A year ago today I was coming back from a vacation. I felt awful. It was a fun trip. I ate great. I was very active. I lost considerable weight, during vacation! Without feeling limited at all!

But at the same time, I was reaching the peak (depths?) of a months long crisis. Getting my vaccine was a huge relief, but on the other side of unclenching I realized how much had fallen apart that I had just muscled through.

I know I’m not the only one who thought, “Maybe things are getting back to normal!”, and, no matter how naive that turned out to be, found that there was a lot of damage done that needed healing before we’d feel normal.

It was my first time on a plane in over a year, which was possibly the longest stretch I had gone in my entire life without flying. I thought getting away for a true vacation would be restorative. But what I found when I broke out of my house-office was that I didn’t feel better. I hadn’t taken care of myself in all kinds of ways over the previous 18 months.

So I was in Mexico, on vacation, and found that any moment that I was not extremely occupied, I was terrified. I felt panic. I was having anxiety and concerns before I left, but I thought that I just needed a vacation. So when the vacation solved approximately nothing, I was really lost.

I am still working through some of what I found out about myself that week. A year later, I’m struggling with these dueling memories of a dual experience— I have all of these joyful memories of biking, swimming, and eating mixed in with these deep, dread-filled existential crises.

I made a bunch of mistakes last year. I let myself feel unsupported and unloved without asking for support and love. I let myself focus on small number of opportunities to refill my emotional reserves instead of finding ways to tend to them every single day. I told myself a lot of stories about the world and my place in it and invited no other voices in to challenge my perspective. I refused to let go of things that were no longer making me happy and embrace the new things that were. I resisted and failed to make some big changes that I probably should have made. I got so lost in surviving for so long.

These are things that happen to people (and me) all the time, but the pandemic made them all so much worse. I think I’m better today. I think I’m more prepared to face these same challenges when they come back again. But last year was harder than the pandemic itself for me. Instead of relief, the relative safety of being young and vaccinated without any major risk factors pre-Delta just opened the gates that held back 18 months of flood waters. I am so lucky to have been able to essentially “muscle through” 2020. I felt what that did to me in 2021.