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I’m Going to do All the Things

by Paul and Jordan Aspen 10 months ago in recovery
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Just as soon as I get well

I’m Going to do All the Things
Photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash

The worst of these past couple of weeks of flu-turned-pneumonia wasn’t the coughing or body aches or struggle to breathe while laying down. The worst part of being sick (again) was the anxiety attacks — the PTSD-feelings of wondering whether this cough was going to be as bad as the one I had a couple of summers ago.

The “summer cold” I had in 2018 turned out to be caused not by a bacteria or virus, but by a fungus. Black mold in our house had been making me ill both physically and mentally for months and it was in the midst of that “summer cold” that I finally connected the dots.

We ended up leaving everything that summer. I escaped with my life, my child, and my marriage. Almost nothing else came out with us.

Of course, I’m grateful for those things I escaped with. I’d rather have this marriage made strong by struggles than a pile of wedding gifts. I’m so happy to be holding my daughter even if I don’t have any of her baby things to help remind me of her first year. And to know that my husband is not a widower and my daughter has her mama to rock her to sleep — that’s priceless.

Being sick is hard, though. The mold destroyed my immune system and ravaged my already fragile mind. I’ve struggled with versions of depression and anxiety since my preteens but the mold kicked everything up a notch. It also increased the list of triggers.

Now a simple pollen-induced cough has me wondering if I’m going to die.

That added mental strain makes being sick debilitating. I remember times when I was grateful to have a cold because it meant people left me alone and I could get a little extra writing or knitting done in peace while snuggled in blankets. These past two weeks my mind was too full of worry to write and my hands too shaky to knit.

As I begin to recover I open my laptop and try to reassemble my to-do list. I close the computer in tears.

I want to do all the things.

I want to write about my experiences and I want to teach people through educational articles. I want to hop on calls and be active in my online communities. I want to work with my hands and teach my daughter to do the same. I even want to clean the house.

Instead I sit here sniffling.

I’m overwhelmed. The lists of everything have me stuck doing nothing, mourning the lost days, weeks, months… years.

As soon as I begin to recover, the moment I start a new project, I get sick again. It might be the flu like this latest bout of illness, but it could just as easily be a mental breakdown because I remembered that I’ll never wrap another baby in the blanket my grandmother knit for my first child.

Recovery is not linear, especially recovery from trauma. It ebbs and flows, dips and dives.

There have been many times since that “summer cold” that I have wondered if I simply need to embrace a new ever-changing normal. There’s plenty of advice out there telling me to do just that. Live a day at a time. Do the next thing. It’s okay that today doesn’t look like yesterday.

Maybe that’s good advice for someone — maybe it’s even good advice for me on certain days — but that’s not what I need to hear right now.

The advice I need is not some productivity hack or positive mindset shift that will free me to move forward.

The advice I need right now is to be still.

I need the freedom to rest. I need to be okay with processing and grieving the traumas I’ve experienced, big or small. I need some space to simply breathe.

I know I’m not the only one suggesting this method of recovery. Still, the voices saying these things have been drowned out by the others that scream, “Move on already.” So I write this because I need to hear it. Maybe you do too.

Be still.


It’s okay, all the things will be here when you get well.

And you will get well.

Originally published on Medium, March 18, 2020


About the author

Paul and Jordan Aspen

Professionally, we help entrepreneurs get other people to sell for them through the power of social proof. Learn more at

Personally, we write... stories, poems, educational articles and more. Read more here on Vocal

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