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  • Writer's pictureA.S. Morris

No Joy January

If you spend more than 30 seconds on the internet I’m guessing you have seen a meme or two highlighting the start of 2022 and the hot mess that has followed in the past 28 days. In all honesty Betty White clearly had magical powers and knew she didn’t want to witness No Joy January.

I’m also assuming most of you reading this are aware of COVID and it’s variant besties and the chaos they continue to craft. As I work in an academic medical center I get to experience this joy in all aspects of my life. Today I was chatting with a dear friend and colleague on what does “normal” even look like anymore coupled with how do we take pride in what we have been able to accomplish in our speciality during a pandemic. It’s been messy and arduous. Heartbreaking, grief filled, and all encompassing. Moments of actual joy have been sprinkled throughout however, it’s more of a diet friendly version these days. There hasn’t, at least for me, been triple layer cake moments of joy. At times it feels as though all we are working towards is to put out fires and duct tape cracks; there is minimal bandwidth left for creating, innovating, and cultivating a culture of healing. This week I admitted to a colleague that I lost my connect to purpose. Which for me is why I show up. I’m not financially motivated or someone who likes the limelight (yes, I’m aware you are reading this on a social media shared blog). I believe in the work I do and the lives it impacts. That’s what motivates me. That motivation has started slipping through those cracks. Yet, I continue to show up, hand out fire extinguishers, cut strips of tape, and hope this wave will crest soon with my professional purpose awaiting on the other side. I’ve never had to navigate my career in this fashion and i am not sure if I should find joy in that fact or failure.

While I would love to take credit for No Joy January, a neighbor of mine coined this little ditty at the bus stop one morning as all us parents were grumbling over a surprise half day closure for pending inclement weather. Don’t come at me however, they could have stayed in school all day. My one child has maybe gone to school for 9 days this month due to COVID, weather, holidays and professional development days. I’m not sure I even know how to spell the word routine even more.

My daughter attends a school that recently made masking a family decision. As a family we have made a choice that she will continue to wear her mask while at school. We have walked with her regarding our reasoning and that our decision is simply what is best for us. She understands but at the same time is so over wearing a mask all day. I get it kid, truly. Everyday I come home from work and she asks if she can stop wearing her mask at school. We walk through our reasoning again and while she isn’t thrilled, she understands. Moments of no joy. While I won’t break in my decision for the near future, it does hurt my momma heart.

Im burnt out. These past couple of weeks have been a hard hit to my soul. A hard hit to my depression. The hurricane meets earthquake that January has been is enough to take even the most stable person down. My sensitivity to sound, touch, and overall anxiety has hit some impressive highs to match some impressive lows. My depression is high functioning, I push through it. I go to work. I navigate snow days and early dismissals and all the other mom/wife things. Taking time off or slowing down doesn’t help me, it only makes it worse. High functioning depressives are typically high achievers. We are fine until all of sudden we are not. We typically know when this line is about to be crossed. My primary distraction when I’m in a depressive episode is burying myself at work. I guess that’s one good thing about healthcare during a pandemic , there is plenty of work; even if you’ve lost your connect to purpose.

While these moments absolutely increase my vulnerability I take solace in knowing I’m not the only one navigating this way of living. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how to cope and how to process and how to deal; what works for me, may not work for you. That’s okay. I’m okay.

Fun Filled February arrives on Tuesday.

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