Have you had your quarantine meltdown yet? Because I have. And I think every mother should have one, if you haven’t already. If you feel like you’re on the verge, holding your tears in as hard as you would hold onto your toddler’s hand as you cross a busy street, I encourage you to let it out.
Crying and tears have been compared to exercise and sweat. Both relieve stress and improve moods. In hindsight, having had one big sobbing meltdown a handful of weeks ago while in quarantine is why I think I’m handling life pretty damn calmly right now. At least I’m not losing my shit anymore, even when I have every reason to lose my shit, like most of us overwhelmed and worried mothers.
As someone who has always worn my emotions on my sleeves, I’d think you’d be a robot if you haven’t allowed yourself a crying fit in these last few weeks. Have you not seen your assets evaporate? Are you not worried about your loved ones and neighbours getting sick? By now, do you not know someone who has been greatly affected by this virus? I don’t know one person who isn’t living in some sort of nightmare state of angst and “what if?” scenario.
So fellow moms: cry. Stop trying so hard to hold your shit together, and bawl your eyes out. There is no winning at parenting during this time, so stop trying to be a martyr and let’s show our vulnerability. Allow yourself to finally give into a quarantine-driven meltdown sob fest, even in front of your children or spouse or boss.
I’ll quote only one neuroscientist, before I get to my human experience of having my quarantine meltdown sob-fest, and why, after that, my mood has actually improved ten-fold.
Neuroscientist Dr. William H. Frey II, author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears, has said, “Crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, it’s also a healthy one.”
Fighting back tears is not only exhausting but in dire circumstances, a good cry can provide at least a temporary release of all your frustrations and worries, if not a more permanent one, as it has for me.
None of us have been trained to deal with this stress marathon, so I find it really odd that, uncharacteristically, I feel okay today, and have felt okay every day for a couple of weeks after I allowed myself to give in to that five-hour crying streak. (In front of my nanny and my daughter, as they both rubbed my back, telling me that everything is going to be okay.)
I cried for Five. Hours. Straight. But, oddly, and I think it’s thanks to my almost day-long sob-fest-quarantine meltdown, I’m actually way less stressed out and less anxious these days, even despite losing five paying jobs in 72 hours.
So many mothers need to hear this: allowing yourself to have one good cry, in these unprecedented times, may help you be stronger as we wait for things to return to some sort of normalcy. Think of it as an exercise for your eyes. One good bawl will make you feel like you do after a good exercise session. Tired, but relieved it’s over.
In fact, I think I’d be doing a disservice to people to not admit that I had a quarantine meltdown and that my quarantine meltdown actually turned out to be a lifesaver during this inexplicable time.
I have spent most of my time, in the last couple of weeks, listening to other people talk about their problems and giving them pep talks. I’ve responded to almost 80 people, 97 percent of whom I have never met in real life. So many people have treated me like a professional therapist, to the point that, after hearing my raspy voice after hours of talking to other mothers I do not know, my friends are now telling me to just stop responding. But…trust me. These mothers who reach out are in full on sobbing meltdown states.
If another mother, even a random stranger you only know from social media, sent a personal note saying they “can’t take it anymore,” or, “I really, really need to talk to someone. I have no one. Please will you help me,” how could I not respond?
Sometimes, these moms are sobbing so hard, I need to wait patiently, telling them to breathe, as they try to calm themselves down, simply to get to the point that I can understand their words. I completely get why no one is admitting that they are about to have a quarantine meltdown, on social media, or are having one right now.
God forbid, if you have some sort of fame or live in a nice looking house, watch out! Because there’s a good chance you’ll be shamed. That’s right. You’ll even be shamed for crying.
Singer Sam Smith, for example, was shamed last month after posting varying ‘stages of a quarantine meltdown’ while in self-isolation, in a $13 million mansion, which led people to criticize the singer for crying, because another feel-good story was floating around at the same time about a 99-year-old, Captain Tom, a WWII hero, who raised over $15.1 million for the NHS by walking around his backyard 100 times with the aid of a walker.
Let’s just say, people were not sympathetic towards the singer, who basically was sharing his mental health struggles, while in quarantine.
I can’t believe that people still need to be reminded that mental health issues do not discriminate and that perhaps Sam Smith, by showing vulnerability, is helping many others, suffering too. If you asked me how I am, I would actually answer, “All things considered, I’m okay, actually. Thank you.”
I haven’t cried since that meltdown day, not because there isn’t so much to cry about, but because my crying marathon, in hindsight, was the best medicine for me. I am no longer in a state of angst or what ifs? I am holding my shit together.
And all because I gave in and allowed myself to have a marathon sobfest.