Last week was a five-day week. Thankfully, we had been slowly working up to that with work from home, curbside and limited exposure to patrons, patrons inside with limited hours and staff reporting three days a week … and then Monday started with open hours from 8-9pm M-F with staff reporting all five days.

I didn’t sleep much Sunday night. The anxiety was sleep crippling. I laid under my weighted blanket after a glass of milk (my go to) and nothing helped. Dawn came. I showered, ate, and put on my work clothes with unease. My commute is about 35 minutes right now since there is little to no traffic, about 20 minutes into it, my chest grew tight and my breath shallow. I felt like I was shrinking inside my own skin. I took deep breaths, held them, let the air out slowly, played music that grounds me, reminded myself that I went back to school, took a large pay cut to do this job. A job that I do love.

But my mind raced. What if people yelled at me about masks? Could I spend the entire day in the emotional ebb and flow of the mask wearers vs the non mask wearers? Were we taking enough precautions? Was I protecting my staff enough? If something happened to them, that on me? Was I going to bring it home to my family? Was I going to get it and be dead in a month? Who was going to write my obituary?

By the time I arrived at work, I was calmer. I had talked myself away from the edge enough that my feet were on firmer ground. I put on my mask and I started my day.

When I come home, I strip and immediately shower. Hopeful to keep the out there from the in here. Only a few people have made snide comments about masks. There were kind people, who were glad we were open and I felt I helped some people.

But every drive to work last week, I had a MMPA (minor morning panic attack). I acknowledge them and meet them head on. They are only about five minutes now and I have a pretty good routine about stepping back from the ledge, but they are exhausting.

Please be kind to the front-line workers; the clerks, bank tellers, cashiers, librarians, receptionists, delivery people, sanitation workers. The list goes on. I cannot even fathom what teachers are going through this month and next. Be gentle because we may look strong, but we are fragile these days.

We are out there because we need to be either financially or it is our calling or somewhere in between, but we are scared. And we may be not our normal selves. Because, normal is hard to find these days.

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