2020. Very Bad. Would Not Recommend.

I give 2020 one out of five stars at best. I know there are people who have it far worse than me, but when you suffer from depression and anxiety it's difficult not to constantly feel like the victim and think that no one has endured more. My perception is my reality and, although; the thought that no one has endured more is not correct- it is all I can envision.

2020 started off positively, I was training hard and work was going well. I entered Pans and was set to travel to California in March to compete. My plan was to stay with my "Jersey Ride or Die" besties, Jen Russell and Joan Zulawski (DeAgro). Since I am in the Masters 5 age group getting matches always represents a challenge, but Yvonne Morken was in my division and we were both looking forward to competing. Everything was lining up perfectly. Then Covid-19 hit.

March 19th, 2020, my work shut down and I made the decision I could not travel because I am immunocompromised being a severe asthmatic. I informed Yvonne and then cancelled my travel arrangements. I thought, like I think many of us assumed, a few weeks or a month would pass and everything would be back to normal, right? WRONG.

Work reopened May 15th to severely reduced hours and an in pending sense of doom at the retail outlet I manage. Would people shop, would enough shop to justify keeping us open? There were not enough workable hours to ensure 40/hours/week of pay but they had paid us the entire closure and vowed to keep it going as long as they could (https://people.com/human-interest/companies-with-heart-business-leaders-giving-back-pandemic/  (Tim Boyle)), and they did an still do.

2020 continued, but I was still not training, too much unknown for me to risk. In September, my Mother went to the hospital for an asthma attack, nothing unusual for her, and within a week she had been diagnosed with lung cancer which most likely had metastasized to her brain. After two weeks in the hospital, she was sent to a nursing home, then admitted to hospice. Two weeks later she passed under hospice care. This was devastating to me as I was extremely close to my mother. Her passing brought my brothers and I back together after 20 years of shakiness. And, we are closer now than ever.

During the time my mom was sick my whole life revolved aorund her and working. Every week I would make the four hour long road trip to South Florida to stay with her for a few days. Luckily another manager at work was willing to give me consecutive days off, and then I worked every day I was at home; however, I still could not train. I could not risk the opportunity to see my mother for the 20 minutes they granted us during set appointments by checking the box that said “have you been or could you have been exposed to Covid 19?” I had to continue to always wear a mask always practice best hygiene and not put myself at risk.

To add to my mental health issues in August/September, my dog, my girl, Saige, a 16-year-old Schnauzer mix went blind. She had never shown signs of her age until now, the middle of my mom declining, and a pandemic keeping me from doing what I love. One of our other dogs, a 13-year-old pit mix also began showing aging signs. The weight of everything was getting heavier than get caught in side control with the 300lb guy at the gym. 

How can I keep myself from falling down a hole that is always open because of depression? I hang on with my fingertips. Then I see most all my peers – all that I competed against at Masters Worlds last year, all my fellow old ladies, are training and they all have been awarded their brown belts. I was supposed to be there with them, a brown belt. This was our journey together, even if we were at other gyms and even fought against each other, this was supposed to be our thing.  Years of hard work had been put into this achievement.  I had worked so hard to get there, and I know it's not about the belt, but in this moment, in this time, in my state of mind, it is. I feel I have been left behind; like I am not part of the group anymore. How do I get through this? I do not know, perhaps there is an answer in part two.


battling depression and covid with Jiu-Jitsu

Written and submitted by Jodi Schwartz. Jodi is a four stripe purple belt under Matt Murphy and Zack Olivera of Olivera BJJ in Bradenton, Florida.