Last week was one of the longest, most excruciating weeks I have had the displeasure of experiencing period.
Like, all of the anxiety I’ve had during 2020 was jammed into the span of a week and heightened to levels that I haven’t felt in years.
All due to a very particular event that pretty much captured everyone’s attention and likewise had them refreshing endlessly whilst fueling their own worried states – Election 2020.
Jesus, give me strength.
Sunday and Monday were fine. Normal even.
Then Tuesday rolled along.
I remember the last Presidential election and what it did to me. How when states started falling to What’s His Face, I immediately had a massive panic/anxiety attack and fell apart. So, I thought I’d be wise and turn my phone off all day, making sure to hide it away in my brother’s room just to be safe.
Didn’t stop me from worrying, but I thought’d that would be fine. I’d manage. Sure, there was anxiety building up, but then I’d go to bed and wake up to some sort of result.
Wednesday – of course, no result. Because nothing can be easy in 2020.
After having some bizarre Election dreams and not sleeping well at all, I wake up to a big old mess. Nothing’s been called. Votes are still being counted. Joe Biden’s behind in several very important states. Another four years of What’s His Face.
Anxiety and stress levels immediately skyrocket. What fun.
Several things happen when I get stressed. One is that my sleep patterns go straight out the window. Two is that I can’t eat. I am not a stress eater. At all. My stomach just won’t let anything in. Of course, if I don’t eat, my stomach immediately goes, “Why haven’t you eaten anything?! Eat something now!” But then if I do get something down, it’s all “Why did you do that?!”
So I’m exhausted, not eating, and chain-worrying. I’m stuck in some weird suspended animation, just constantly refreshing, refreshing, REFRESHING. Not doing anything else – I don’t have enough bandwidth to do so. My attention span shrinks, only able to take in a few minutes at a time.
And I thought I was okay.
I honestly did. I thought I was managing things just fine. This was okay. Totally, totally okay.
Thursday – I am not okay.
I am so far from okay it’s not even funny. Exhaustion is catching up to me big time. I’m probably dehydrated at this point as well. Still can’t do anything else except hit that damn refresh button.
I should also mention that I was home this entire time. Didn’t have to go to work Tuesday through Thursday, which really would’ve been a big help in keeping me distracted. It seemed great weeks ago – until I got stuck in Election Purgatory.
And – a very BIG and – we had people working on the house, replacing the siding. Which turned out to be a noisy process. A very early, noisy process. So sleep ended early. And my psyche slowly cracked further under the constant hammering coming from every which way.
I do manage to make my way to my friend Suzy’s house, which ends up being a much needed respite from the noise/anxiety/screens/refreshing/everything. Honestly, I’m amazed that I make it there, considering how tired I am. But we talk. We sat in her basement room, and just hash it out. The first time that week that I say out loud to someone other than myself that I am not okay. That I am stuck deep in some anxiety hole.
That evening, I end up getting so overwhelmed that I break down into my Chinese food. I’m tired. I’m hurting. Why can’t I break out of this cycle? Why am I here in this pit? Why can’t they just call the stupid race already my GOD.
Friday. The workers are gone. The house looks nice and fresh. I get to wake up naturally. I get to go to work. I’m still a mess, but at least I’m functioning kind of. And things are starting to look up Electionwise.
Which is where more what ifs show up. What if there is 4 more years of What’s His Face? What if Pennsylvania doesn’t flip? What if, what if, what if.
And yet, for the first time in days, I’m hopeful. It’s just a spark, but it’s something.
Still can’t eat properly, by the by. And starting to feel a depressive front moving in. Just what I need at this time.
Glorious, glorious Saturday.
They start calling the Election. Biden’s in the lead – and he’s won.
I’ll get further into the story Wednesday but holy crap. Like, holiest of craps. What is happening.
What am I feeling? Relief. Disbelief. Shock. This isn’t real. But it is real.
And the anxiety fog starts to lift a bit.
I’m actually able to eat a full plate of dinner. I manage to sleep through the night. And Sunday, I can take a nap without struggle. It’s amazing.
So, here we are in this week. I’m still feeling the after effects, honestly. And I still need to be careful of what I’m checking on my phone because anxiety is a beast and I don’t want to set it off again.
But I’m so much better. Each day I feel more and more alive again. I’m drawing. I’ve started a new book. I’m turned on my Switch. All the coping mechanisms I should’ve been using all of last week, according to my therapist.
I’m glad to be out of suspended animation. I’m glad to be moving around and feeling human again.
And I’m feeling very, very good about the next four years. But again, that’s for Wednesday.
Really, I try to avoid to draw anything with wheels.
Had a brief moment of panic this past week when my car decided to not start one morning. Instantly thought this was gonna be Old Car all over again, with the added twist of “BUT I’M STILL TRYING TO PAY THIS CAR OFF HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME RAAAAGGGHHHH.”
Turned out, my car just needed to have a new battery. It’s nice to have a car where someone mechanically inclined can actually pinpoint what’s wrong instead of being stumped. Truly glorious.
We do indeed have a hole in our ceiling. My shower had a pinhole leak that was creating a really unsightly blob-thing on the kitchen ceiling. Now we’ve got a bright shiny new pipe, no leakage, and a interesting view of my bathroom’s plumbing.
