My Unwavering Search for News was Wearing on my Mental Health

When I had babies and I was knee deep into the early weeks/years of motherhood, do you know what I missed? The news. I missed knowing what was happening in the world. I missed knowing the current events and hearing the weather report. Heck, I even missed hearing about the politics of the minute. So I started recording the 5:30 news with Brian Williams and I would watch it when I had a respite at around 10pm. My oh my, how the world has changed for me (and Brian Williams!).

Then Came a Worldwide Pandemic

During the beginning of the pandemic when the world was racing against time to figure out what had been unleashed in the infectious disease world, I was voraciously reading and searching the news for more information. Trying to understand the origins, the medical effects, the DNA of the war waged on us. It was called several things coronavirus, covid, covid19, a relative of the SARS pandemic from a decade ago, but I could still not wrap my brain around this thing that seemed like no name or word could correctly grasp. Spring break came and went and then the lock down happened! I need to understand!

My need to read everything started as an excuse to understand. I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal, there was a subscription special and I love reading the paper. So, I thought, why not? In addition to the paper, I signed up for Skimm emails. But I didn’t stop there. I signed up for the NYTimes morning and evening reports. I watched the Today show, Good Morning America, and CBS News. Read articles posted on Facebook. I read articles friends told me to read. I watched the evening news and at night I would read yet another email sent by another media sources.

A picture of news papers overlapping each other.

Every media source was consistent in the science and numbers. I would see each state’s cases go up in numbers. The death toll kept rising. But our emotional state was much harder to quantify. The politics got messy. Each state seemed to march to its own beat for good or for bad, I don’t think we will know for awhile. Where your masks was the chant, and the resistance chanted back. What was happening!? I feel like America is in the middle of a messy divorce. The states are the children. But who are the parents?

An Upraising Fueled by Anger

Then in the middle of this war of the unclear disease, we had another rising. Fueled, not by the threat of something ravaging our immune system, but instead by anger that ravaged our social system as we know it. A wake up call to all of us that our system is broken. One thing is clear, we have to look back to our building blocks. From education to health care, all are symbiotic and everything needs a reboot.

Like curing the virus, there are no quick answers. Only time is on our side. A blessing to the healthy and a curse to the sick and hurting. My mind and heart were in a perpetual state of fear. My mind raced. Do I have the virus? What are the symptoms again? Does my husband have it? Can I go grocery shopping – I just need eggs? Tears roll down my face as a I watch the videos of injustice and sadness. What can I do?

My job as a mother is the most important – am I doing enough to teach my kids. Am I being a good role model?

Now, at this moment, I am overwhelmed. I feel like the people in the book “cloudy with a chance of meatballs“ when the food clouds went berserk. But instead of food I was having INFORMATION overload. I need to step back. I need to breathe and climb into my bubble — Where I feel safe, make decisions for me and my family (which includes wearing masks) and stay in touch with a few friends and my parents via zoom and phone calls. I’ll embrace the remarkable weather we have had during the days of the pandemic. That, I believed, was the silver lining.

The New Normal

What will happen in the next few months that is much harder to report. I realized that my quest for information was probably more for guidance on how to live life. The words “new normal” are everywhere. I guess it’s true. I realized that having access to all the articles and media in the world was too much information, not always correct and certainly not full of answers, and it didn’t help light up my pathway.

In fact, I noticed my favorite part of the paper is the “Arts” section, and that’s where I found peace. So that’s where I’m at. I am exhausted even though I have done very little the last couple of months. So, I will use this time as an excuse to watch masterpiece theater, make drinks and enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch, and dance to nostalgic songs with my kids in our living room. I don’t need to immerse myself with information to figure how to do any of those things. This is MY normal.

Mona Gupta Reddy

Mona Gupta Reddy is a lawyer by profession and a mother in practice. She knows no stranger, and it has helped her navigate her life from Michigan to Mississippi. When she is not being a wife and mother to her two boys, she also judges high school debate and theater competitions as well as serve as board member for the Mississippi Opera and Center Players Community Theater. Magnolia Moms is her most recent hat and she wears it proudly.

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