Your Furloughing My Mental Health

Fourteen days and counting…

Imagine waking up every morning not sure of what you’re doing with your day, not because you have a choice- but because your workplace isn’t open at the moment for reasons so far out of your control. Regardless of the politics that surround this issue and regardless of where you stand on said politics, it’s doing more than just giving federal employees a paid vacation.

For me, it’s impacting my mental health more than I can explain. But here I am to try to put this all into perspective, at least in my case.

I thrive off of routine. My best state is doing the same thing over and over again, which allows me to have extra energy when I am face to face with my anxiety. Free time doesn’t fare well in my world as it gives me far too much space for my thoughts to wander. Right now, the only thing I have is free time and a whole lot of fear and anxiety, which is taking a toll on my physical health. I’ve had the same headache since New Years, the ever growing knot in my neck that Tiger Balm is barely touching and a constant sick feeling in my stomach. I just want to feel well again and have my purpose back.

The house has been cleaned top to bottom, closets have been organized, toilets scrubbed, even donations dropped off at the clothing bins. I’ve run out of things to clean. I’ve run out of things to do to feel productive and that’s a dangerous place for me to be. I feel the darkness around every corner, it creeps in closer and closer with every passing day the federal government’s doors are shut. The anxiety is overwhelming that the end of all this seems to be getting pushed further and further away. Threats that it may last months or years, whether they be empty threats or not, make every muscle in my tired body tense.

There are bills that have to be paid. Luckily, I can take advantage of the options my student loans provide for pausing repayments. That takes a burden off my shoulders, but it still leaves me with a finite amount of money left for the remainder of our bills for an unknown amount of time. For a person that has a spreadsheets for their budget- this doesn’t sit well. I feel like I’m walking up to the edge of a cliff, unaware of how much farther I have to go before I drop. It’s making sleep harder and harder at night. Even though we may get that pay in the end, when will that end be? Those bills don’t wait.

I am struggling, but I’m holding on to hope.

I still have a small light in my corner that I’m grasping onto for dear life. This furlough is costing me my health, but I refuse to lose all progress I’ve gain in the past few months. Anything that provides me with a sense of accomplishment- I’m diving into: puzzles, games, helping my friends out, serving others at church- literally anything to fill my cup. I am throwing myself into new projects just to pass the time. God doesn’t give us things we cannot handle. I know that- even if the timing just feels confusing. We just closed our clothing boutique, was it the right time? I sit here everyday and wonder how I can make some extra dollars to spread my budget a little further. I know it was the right time for that story to end, but how were we to know that days later I’d be shutting off my work laptop for an undetermined amount of time.

So desperately I just want life to go back to normal, to wake up early and trek my way into the office, to fill my to go coffee cup and head out the door. It’s more than just finding things to do with the free time. It’s about finding purpose with my day to dodge the darkness waiting for me to trip up and consume me. So I keep walking.

As you go about your day, I encourage everyone to be a little kinder and empathetic. You never know who is battling something more than being off work. I keep my smile on as a camouflage, but inside things are crumbling. I may mentioned being furloughed inside a bout of laughter, but inside that’s a bout of tears. As I keep reminding myself, things will work out guys, just keep holding on.

And if anyone needs any help literally doing anything I’m furloughed- seriously let me know. I’ve got two extra hands that have way too much free time.

1 comment

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  1. Heidi F

    This whole furlough is ridiculous and needs to end. I am so sorry friend. I hope that you get back to work soon! I know how hard it is when my routine is interrupted and how my anxiety starts taking over when I have too much free time.

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