So. Friday. I log on, ready to post. WordPress lets me know that there are a few things I should probably fix on my blog. And I’m like, “Okay, sure. I’ll get on that.”
One of them was updating to https. Now, I have the technological know-how of a squirrel, but after looking it up, I think, “Oh! Okay. I’ve got this. All I have to do is change one little thing here, and-”
I can’t log in. None of my posts can be clicked on. They all lead to some North Carolina plumbing service’s website.
So, I decided to handle this in a calm, mature fashion, and proceeded to promptly freak out.
My parents didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do. 5 years of work seemingly went straight down the tubes. I have all the pictures saved, but none of the writing, because what even is backing up?
And, of course, it had to happen on a Friday afternoon. With COVID-19 prancing around the country. Because IMPECCABLE TIMING.
I finally managed to gather enough of my senses to Google what the sweet hell what I’m supposed to do now. And I discovered a WordPress Support website. Thank GOD.
I get in touch with someone. I spill all the sweet gory details of what happened to my precious blog. And they get right to work.
Apparently, my directory databases got corrupted, which screwed up my ability to log in. Could they fix it? Yes they could.
I paid up the money (which was a lot), sent them what I could – and all I could do was wait. And panic. And stress. And wait. And hope I wasn’t being taken for a ride.
The next day, at 11 AM, I woke up from my post-breakfast nap, because clearly I slept well the night before, and saw an email.
I clicked over to my website and lo and behold, I Draw Walruses is alive.
And there was much rejoicing.
Even though I don’t get a lot of traffic, even though I get maybe 10 people tops reading this website – this is my baby. My diary. It’s seen a lot over the past five years. Post-grad unemployment. Getting hired as a page. Experiencing all sorts of fun adulting stuff. Getting promoted. Whatever the heck is going on now. And developing all sorts of fun characters – Lars, Willa, Eliza, Jeff the Reindeer, Cleo, and more.
And to lose that all – that would hurt. That would just drain me even more that this whole event did.
So, now, what do I do?
I think I know what I did wrong. BUT. I refuse to touch anything, do anything stupid at all, before I back everything up.
That is truly the lesson to be gained from all this. Don’t take anything for granted, and back up your work.
With all that’s going on right now, we need to be cognizant of not just our physical wellbeing, but our mental health as well.
Case in point: when COVID-19 first settled stateside, I could not stop googling the news about it. I’d just have to. Next thing I know, it’s two hour later and I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of news articles and opinion pieces. The result? My anxiety would spike hardcore, and I needed to get all my thoughts out there and just vent and vent and vent (mostly to my parents, who are indeed saints for dealing with me), my mind a non-stop roller coaster of awful. And it would always be right before I’d go to bed. The worst time to have my brain running a hundred miles per hour.
I’m not promoting ignorance. At all. It is important to stay informed. But this is not being informed. This is me racing through internet pages and internalizing everything awful, then spewing it back out.
The fact is, I need to step back. For me to stay in one piece, I need to keep myself from this horrible habit. I’ve been trying – a few slip-ups here and there, but for the most part, I think I’ve done okay. I’ve learned that I need to redirect myself or physically hold myself back. I don’t know if it’s some weird OCD thing or not – I have not been diagnosed by a professional, so I really don’t want to classify it as such. But I do need to breathe, and back away from the Google, if I want to have any chance of coming away from the COVID-19 pandemic mentally together.
If reading the news helps keep your anxiety in check, great. Go for it. But I know that I can’t right now. Because I won’t get anything from it. My anxiety will just suffer.
So I will step back. Breathe. Knit. Draw. Whatever.
I need someone to do this to me in real life, just to stop the almost obsessive need to check the weather over and over and over again. ‘Cause it’s not going to change in the 30 seconds since I looked at it.
I may or may not have gotten caught in this awful cycle for a good 30 minutes a couple nights back. I may or may not have also cried out of frustration. My brain is a strange and terrifying place.
I am well aware that I have a very small audience.
A handful of people reading this blog, a slightly bigger handful following me on Instagram – not a whole lotta eyeballs looking at my work.
So, one of the things that I do find myself fantasizing about is gaining that audience, having people follow me and seeing what I do. And maybe, if I got big enough, I could even try and make this a career. I mean, that was the dream when I was younger, right? Professional cartoonist.
However – and this is a very BIG however – there are moments where I pause and say, “Do I want that? I mean – really?”
Because people, in my honest opinion, are terrifying.
They whine if you don’t do this. They can rip you apart if they so feel like it. They complain, spread rumors, drag your name through the mud, try to get you “cancelled” – again, all terrifying.
There is this YouTuber that I enjoy, Kurtis Conner. Nice enough guy, I like his commentary. He had a friend who said something stupid, and suddenly he got dragged into it simply by association, being the bigger name. Another artist who just released a generally well recieved cartoon pilot is facing people digging up dirt from when she was a teenager – stuff that she had already apologized for and was, overall, generally irrelevant.
And don’t get me started on the Pokemon community as of late. That’s more than enough to make me want to hide under my covers forever.
So right now, I’m feeling stuck in this odd place – wanting to get my name out there, and scared of what would happen if I do. Fun stuff, all around.
I’m going to keep chugging along and drawing, of course. But, man. People. Exhausting.