Feeling Stuck

I’ve been sitting here looking at a blank screen for almost 15 minutes, cursor blinking at me, Carrie Bradshaw style. I don’t know exactly how to communicate what I’ve been feeling lately but I feel like I need it off my chest so get ready for some word vomit.

If I had to put my feelings into one sentence it would be this: I feel stuck. There is no flow of creativity or excitement coursing through my blood which makes me feel almost paralyzed at times when I sit to accomplish… well… anything.

I perform well under pressure so my marketing work is actually the one thing going really well. I get paid to do things by a certain date for my clients so that keeps me in check. But with Lemon Stripes, I feel like I’m floating around and can’t get my thoughts or ideas together the way I’ve been able to for over a decade. This is highly unsettling because a big part of my identity is tied up in my work… probably too big a part but that’s a story for another day.

The stuck feeling isn’t anxiety though (which I’m more used to). It’s something else.

Before I went on medication, I used to go through cycles of anxiety, high anxiety, panic attacks, then mild depression. The depressed state would only last for a week or less but I always knew it would end which made it more livable.

For the last two weeks, I’ve had a similar feeling of lethargy and stagnancy that I’d get in those times. But now it’s not a part of any “normal” cycle so I’m working extra hard to take steps to make sure I get through it. Talking through it in therapy and staying on top of my meds has made me feel more confident.

But as a Type A human being, I want to know why. When it comes to mental health, I’ve been taught over and over again that there isn’t necessarily one particular thing that causes me to feel one way or another. It’s a physical condition in my brain.

Yet here we are in what is by far the weirdest period in most of our lives and it feels bigger than a chemical imbalance. There is a lot of fear in life right now and that fear has tampered my spirit more than I’d like to admit.

Going into winter, I have a fear of major lockdowns again. Fear of working from home with no childcare, and our household income on my shoulders if Anel has to shut down his gym again.

There is a fear for my daughter and all the kids who are growing up in this strange world. For their mental and physical health.

I have an overwhelming fear of the outcome of this election which is why I’m doing everything I possibly can to help Biden win (sidebar, join me tomorrow at 2:30 pm EST, to learn about how you can help phone bank in key states!).

Plus a general fear for the state of our nation. The amount of hatred I see online both towards myself and others has grown exponentially over the last year. Vile, hateful, disgusting insults are thrown out seemingly without a second thought.

Oh, and QAnon. Just the fact that it exists. Yikes.

Honestly just writing out that list made me feel better! But what I find what helps me the most is something really simple: getting out of the house and exploring.

In addition to fear, antsiness is part of my problem… I’m sure you all can relate to that in some shape or form! I’m antsy to go visit my mom in California and I’d kill to spend a weekend away with Anel. But those things aren’t part of our 2020 reality.

Our options are obviously limited in this day and age but even working from a local coffee shop with outdoor wifi instead of at home makes a big difference. Over the weekend I drove into the city to walk the High Line with my cousin who I haven’t seen since pre-COVID days. Being (safely) in the energy of a new place was like a jolt of electricity that I needed. This also inspired me to finally put my feelings into writing.

In conclusion, I have no conclusion. But if anyone else feels like this I want you to know that you’re not alone and I really believe we will all get through this. Do the things that make you feel alive no matter how small they are!

Dudley Stephens Fleece / J.Crew Blazer / Skirt/ Jenni Kayne Mules (similar & very affordable here)

Photos by Julia Dags

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  1. EM said:

    No conclusions either but I am with you on the feeling stuck feeling. The worst thing about it is there’s nothing we can do to change the situation. (For example, travel to my family in America is currently practically impossible, and it’s out of my hands– it isn’t a situation of having to save money due to not bein

    Where I live is on several restructed lists for travel– many places won’t accept us without quarantine or multiple negative Corona tests (which are practically impossible to get even when you are willing to pay for them). The really frustrating thing to me is this is all regional and the people who live in the next province– which is literally 2 blocks from my home– aren’t subject to this, even the ones who live in my city, and I spend my workdays in that province.

    I know I am lucky to still have a job but the fun parts of work are also gone and the constant Zoom calls are draining. (And having other social/personal events moved online also takes the fun out of them and makes them draining!) I also think it cannot be healthy for our kids that so much of life has been moved to screens.

    The worst thing about it is there’s nothing we can do to change the situation. (For example, travel to my family in America is currently practically impossible, and it’s out of my hands– it isn’t a situation of having to save money due to not being able to afford the plane ticket or not having the vacation days to take.)

    Also the second-guessing every activity is mentally draining because it feels like it is always possible to do the wrong thing even without intending to. In normal times one wouldn’t think twice about it being good or bad to visit and help elderly relatives- it would be a good thing. Currently my husband and teenagers and I are splitting duties with family members helping elderly relatives who are having some health challenges. On one hand it feels like risking them to go there (as my kids are back in mandatory in-person school each day, my husband and I work in our workplaces, etc.), on the other they were suffering mentally without any outside companionship, and their other health issues and need for help at home didn’t go away just because Corona appeared. In the end we all decided that the going to them was the best option for all of us and they are aware of the risk.

