school with this mask issue). I told her I was an elementary education graduate student at a DC university. “Oh, I’d like to go there to get a master’s in public health!”

Her small talk really did help. I was eventually calm enough for her to take the test, and I was out the door in a matter of minutes, now with a snot-filled, soggy mask (do you know how gross it is to cry in a mask? If you haven’t had the joy of experiencing it, it’s gross). Yet, I felt embarrassed and shameful. Despite the patience the young woman showed me, I don’t consider it my finest moment that she had to wait for my body to calm down before she could administer a simple medical test due to my mask issues in the midst of this global pandemic.

Continue reading “Mask Anxiety is Still Real…Let’s Continue to Talk About It”

Why I Started Wearing a Bra: A COVID-19 Tale

It’s day 25 on the alien planet. I counted. 25 days since DC Public Schools announced their temporary closure. 25 Days since I stopped living in denial about the reality of COVID-19. As long as I had work to get up and go to everyday, I could keep telling myself that my world was still normal. Sure, COVID had put China on lock down over a month prior–as an online ESL teacher, I felt I was more aware of this than others, given that I was seeing first hand how the lock down was affecting my own students during each of our classes together. Sure, COVID was making its presence known on the West Coast of the United States, particularly in Washington State. Sure, there were a few confirmed cases of in DC and the surrounding area…but I was still getting up and going to work and going about my daily life as usual, and that made my life feel normal, unaffected by this illness that was ravaging the lives of so many. There were a few signs of concern here and there–the Sunday prior (my birthday of all days), I was refused a for-here cup at a coffee shop; due to concerns about the virus, the coffee shop in question was only giving its customers disposable cups. It had become more common place to see friends and acquaintances and hear, “Are you good to hug?” before embracing. The reminder to wash hands and be more vigilant about cleanliness was everywhere–on the Metro, at work, on the internet. Yet, until DC schools announced their closure on March 13, I was still happily living in denial.

Denial is easier than acceptance, of course. It’s why it’s so challenging for teachers to convince some parents that their child actually has a problem, whether it be a behavioral issue or a learning disorder. I thought I was too smart for denial, too aware of myself and the world around me. Yet, here I was, knee deep into my own denial about COVID.

The past few weeks, then, have been a journey towards acceptance. Accepting where I am in life–with COVID and with other aspects of myself as well. It’s been realizing that sometimes I focus so damn much on the positive that I fail to see the reality sitting right in front of me. It’s been learning to understand that as beneficial as positivity is in life–I’m an optimist for a reason, after all–sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and take stock of the whole picture. To pay attention to the details, the facts spelling out the nature of our reality. I’ve learned in the past few weeks that positivity should be balanced and well-rounded. A healthy positivity comes from embracing and acknowledging the negative and still choosing to find the light in the world.

Continue reading “Why I Started Wearing a Bra: A COVID-19 Tale”

When You Simultaneously Yearn for and Struggle With Change (Spoiler: This is Me)

Once upon a time in a far away land (also known as my college town on the Minnesota prairie), I sat in a psychiatrists office–anxious, nervous, and really, really scared. For the past few months, my life had been turned upside down. Since January, I had been experiencing severe anxiety that often times bordered on depression on a daily basis. It was now late March and there seemed to be no end in sight. My mind was going to dark places that I had never experienced before and I was terrified. My life had never before been clouded with so much darkness and I had no idea how to cope.

Furthermore, I had no idea why this was happening. At this time, I was in the middle of my third year of college and I knew that, in a year and half, I’d be graduating. I was, admittedly, quite nervous about my unknown, post-college future. I had also come out of an extremely unhealthy relationship a few months prior. That said, I couldn’t understand how my previous relationship or my nerves about the future landed me in such a dark place, questioning my very existence daily, hourly, every single minute of every single day.

So, there I found myself in the psychiatrists office. Looking for help. Looking for answers. I had been in counseling at my university all semester and though it was helping, I wanted something more. I had tried anti-anxiety medication and within a day of taking the first pill, I became so severely depressed that my mind and body felt numb to the world. I could barely function and I was terrified. I went off the medication as quickly as I started it; I needed something more and medication wasn’t my answer.

So, I found myself in this psychiatrists office where, after an hour-long appointment of questions and discussion, I walked out with a diagnosis–though I was told I would need more than one Continue reading “When You Simultaneously Yearn for and Struggle With Change (Spoiler: This is Me)”

#WeekendCoffeeShare–Thailand, the First Few Days Edition

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about how happy I am to be here sharing some coffee with you today.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about how exhausting this week has been. After my last day at work on Sunday (which went really well, even though it was very bittersweet), I spent Monday and Tuesday finishing up  some last minute shopping and packing. Then. Wednesday.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about my exhausting travel experience that began Wednesday at 12:11 Central Standard Time, when my flight from Minneapolis to Chicago took off. From Chicago, I flew to Hong Kong–where I had an exhausting 11 hour layover. I barely slept at all and I wrote this rather unenthused post. Then. Finally, I boarded the plane for Continue reading “#WeekendCoffeeShare–Thailand, the First Few Days Edition”

2.5 Weeks of Anxiety? Not on My Watch!

First she slept; and then she read…

Got out of bed at noon. Started to read. Haven’t done much else today.

I could get used to this winter break life.

If only my anxiety wasn’t getting in the way…

I’m the type of person that dreams of having free time like no other; when it finally happens, with my mind all the sudden free from responsibility, the anxiety I’ve Continue reading “2.5 Weeks of Anxiety? Not on My Watch!”

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self

Late last night, I was looking through my computer and found some old Word documents that hadn’t been looked at in ages. In particular,  I took a look at a makeshift journal I had created during my freshman year of college, since I had left my paper journal at home and was looking for a way to vent about my feelings in the pre-blogging stage of my life. I was astounded to read some of the things I had written in this journal…I sounded so lonely and dejected. Looking back, I am well aware of the fact that I wasn’t at my happiest during this time, however reading the things my 18 and 19 year old self had to say was a bit of punch to the gut…I couldn’t believe this is the life I was living. I’ve grown so much in the past four years, and for that I am incredibly thankful. I hardly recognize the girl I was when I started at Morris and that is most definitely a good thing. However, I think it’s worth looking back to see how far I’ve come. After all, that is in the true spirit of the purpose I had in creating this blog.

After reading a particularly raw entry from January 2012 where I simply stated how lonely I was, I decided to give my 18 year old self a pep talk. The below letter is the result:

Dear 18 year old Britta,

You’re going through a bit of a rough time here. You were so excited to go to college and now you’re there. You’re halfway through your freshman year, which is crazy (but believe me, you’ll think it’s even crazier when senior year rolls around). You finally have a boyfriend (isn’t that what you’ve been dreaming of your whole life?) and you’ve met a lot of fun people at Morris. Despite all that, you’re hurting. You feel that you shouldn’t be, given your circumstances, but you are and you know it. You know you’re an introvert and you know that you have trouble connecting with people because of that, but it just sucks that these people you met at the beginning of the year and who you were so excited about getting to know, aren’t connecting with you in the way Continue reading “A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self”