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.

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

secure your mask before helping others…

Yesterday was a hard day. Last week had some hard days too. And the week before that and the week before that. And I keep telling myself that it’s just a hard day or a hard week. That I’m just dealing with all the hard stuff that’s going on in the world and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel bad sometimes. It’s okay to struggle sometimes.

And I checked in with myself and I did the things on my list of things I can do for myself.

  • meditate
  • drink less caffeine and alcohol
  • get more sleep
  • use my planner and journal
  • be realistic and kind to myself
  • care for my plants

Even after all those things I’ve had a string of bad mental health days with high anxiety punctuated here and there with panic attacks.

And yesterday… like I said… yesterday was bad. Walking with my partner down the street suddenly unable to breathe, ripping my mask off my face while hyperventilating while refusing to listen to reason or let the person I trust most in the world help me kind of bad.

Today in talking with a friend she encouraged me to take some time off work. At least a break. Reminded me that mental health in integral to physical health. And to take care of myself before I take care of my people. She told me to put my seatbelt on first.

She knows me. She knows me well. She sees.

So I made a call to my prescriber to make an appointment to have my meds evaluated. Because I should have done that a while ago but… I kept waiting for them to work with me. Kept stressing out that they weren’t helping because, obviously, I’m doing something wrong. And because the world is so broken. Because things are in such a state of chaos. People are sick.

And and those things are all true. The world is broken. Things are in chaos. People are sick. But the only thing I did wrong was not raise the red flag and ask for more help.

So now that my seatbelt is on and I’ve secured my oxygen mask, let me check in with you. How’re you holding up. Are you taking care of yourself? Is your oxygen mask, seatbelt, or life vest on?

If you’re struggling, take a moment to do what needs to be done. Ask for help if you need it. Accept help when it’s offered.

Don’t wait until you’re walking down the street hyperventilating in a panic attack still pushing help away…

featured image by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

medication iteration…

When I finally gave in nearly two years ago and asked my doctor for help with my anxiety, being medicated was the most terrifying thing in the world to me. I didn’t want to do it but I could no longer continue with the status quo I’d been living.

I wanted my anxiety to abate, but I also didn’t know how much it would change me as a person to have that part of me dulled or cut out. If you believe, as I do, that your entire lifetime of experiences make you who are are at any specific moment. Both the good and the bad. Then you might understand why, as a person who loved much of her life, I would be terrified to change something the size of a mountain.

Also anxiety has a funny way of preserving itself. It feeds lies. It feeds panic. It does everything it can to keep itself safe within you so it can live and grow and thrive. Like a parasite eating away at the rest of you.

The hardest time was the first few weeks when my new medications weren’t yet taking hold and every morning taking a pill that was making me tired, stupid, and dizzy seemed like the worst idea ever. When my anxiety told me I was killing something good with every swallow.

I don’t want to drone on about things I’ve already said but…

I will repeat, that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and also Panic Disorder. And it’s no walk in the park. I’ve heard anxiety scoffed at as the socially acceptable hip version of depression. I’ve heard people with anxiety and panic mocked for as just being too tightly wound. Or chided for not being able to get their shit together. I assure you, it’s none of that.

So, as is probably no surprise to anyone, my anxiety has risen to a new level during the recent global pandemic (starting in the months leading up to it). Not just because of the Coronavirus situation itself, but because of how humanity in general is responding. Or not responding in many cases.

It started as a low whisper, grew to a constant white noise, and before I knew it I was back in the wind tunnel of full blown anxiety. My anxiety meds not really keeping anything at bay. My body tingling with stress and fear from the moment I opened my eyes, if I was lucky enough to sleep. My panic attacks coming in clusters more and more often.

And so I told myself it would be fine. It will get better soon. I’ll get used to this new normal. I’ll adjust. I’ll adapt. I’ll cope.

And I started using my coping methods more and more frequently. I started taking my panic medication more frequently. My tells started to show more and more. And then last week some sauce packets we didn’t need or want were delivered with our takeout. And instead of tossing them, which yes I know is wasteful, I dug through a cabinet looking for an empty canister to store them in. You know, in case we need them. For later.

I was a sauce packet hoarder my entire life. Because I was afraid to throw them out. Because we might need them. For something. Someday. But we never used them. Ever. Never ever.

With that in mind, and with the knowledge that I had once again started exhibiting other tells, and also knowing that my panic prescription was almost out I called my doctor and once again did the really hard work of saying “Help me.”

Are my meds losing efficacy for me? Did I adjust? Or is the world just too much to bear right now? I’m not sure, but I was sure I was backsliding. I could feel the soft sucking quicksand of my illness sucking me back in.

So for the first time in a while I’m in the midst of making some changes to my meds. I feel exhausted. I feel dizzy. I feel like thoughts are trying to work their way out of my head as though they’re moving through cooled pudding.

This time I want to take them. My meds. I want to get back to what was my new normal 6 months ago. But my anxiety still has other ideas.

Featured photo by am JD 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).


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.

knows no reason…

This morning I got up early because my brain was buzzing when I woke up at 5am. Buzzing with all the things I didn’t have time for yesterday, all of the things I’m afraid I won’t have time for today. And the anticipation of social interaction later.

Which I will enjoy, but find draining.

I started working early. Making lists. Completing tasks. Checking calendars.

I ate breakfast and chatted with friends. I packed up my bag and hopped in the shower. Got dressed. Put on a favorite pair of earrings. My bracelets. My rings. Threw on blush, mascara, and lip balm. Put on my shoes. Picked up a grocery bag full of solo cups and headed out the door.

Suddenly what started as a brain buzz this morning had traveled deep into my stomach and chest. Tight. Tension. Stiffness. Something in my throat. That familiar fight or flight moment inching into my personal space.

It occurred to me as I stepped onto the train that I wouldn’t have this level of anxiety if I were stepping on a plane to fly across the country. Or across an ocean. Where was this coming from? Why was taking a train into an office I’m familiar with cause me want to run for it. Or more accurately to take off my shoes and pants and climb into bed with a cup of tea?

Anxiety doesn’t make sense. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It just does as it will and has its way with us.

I’ve been on medication for my anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) for nearly two years. Life is different now. It’s better. But this ghost never really goes away. Just tags along in silence waiting to show it’s shadowy figure and turn me inside out.