These times, am I right? If you’d asked me five years ago, I couldn’t have imagined the person I am today, let alone that this is what my daily life would look like. That’s a difficult thing for just about anyone, let alone overplanners like me.
I’ve always been someone who is pretty even-tempered. Most of my friends have never seen me angry, and I’m often the cheerful one. My partner and I don’t have many areas where friction is likely to occur, and on the off chance that some does, we have systems in our D/s that are designed to handle them.
It’s a good life.
I set this up not to brag, but to make it clear that my struggles with mental health issues since March have been unexpected and completely new territory for us as partners, and for us in the larger framework of our poly sphere. This isn’t to say that I haven’t had issues in my life which needed addressing, but anxiety, depression and other spectres which can be treated chemically were virtual unknowns.
The pandemic has been a learning experience for me, for us, in so many ways. I have the ability to work remotely. It limits my income and my hours, but I made that transition mid-March, shortly after spring break, when my partner also made the transition. We went from seeing one another a few hours every day to sharing office space every single day. That feels as though it requires emphasis. Every. Single. Day.
I’ve read articles that say part of our (as a society) difficulties in relationships are partly because of high stress levels which make people more agitated and partly because when we never leave one another, we can’t miss each other. We don’t have those times to reminisce about the good qualities our partners have, just the constant annoyances.
I’ve been lucky in that area. My nesting partner has few qualities I find obnoxious, so my main struggles have been with fear. I fear the unknown, I fear him contracting the virus and dying, I fear death, and I am afraid of what tomorrow will look like.
In the beginning, that made getting out of bed difficult. I found myself trying to sleep more, or burying my head in a mindless phone game to avoid having to think too much, since thinking always led back to the inevitable unknown. It was a pretty vicious cycle. I devoured news articles since for me, knowlege tends to help me feel more in-control. My partner saw that I was not okay. He began limiting my news intake by making me take time off from those things, hoping to help me find a more even keel. I was having small anxiety attacks when I grocery shopped, so he began finding delivery options that limited my interactions outside of the house. His other partner was isolating for weeks before coming to see him to make sure she wasn’t bringing deadly germs into the house. iMy anxiety levels were off the charts and I had no idea what to do. He saw that I was less productive, but it can be difficult enough to admit to ourselves when we’re not fine, let alone finding the words to admit it to someone else.
It wasn’t until the dam broke that I reached out for help. I had made it through a month and a half of the stormy seas of heightened anxiety when we learned that my daughter would have to return to work in a job which required her to come into physical contact with other people. I started crying and I couldn’t stop, and finally called my general practitioner seeking some kind of medicinal intervention. He prescribed a stopgap, and I finally had to sit down with my partner and try to put my feelings into words.
We moved out that weekend, into a living situation which better lent itself to isolating. We collected the vulnerable members of our family and shored up against outsiders. We left my daughter in our house, and I only had to take the anxiety meds when I left the house to collect groceries. We waited for any word that masks were effective, finally running across a test case of live exposure with the potential for superspread, only to have it bumped from the news. We searched for weeks for more information, relieved beyond measure when it came. It was finally safe to return home.
Going home didn’t mean my anxiety was gone. It meant my partner had to keep an eye on me for signs that I might need to medicate. I explored other possibilities, such as counseling, but talking about my anxieties only served to exacerbate them.
My partner began scheduling time for us in a friend’s pool. It was the most human interaction outside of one another that we’d had for months. We’d go swim, and it was like the stress and anxiety melted away, giving us back our humanity for just a little while. It was like lancing a wound – the poison seeped out. It wasn’t healed, but it improved dramatically.
We’ve had to find ways to steal pieces of “normal.” We’ve found that being able to do so safely has been hugely important to my mental health. As it got cold enough that the pool was less attractive, we moved to the occasional indoor game night with those friends, who were also isolating. We added two other friends to our QuaranTeam, our Perv Pod, and we made arrangements to attend our local dungeon together. The space seemed awfully empty, but before too long, the delicious sounds of four bottoms screeching at non-regular intervals and the cracks of whips and sounds of other impact filled the space in ways our physical presence could not.
Our vacation was cancelled, unsurprisingly. So we made plans with that same group to rent a house on the water down south, drove in a caravan, stopped for groceries, and spent a few days taking turns with cooking, playing board games, and fishing off of the back deck of the house. We are finding ways to regain our joy.
I still have to take my anxiety meds. My Dominant makes sure to keep track of how often I need them, and if it starts becoming more frequent, to check on my mental state more regularly. He’s relaxed some rules for the duration of this – I’m allowed more stuffies in the bed as long as the pile stays on my side, and he let me get a new wardrobe of super fluffy pajama pants to work in.
I still don’t know what tomorrow will look like. I try not to think too hard about that. We’re tentatively planning Thanksgiving with our Germ Pod. Even though I cried when I realized the rest of my family wouldn’t be able to join us, it’s better than it could be, and better than it was back in early June.
I know it can be hard to admit it, but it is so important to ccommunicate mental health challenges to partners. There are so many resources out there, help is available. It just takes sliding one foot forward for that very first step. ‘
Christmas bunny has been exploring kink since she was legal to do so. Her serious writing started in college, where she accidently got some of her papers published in educational journals. She has recently expanded her writing to include her kink journey. She began writing in the physical realm, but shed some of her inhibitions and began sharing those entries with others. She now keeps an active blog of her personal growth and her relationship with her Master / Daddy Dominant and writes helpful educational posts on a variety of subjects.