    Also it is frustrating because even though we had a lockdown (earlier than in the US), masks are mandatory here (and aren’t a political thing here, so people are complying), and there are all kinds of restructions, yet the numbers are at record highs. And the scaries of entire industries just going away or being severely impacted, even things that would be safe/r in a normal economic crisis. (For example here hairdressers were shut down for 2 months. While you probably aren’t going to become a billionaire cutting hair you could assume that you couldn’t be outsourced to a different country because you need someone right where you are– in a normal time one salon could close but you could assume that you could move to a different salon or go into business for yourself, but you wouldn’t have believed that it would be illegal to cut hair professionally for 2 months!)

    And in all of this time passes by, time with loved ones that we can never get back. And experiences that our children can only have at this point in their lives.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  2. Gita said:

    Julia, thank you for putting this into words. I feel the same! Lots of bad personal things have happened, but with covid on top of it all, I just feel stuck as well.
    I will try and follow your lead and push myself to do things that fuel me.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  3. Ailsa Emmel said:

    Yes to all the above. I have found you express so many of my feelings so well, some are precious and some are current. Thank you foe not being afraid to express how you feel, in hopes that others may also gain insight.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  4. Kerin said:

    Thank you for sharing ❤️ I definitely know the feeling!

    10.12.20 · Reply
  5. Cait G said:

    So agree, Julia. Sending hugs. We will get through this!

    10.12.20 · Reply
  6. It is comforting to know I am not alone in so many of these thoughts. Feeling stuck is a very accurate summary of how I feel. And the downright meanness on social media is consuming and has impacted me very negatively. I am grateful for your realism and not being afraid to put it out there, while also being optimistic, and for TAKING ACTION. For me, when I see someone I admire and respect have a moment of complaining and ‘being Eyeore” as I call it, it validates my feelings of “being Eyeore” but then motivates and inspired me to get up and start doing something. anything. to evoke positive change.. hang in there.. <3

    10.12.20 · Reply
  7. Jen said:

    Well said, Julia. I think we have all felt these things over the past several months. It’s all about finding the simple joys in life, right, and reminding ourselves that evening it WILL get better. Stay well..

    10.12.20 · Reply
  8. Lauren said:

    I think all of these feelings are BEYOND valid and applicable in our current world right now. You take one of those things and it’s borderline too much. Add it all up and I am amazed at how well we are functioning, because there would be zero explanation needed if we were not. You’re not alone in your feelings and thanks for putting them all on paper. Xo

    10.12.20 · Reply
  9. Mackenzie said:

    I 100% agree with you. Work has been so hard especially the past few months. I am already so drained mentally, yet the work load has picked up significantly. I had August in my mind that this would be over.. no real reason why August but it’s what I had in my mind. But it never ended and in some ways I find it worse. People are doing what they want with no repercussions and yet I am still at home isolating myself. I am grateful to have a job and to have work… but it has also been unbearable the past few months and feel like I’m at my wits end. As of thanksgiving I have not seen my mom for a year and she is my best friend and it absolutely devastates me. To echo what you said, in conclusion, I have no conclusion (I love that… that is exactly how I feel). Thanks for sharing and letting me comment (vent!)

    10.12.20 · Reply
  10. Patti Black said:

    SO glad you wrote this !! It’s an overwhelming feeling for people like us—“the creators”. It’s a daily struggle even for someone without anxiety. So please know you are SO not alone!!

    10.12.20 · Reply
  11. Kirsteen said:

    Snap. Am lying here staring into space, when I have 463 things I ought to be doing. I think it’s also this time of year, with the fading light and shorter days. Combine that with Politics ( We’re Scottish and we abhor Trump and every venal, ignorant, mean-spirited thing he stands for. Ditto Brexit.) But I’m sure better days are coming. Hopefully, starting in November, when the world will tilt back to a more even keel.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  12. Beth said:

    Julia, I had a discussion with my therapist Las week about feeling like I’m boxed in. The intentional life I built was blown up by 2020. She reminded me this is a phase and to give myself some grace. Please know so many of us are feeling like you are right now.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  13. Alyssa said:

    This post resonated with me so much! For the last month I have been really struggling with my mental health and anxiety and been struggling to get ahead of it. I had a therapy appointment and my therapist reminded me that we are still living in a world of unknown. Since we have been living with this for so long it has become our new normal, but a new normal that should not be normal. Hearing this reminder was comforting but I still don’t have the answers on how to feel better. I think I just have to sit in it for a minute and not beat myself up for feeling anxious and having a hard time. I know the things I have to do to come out and have faith it will get better. Thank you for sharing how you are feeling and letting others know that they are not alone in this!

