care and feeding of your pandemic self…

Before I get too far into this post about self care while on my annual 2 week vacation in March I feel compelled to warn you that down there below the first two gifs is a gif of a movie scene that gave me a lifetime of nightmares… The melting nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I mean I’m glad he melted. He was an awful person. Well character. Based on a lot of really truly vile people. But I swear my parents letting me watch that scene so young is responsible for about 3% of my childhood trauma. Which isn’t much but… wow do I remember it. So… just know that that face melting really holds up and it comes into play down below.

Where was I? Oh. I stopped taking care of myself during the pandemic. I mean I’ve managed to keep myself alive. But I’m just kind of gross lately. Like…

By the time I’d been on vacation for less than 24 hours and I was already doing a better job taking care of myself then I have all year. I realize it’s only the beginning of March but still. Two full months is a long time to let yourself go.

Don’t get me wrong. I do something to take care of myself and clean myself up every day. Something. Like I brush my teeth. I do that every day. At least I think I do. Let’s just pretend that I am almost quite certain that I brush my teeth at least once a day and sometimes twice. And some days I brush my hair. But not all of them.

Days. I always brush all of the hairs.

I shower some days. And I moisturize my face like, I don’t know, three times a week? I know I floss at least once a week because I’m scared of my dentist. But just scared enough of my dentist to floss at least once a week. Not scared enough to do that every day.

I mean, it’s not like he’s Steve Martin or something.

I put on this special hydrating lip treatment every single night. Like every night. Sometimes I apply a second layer because I’m one of those people who needs lip balm all the time and this stuff soaking into my lips and hydrating them at night has significantly reduced the number of times I feel compelled to apply lip balm during the day.

It’s for efficiency, really.

I don’t even bother with the hair dye anymore. That’s one part lazy two parts “What if I can grow a wicked gray streak?” But my brows? I dye those like every three weeks or so just so I won’t have to stare at their strange blondness in the mirror and feel compelled to put makeup on.

What other things do people do to take care of themselves? Exfoliate? I do that when my face starts to look like it’s detaching from itself. Personal grooming, I’m not going to get into that with you. But I cut my nails when one breaks and becomes ragged and snaggy but I only do it to keep myself from gnawing it off. I cut my toenails when they start to snag my socks or the sheets.

This one time… I used one of those crazy skin shedding foot baggie treatments. But it was because I hadn’t had a pedicure in 10 months and I wasn’t sure how much of my foot was live healthy Cami tissue and how much was a gross mass of skin that had died but didn’t know it was dead so it was still clinging hopefully trying to make it just one more day.

This may be one of the grossest things I’ve ever written. I’m so sorry you’ve read it. I’ll get to the point.

I used to do all of these things on a regular basis. Like super regular. I used to be clean and polished and shaved and painted and had a spring in my step. I bathed every day even though I worked from home. I had a manicure and pedicure every 6 weeks. Actually I had a manicure probably far more frequently than that. Especially when I was traveling a lot. I mean, the place is literally just up the block. I’m saying I made the time to care for myself.

Long story short, I used to make a practice of expending energy to do things that made me feel healthier and happier.

Right now? Not so much. I literally do the best I can do. Some days, all I can manage is to take my meds twice a day when I’m supposed to. I have alarms that tell me to do that. Eat at least two meals. Drink enough water that I’m not dying of thirst. And put on clean underwear.

Full transparency… I ran out of clean underwear at some point last week. That is not a thing that used to happen to me. Ever. But in these times I was so not surprised.

I’d like to think this time off will be a reset. That it will enable me to find a new baseline for self care. But I don’t know if that’s true. And well… That’s not really good enough.

a variety of boots

I don’t really need a new pair of boots in the pandemic…

I’ve spent the past several years waiting for the other shoe to drop. Metaphorically speaking, one could say that I’ve been privy to an entire bougie shoe store full of the other shoes dropping.

A year ago, you know, when we were whisked into lockdown by a global pandemic, it seemed like the entire contents of the boots section fell on my head.

Specifically boots because… well because boots. But also because while it was painful and scary, there was also a part of me that was like, “Oh wow! Look at all this time I get to spend at home without coming into contact with other people!” Talk about feeding my introvert fire.

The situation was a lot like me looking at boots and thinking that I want every single pair of them. But really one can only put so many pairs of boots to good use. Or so I’ve been told. Again. And again. And where are you going to keep them all when they’re not on your feet? I only have two feet which means I already have quite a few pairs of boots on shelves, flung behind the sofa, or hiding under my bed. Or, you know, wherever they happened to fall.

