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Long COVID, Midlife Crisis or am I just Old?

Yesterday on Twitter I read a thread about Long COVID and processing speed…which in and of itself is sort of remarkable since I barely use Twitter anymore and what time I do spend on the site is usually just a total waste of time. For reference’s sake, I was an early and avid Twitter user–in fact, I spent the better part of a decade using Twitter daily as part of my career as a social media manager. Not to mention blogged about social media and Twitter for a solid 14 years before finally giving up the ghost only recently. It’s weird to think back to how much of a social media zealot/champion/super user I was for a decade only to have that obsession and one of the biggest ways I communicated kind of peter out over the past three or so years. People talk about young people being digital natives and living their lives online and not being able to imagine social life without it; I think the same is definitely true for older people like me–especially either early adopters and/or interoverts(ish) who, back before social media turned into the democracy/privacy-crushing dumpster fire it’s become was quite utopian and was where the vast majority of my socializing, professional networking and career development happened. Then I was a lonely, depressed mess for a good solid three-four years which happened to coincide with my disgust for social media and what it became/enabled and what I felt a decent amount of either guilt or at least weirdness about perpetuating for the part I personally played in extolling its virtues in blog posts, articles, public speaking and just in general for years. Which meant that what was already a really isolated, sad and hard time in life was made that much harder for not having the go-to digital social channels I’d relied on since about 1996 to help me feel like I wasn’t so alone.

Anyway, back to the twitter thread about Long COVID and neurological/cognitive deficits, including processing speed…I read the thread I read yesterday (or was it the day before? post-COVID time is also a total mystery to me) highlighting the documented decreases in processing speed at once made me feel better in the way that at least being able to ascribe a cause to something frustrating or life-altering aside from “you’re imagining it” but at the same time, just made my heart sink, as do similar articles detailing cognitive decline in COVID “long-haulers”…one of which I’m relatively certain I am. I’m about to enter some study/testing thing that I doubt will do much for what feels like a brain that just, frankly, sucks about 89% more than it did pre-COVID but will maybe at least provide some insights and eventually some treatments or at least hope that someday the brain I felt worked a lot faster and more efficiently in years past might one day resurface.

Which brings me to the question I think about a lot lately, as I navigate what I assume is long COVID (prior to having COVID in May I didn’t require almost daily naps and, other than when I was depressed…which, granted, was a decent amount of the time…felt like I generally was a pretty productive person and certainly managed to parent two kids for 20 years while working full-time for most of it, all while also blogging, maintaining relationships and interests, traveling a fair amount and just generally living like a regular person. In my case, COVID isn’t the sole factor that’s resulted in my life compressing in and in and in on itself until I’ve turned into a person who spends the vast majority of her time lamenting the fact that my life has become so fraught and contracted and just SMALL–I truly hate feeling like such a diminished version of the person I feel, at least in hindsight, was so capable and accomplished. A big part of the whole self-criticism and also concept of diminished productivity/self-worth even when objectively has to do with the gut-punch that was dealing with my own mental health issues, career dissatisfaction/frustration and, though I didn’t really realize it at the time, the fact that just as I was becoming an empty-nester and dealing with what that change represented in my life, I was also dealing with the intricacies of parenting a child with addiction issues…something which I’d honestly never thought would be something I’d ever have to know about, let alone be a person whose life was pretty much entirely eclipsed by the truly terrifying, debilitatingly painful and frustrating reality that is loving a child who’s an addict. My life the past almost five years has been pretty much swallowed whole and as I begin the process I’ve come to know as “detaching with love” I’m telling you, I have so much to say, or that I want to say but don’t even know where or how to begin even if it was something I felt comfortable writing about publicly…basically the heaviness of that topic alone is enough to crush me and render me a total zombie; the fact that long COVID is also heaped in there along with my ongoing ADHD/mental health issues and I have to say–the whole “adulting is hard thing” doesn’t even begin to touch this shit.

The good news is that at least the depression and anxiety that weighed on me for the better part of the past two years (three? four?) has eased a decent amount, thanks to who knows what combination of factors–all I know is that I’ll take every single second of respite and even though days like today when it’s 5 pm and I feel like I hardly accomplished a thing and my mind wants nothing more than to rip myself to shreds for being such a slacker and sad-sack with nothing to show for the day; no to-do list item totally checked off; stray laundry still sitting right where it’s been for the past week; what feels like no forward movement in my quest to begin in earnest the next chapter of my life…the one that’s still as murky as sludge yet feels as time-critical as if I don’t have it figured out by end of week I’ll not only be penniless but also the doors to any future feeling of confidence in who I am or what my purpose is will have slammed shut and I’ll spend the next five, 10, 20 or more years of my life just twisting in the wind, my mind moving more and more slowly, feeling more and more distant from a life that makes sense like the previous chapters of my life all seemed to.

Sigh…how’s that for a Monday whine? The sad/glad thing is that being able to articulate this stream of thought feels like a win in its own weird way, even if the fact remains that I barely made progress on anything today and no doubt tomorrow will dawn steeped in the anxiety of not only making up another in a series of hundreds of empty days like it before but the pressure to finally turn things around AND TODAY now that I feel such possibility is a thing. Which is a good thing–I mean, to go from no hope to hope; from total sense of isolation and true invisibility and lost-ness in the world to ok I’m still not actually sure what’s ahead but I can sense it’s something at least is, while not the heady feeling of certainty, definitely a better state than feeling trapped in a dark, dark abyss that feels like it may never change or be lit up again.

I am still frustrated enough to punch this computer screen over the fact that Mailpoet (which I use for blog subscriptions) seems to keep losing the very tiny handful of subscribers I’d managed to amass and I cannot for the life of me figure out what’s going on, which drives me CRAZY even though it literally couldn’t matter less. It would just be nice if some things–ANY things–felt solid and sure in a world that seems to be just inflation, fear, me feeling totally unsure of who I am anymore or what I want to be/do, etc. Honestly, world, to just not have to give a shit about whether I need to learn another new thing/do another time-consuming WordPress thing in addition to the website I’m like 3/4 excited about and 1/4 literally pulling my hair out with frustration for the in-the-weeds parts that nobody other than me cares about yet will haunt me until I get them right…I honestly would pay good money for someone to just swoop in with an envelope containing instructions for what I should do next in my life, complete with a detailed list of steps I need to take to get there. And I’d pay twice that amount to have someone just offer to hire me to do a job that provided social interaction, structure and at least the bare bones of a weekday identity upon which to hang my hat. In case anyone reading this happens to want to be my fairy god person–here’s my LinkedIn profile and here’s the fancy new website that I’ve spent the past week building yet now just want to stab my eyes out finishing the last bits of.

Thanks for reading/listening to me rant…here’s hoping I finally write one of the book or TV or clothing recommendation posts that have been in drafts forever later this week.

About Author

I'm a writer at heart and have been blogging for 15+ years. Trying to rekindle the fun of blogging with Chic n' Geek...we'll see how it goes! Thanks for reading! --Maggie

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