    10.12.20 · Reply
  14. Mallory said:

    This was literally 85% of the discussion I had in my therapy sesh today. It really sucks to not have the outlets to cope with this either. The things I’d do to recharge and get my head right aren’t available to me now. So stuck. In a feedback loop that feels never ending. Ugh. At least there is solace that we’re all in the same place. Stay well.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  15. Kristin said:

    Something I’ve been keen to remind myself lately is that things are never going to back to normal as we knew it. As depressing as that sounds, it’s helped me to reframe and stop waiting for some magic return to normalcy that won’t occur. Things will improve from the current situation at some point but I refuse to constantly project when that might happen and I’ve gotten better accepting the reality of the way things actually are vs how I wish they would be. It helps to prepare by accepting that we have to think about things like losing income, getting sick, etc. At least we can have some loose plans in place rather than have the feeling of waiting for the shoe to drop on those bigger issues.

    On really bad days, I also remind myself that everything is cyclical. We’ve been lucky to be alive during a time in humanity that offers many comforts and benefits. By historical standards, we are in pretty good shape. That doesn’t negate the fact that this is the biggest challenge many of us have faced in our lifetimes, but there are so many before us that have faced so much worse.

    If on my worst day, I still have my health, a full pantry, clean water, a comfortable home, and endless sources of entertainment at my fingertips – it really helps me to reframe. Easier said than done, but I’ve been working steadily on attacking my “slump periods” over the past few months.

    10.12.20 · Reply
    • EM said:

      I agree to an extent but personally I’d give up entertainment on the screen to be able to be with family and friends.

      The only good thing about this whole situation is I’ve always been grossed out about handshaking (big where I live) and now I have a legit reason to not shake hands and nobody thinks I’m being rude or not behaving according to the norms of the culture here!

      10.12.20 · Reply
  16. Jill said:

    This is really resonating with me today! I appreciate your willingness to be open about things like this. I’m hoping you feel less ‘stuck’ soon…and I hope that for myself too! I will say, some of the times when I felt the least like myself and the most ‘off’ were during renovations. I am organized and pretty tidy (not necessarily the best cleaner LOL) and even though renovating is voluntary and exciting, not having a tranquil place, ESPECIALLY when we’re spending so much time at home, really didn’t sit well for me! Maybe that’s adding to your stuff as well?

    10.12.20 · Reply
  17. Lisa said:

    Julia, thank you for sharing this personal reflection that clearly resonates with so many of us right now. This summarized perfectly how I’m feeling these days, right down to the parenting/job scenarios.

    I’ve realized lately that only thing that seems to lift me out of this endless circling in my head and fear and parenting guilt seems to be my barre3 classes (they’re my therapy, meditation and stress-reliever, and the walks outside. They help me release some of that angst and (even if the mood-boost is temporary). I cried this morning after failing to get my kindergartner’s weekly online schedule printed and missing my scheduled studio class. I recognize my privilege here, but it’s still hard.

    Hugs to everyone feeling this way right now.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  18. Francesca said:

    Feeling all the same feelings. Thank you for always sharing and being so vulnerable with your community! This too shall pass. Our anxiety is temporary. ❤️

    10.12.20 · Reply
  19. Alexa said:

    I feel exactly the same way! I think you hit the nail on the head with this! So relatable! Thank you

    10.12.20 · Reply
  20. Joyce said:

    I agree with feeling stuck. I totally understand why someone with a business or blog like you, Julia, would need to stay on social media, but I wanted to chime in for some of your other readers who don’t have their incomes linked to social to say that I’ve been off all forms of Social Media since October 1 and I highly recommend it. Just something to consider! I use Marco Polo and What’s App (and email and texting and phone calls) to stay in touch with my people. I do miss some baby and pet pictures, but overall I know it’s the right choice for me right now.

    10.12.20 · Reply
  21. Natalie F. said:

    I feel stuck with work about every 2.5 years. After many cycles of that, I finally realized that I just need constant challenges. I initially thought it was a bad thing that I need to find different responsibilities so often, but then I eventually embraced it because it sucks to not be motivated at work. I read this book called Radical Candor, which was mostly about communication. But the author also identifies two types of people at work – rock stars and super stars. The rock stars are the steady experts, while the super stars need challenges and to constantly learn. Perhaps you’re the super star type that can get unstuck with a new challenge?

    10.12.20 · Reply
  22. Libby said:

    Thank you for summing this up perfectly because I have some very similar feelings. I get that we can only control what we can control, but I have never been this bothered my the uncontrollables. I feel stuck in life, stuck if I should back home, and stuck in my journey of medical school applications. I honestly feel like I feel more anxious now than I did in March because we know what lockdown feels like, AND there is this election, just wow…I voted already though so that made me feel a bit better 🙂 But just thank you for this post, Julia! You always know what to write even if you don’t feel like you do!!

    Libby

    10.13.20 · Reply
  23. Amy said:

    I am totally with you on this. This year has been so stressful and there really seems to be no end in sight. In addition to Covid, the election and all the negativity surrounding it, is leaving me completely drained. I have family members very deep into Qanon and it makes me sick to my stomach! Really hoping for a Biden win in the next few weeks and maybe that will make me feel better. I can’t take much more bad news this year!

    10.19.20 · Reply