Almost a year later, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in that pile of boots, unable to come up for air from beneath the weight of something that in moderation is so very appealing.

And while I am super good and fully understanding that everyone thinks differently, that brains can work differently, that everyone is a world unto themselves and deserves to be given the grace to work in their best way… I sometimes forget to remind myself that I’m a person and I should observe that same level of grace and understanding for myself.

And so it’s with that in mind that I tell you that the forever anxious Cami is also very very sad right now. I feel a weight of hopelessness at the moment that I wouldn’t like to feel. And it is very hard for me to tell myself that nothing is wrong with me right now. Because something is wrong. I’m anxious and sad. And all the carefully implemented strategies I have in place for being my optimal self can sometimes do nothing when you’re feeling a set of feelings that are too big to carry on your own.

Well, on my own.

So I’m doing the things I know I need to do. All of them. I could make a list but I’d leave something off and then I would just feel terrible about that and I might spiral and find myself feeling even worse so I won’t. But I will tell you that I’ve talked to my friends who very much made me feel that it is okay that I’m not okay. They didn’t normalize my depression in a harmful way. They brought up, some of them, they they’re feeling these feelings too. They’re down in funky town with me. They’ve reminded me that things are gross and hard right now. And it’s February. And we’re still in a pandemic. And I don’t have to be magically better just because it’s the same shit I’ve been going through for a year.

And I told my partner and he was… well I think he’s been reading too many articles on how to be supportive of those with anxiety and depression because he was absolutely perfect. I’d be annoyed by it if it wasn’t so perfectly what I needed from him. So there’s that.

And yes I am taking my meds. And yes I’m totally drinking water. And yes I’ve tried yoga. And meditation. And don’t tell me to just be happy because that’s dumb and it doesn’t work that way.

So you can fuck right off, dollar store Bobby McFerrin.

Ahem. You probably know that already, dear reader. I apologize for snapping at you. As I said… I’m feeling a lot of things right now. Mostly all of them. But not so much the happy happy ones.

Which brings me to the part of this post where I talk about why I’m writing this post. Where I assure you that I am okay. Where I explain that I am so privileged to have an exceptional support system of people I love and who love me. That though I am so very fucking sad and all I want to do is watch tv and sleep for a week, I am safe. I am okay. And also I know a lot of folx who are going through things similar to what I’m going through and that really helps me feel seen. And it helps me to know that it’s okay not to feel okay for a little while.

And it totally reminds me to take care of myself and get the support I need.

But not everyone with anxiety and depression knows all that. Or has accepted all that. Or can look to those they know to see that it’s not their fault they feel that way. So if that’s you, if you’re feeling that, this is me popping up to say “it’s not just you!”

And if your friend or loved one is seeming to have an extra hard time right now, you’re not the only one with a friend who is having an extra hard time right now. But you might be the only one who noticed. Help where you can. Be kind to others. Remember, even if you think you know what’s going on with someone else you’re only seeing part of it. This kind of thing is like an iceberg. The part of it you can see is only a fraction of what’s happening beneath the surface. Which reminds me that our concepts of icebergs are patently false. Which also makes me sad.

But I find a small bit of joy in realizing that you do need pretty special boots to deal with an iceberg…

Featured by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash


If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, anger or any combination thereof please reach out for help. To a friend, to your family, a doctor, clergy member, or a counselor. You can call 1-877-726-4727 (Monday – Friday 8am to 8pm) for help locating mental health services available to you in your area.

If you feel overwhelmed and like you may harm yourself you can find local resources to help you here: or call the National Suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255 (24 hours a day 7 days a week).

these are not the droids you’re looking for…

Cami glances to her left. Back to center to the laptop screen in front of her. To her right… all the way over her shoulder. Back to center. It’s morning and outside birds chirp and the sound of morning traffic on the busy thoroughfare is almost a white noise in its consistency. Slowly she sips coffee from her mug which declares in all red cap letters:


It’s morning and clearly she is in contemplation.

She leans into the laptop imagining its a camera and whispers, “This was not the mental health issue you were looking for,” before withdrawing into a normal seated position.

Now that the scene is set and you can all see that I’m clearly my playful and painfully dorky self, let’s talk about the state of my mental health. Why? Because I care. Both about my own mental health and about yours. And also the mental health of that person you know and love who struggles with anxiety and/or depression that you totally don’t know how to help.

Because depressed people can be scary. Anxious people can be scary. You never know what they’re going to do. So, you know, maybe it’s just easier not to look. Or to do that thing where you put your hand over your eyes and peek between two fingers at the screen when the grisly part of the horror movie is on?

I get that. I watch anything involving teeth that way. Just so I can close my hand AND my eyes in case anything I don’t think I can handle comes on.

Watching a friend struggling with mental health issues — and yes there are so many more than I just listed — can be grisly. It can also be… So. Incredibly. Boring. Because their feelings, or their lack of feelings, can take up so much space. You may want to shake them and say “KNOCK IT OFF” or not speak to them until they can get their shit together. Or if it’s you, yourself… you may want to not speak to yourself until you get your shit together.

Here’s where we cue Cami storytelling mode…

We’re still in this global pandemic. Things are a mess. It’s been 6 months now and I, the lifelong anxiety sufferer finally admitted the medications I had been on for two years were no longer doing the job they once did. At all. (That happens sometimes. Your neurochemicals are no longer behaving in the way they once did, for better or for worse.)

Wow… look at me trying to detach from this situation by saying they’re your neurochemicals. They’re not. I don’t know what’s up with your neurochemicals. I don’t even know what’s up with my own. But I’m calling myself on that avoidance. So…

My neurochemicals are no longer behaving the way they once did. And I don’t even need the for better or for worse, I can tell you it’s for worse. How can I tell?

Well my home is in a more significant state of disarray than ever. My work has suffered. I’m short with my family. I’ve been avoiding dealing with some of my friends. I’ve been obsessing over things I don’t normally obsess over. I haven’t been taking very good care of my plants. Also, I smell. Like… this is the worst time to be a smelly human. My partner and my offspring are locked up inside a house with me for 6 months and I choose this time to be lax about my hygiene? Bad move. Except it’s not something I chose. It’s just something that fell into place because I didn’t care and I didn’t realize how much I didn’t care.

I’d also been sleeping A LOT and I bring that up because for a lot of people that is a sign that their mental health is in decline or crisis. For me it’s just that I like sleep A LOT.

Back to those neurochemicals. I spent most of my life shouting into the void that I would never be put on anti-anxiety meds. That my brain is my own and that I will just work through it. And then a couple of years ago I got brave and I told my anxiety to shove it and talked to my doctor and asked for help. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because one part of me was raging against all the other parts of me and all of those systems of self are deeply interwoven. To harm my anxiety with medical intervention instead of just therapy and coping strategy, was to harm all of me. It wasn’t true, but I was convinced that it was.

Okay. Enough background. Fast forward back to the pandemic. To stinky, bumbling, messy, zombie Cami. My anxiety had a tight enough grip on me once again that I was convinced it was my fault that the medications weren’t working. I tried everything I knew to try in my playbook and nothing helped. So I did the super hard thing again and made an appointment to talk to my doctor to admit that this shit that was working no longer works and I am once again an anxious mess who has panic attacks every time I leave the house and yells at people on the street for coming too close to me without a mask. Who is so anxious I can’t think straight. And please can you help me fix this?

And so the cycle of trying on new neurochemicals begins again. And what I’m doing now seems very much to be working. So much so that I am painfully aware that it wasn’t just anxiety.

You see… I’ve always had anxiety. But I’m not depressed. Ever. Except when I am. And I was so entrenched in my own narrative as a person with anxiety disorder and panic disorder that I couldn’t even consider there could be more going on than I thought.

This is where I remind you that I am not a mental health professional. I don’t even play one on TV. I would love to be an advice columnist but that is beside the point. I’m just one of the many suffering from anxiety. And as it turns out, situational depression.

Depression was not the mental health concern I was looking for. But there it was.

So why did I write out this long babble of thoughts and feelings and neurochemical ramble? Because I want to make the invisible visible. I want you to know, if you’re suffering, you’re not the only one. I want you to know if your loved one is suffering, you’re not alone and they’re not the only one. And there’s hope.

This morning, after some adjustment to the new medication and tweaking when I take it, I woke up clear headed. I got up and took a shower before starting my workday without really thinking about it. I put in my contact lenses. I put on clean clothes. I felt normal in the best possible way and it took some contemplation to understand how truly special that feeling of normalcy is to me.


If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, anger or any combination thereof please reach out for help. To a friend, to your family, a doctor, clergy member, or a counselor. In the US you can call 1-877-726-4727 (Monday – Friday 8am to 8pm) for help locating mental health services available to you in your area.

If you feel overwhelmed and like you may harm yourself you can find local resources to help you here: or call the National Suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255 (24 hours a day 7 days a week).


Note: medication isn’t the answer for everyone. It hasn’t always been the answer for me. It may not always be the answer for me. I hope it isn’t. I’m just sharing my story as it is. Right now.

Featured image by Marty McGuire on Unsplash