Bus Driver Dies Of Coronavirus After Posting Video About Passenger’s Cough

Two weeks after posting a video about a passenger coughing on his bus, driver Jason Hargrove died of COVID-19 complications

On March 21, a Detroit-based bus driver named Jason Hargrove posted a concerning video to Facebook. In the video, the 50-year-old public service worker described a woman on his bus who coughed without covering her mouth (like you’re supposed to even if you aren’t sick). In the video, Hargrove says, “This coronavirus shit is for real and we out here as public workers, doing our job trying to make an honest living to take care of our families. But for you to get on the bus… and cough several times without covering up your mouth and you know that we in the middle of a pandemic; that lets me know that some folks don’t care.”

On April 2, about two weeks after the incident, Hargrove passed away from COVID-19 complications. According to a tweet from Amalgamated Transit Union, he leaves behind his wife, Desha Johnson-Hargrove.

“There’s folks dying out here because of this shit. Listen, I’m mad right about now, because that shit was uncalled for and I’m trying to be the professional that they want me to be, and I kept my mouth closed,” Hargrove said in his video, addressing the fact that he did not confront the coughing passenger. According to Hargrove, there were at least eight or nine other passengers on the bus at the time.

The video has gone viral and can serve as a plea to others about the importance of taking precautions if they’re showing symptoms. People like Hargrove are putting themselves at risk to continue doing their jobs and it’s important that others are as safe as they can be when it comes to staying home if they’re symptomatic. Of course, it can’t be known whether or not Hargrove contracted the virus from that passenger in particular. Per the Guardian, the president of the local transit union stated that Hargrove started to feel symptoms “just a few days after he posted the video.”

On March 23, Hargrove posted an update to Facebook, in which he wrote, “If you don’t think this is real I’ve been self quarantine for 14 days due to exposure to the virus!! People stay home.” People have been flocking to Hargrove’s Facebook with condolences to his family.

In a press conference, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan stated, “Everybody in Detroit and everybody in America should watch [his video]. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy, even though he was going to work for the citizens of Detroit every day, by somebody who just didn’t care — somebody didn’t take this seriously — and how he’s gone.”

On April 2, Hargrove’s wife posted an update to Facebook, sharing screenshots of the texts she was trying to send her husband. “All I wanted was a text back. This is so UNFAIR & I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!!,” she wrote.

The moral of this devastating story is to Stay. The eff. At home. Stay home if you’re feeling fine (unless it’s absolutely essential that you leave the house — and do so carefully), and definitely stay home if you’re experiencing any kind of symptoms. COVID-19 is proving to possibly be more contagious than initially thought with researchers believing it may even pass through breathing and talking, not just sneezes and coughs, and even if we do take proper precautions like washing our hands, there’s still a potential risk.

While the Hargrove family has not asked for donations or help with resources, Hargrove’s wife Desha owns an accessories website, where you can buy jewelry. If you feel like personally supporting Desha during this incredibly hard time, you could check out her store and purchase something.

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Sesame Street Responds To Coronavirus Pandemic With Over 100 Free Ebooks

Sesame Street released over 100 free eBooks and other printables, worksheets, and guides for families during the pandemic

Half of the U.S. is under some form of stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic, which means tons of families on lockdown together, parents doing their best to home school, and kids wondering why they can’t go to restaurants or see their friends or do anything, well, normal. These aren’t normal times and to help us get through this global crisis together, Sesame Street just freed up a huge catalog of eBooks.

Sesame Street released 110 eBooks which you can download from all the major eBook platforms (Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) for free. And like all things Sesame Street, the books are both eduational and entertaining, so pop the kids in front of the Kindle for an hour and that’s first period, right?

The free eBooks are part of Sesame Street’s “Caring For Each Other” initative which also includes daily worksheets on creating routines during “The For Now Normal,” health and self-care minded coloring pages, and printables on timely topics like “How to wash your hands.” You can also find the free eBooks on Sesame Street’s “Caring For Each Other” portal.

Sesame Street

“Around the world, young children’s lives are being turned upside down, and parents and caregivers are looking for ways to give their children — and themselves — a sense of stability in this new normal,” Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president for curriculum and content, sesame workshop, said in a statement (via DesignBoom). “But there are things parents and caregivers can do to face each day with optimism. Sesame Street is here to provide the caring adults in children’s lives with the resources they need to help children, and foster their healthy development at home.”

Sesame Street says the activities on the site “are not prescriptions you have to follow, but ideas you can use to spark other playful learning moments,” and they promise to add more content to the portal on a regular basis. Sesame‘s new portal and free eBook service is just one of many free at-home projects companies are pivoting to during the coronavirus pandemic to help families stay entertained. The makers of “Baby Shark “released a remix called “Wash Your Hands.” Amazon has made some of its kid-content free to watch, even if you don’t have Prime. And Onward is now streaming on Disney Plus, despite being in theaters just weeks ago.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.



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You Can Now Order Girl Scout Cookies Online

Buy some Girl Scout Cookies for yourself and have boxes delivered to those on the front line

The Girls Scouts of USA is doing its part during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure we all have our share of their wonderful cookies while we’re at home — and you can donate boxes to the healthcare workers on the front line, too.

The organization announced Friday it’s now selling Girl Scout Cookies online after it suspended all in-person events during its peak season to help stop the spread of the virus. That means we can support the scouts while eating our weight in Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and Caramel Delights while stuck at home with our families. Sounds like a win-win to me.

“For 108 years, Girl Scouts has been there in times of crisis and turmoil,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a statement. “And today we are stepping forward with new initiatives to help girls, their families, and consumers connect, explore, find comfort, and take action.”

GSUSA launched a new campaign called the Girl Scouts Cookie Care program, allowing cookie fans to order as many as their heart’s desire and have them shipped directly to their homes. “And to ensure girls are getting the tools they need to become our world’s ambitious change-makers, the organization also launched Girl Scouts at Home, a national online platform where all girls and families — not just Girl Scout members — can access free, self-guided activities from GSUSA’s expert programming,” the statement said.

“As the country’s expert on girls, Girl Scouts is uniquely poised to help the millions of girls and their families adapting to a new reality. With Girl Scouts at Home, families everywhere can access self-guided, free activities to keep them engaged and connected to their communities and the larger sisterhood of girls,” the organization said.

If you’re trying to limit your sugar intake these days, you can order boxes and have them delivered to first responders, volunteers, hospitals, and other “essential workers” fighting the spread of the virus. “By buying and donating cookies, Girl Scout Cookie fans are helping sustain our life-changing programs for girls — and bringing joy and comfort to those on the frontlines of this crisis,” Acevedo said.

The organization called its Girl Scout Cookie program the “financial lifeblood” that helps it deliver life-changing programming to 1.7 million girls. Many of us look forward to ordering from our favorite Girl Scout or meet neighborhood kids when they come to you door selling cookies but times have changed and these programs are an awesome way to still support them from a distance.

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Workers In 14 Amazon Warehouses Test Positive For Coronavirus

The virus is impacting 14 of Amazon’s locations prompting concern for workers and customers

As more and more people practice social distancing and look to order from companies like Amazon for essential goods, the company announced that 14 of its locations have employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

In recent days, warehouse workers at two separate sites in New York City (Staten Island and Queens), and workers in Jacksonville, Fla.; Oklahoma City; Brownstown, Mich.; Katy, Tex.; Wallingford, Conn.; and Shepherdsville, Ky., have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Amazon officials. Yesterday, four additional locations in Houston; Edison, New Jersey; Romulus, Michigan; and Shelby Township, Michigan were reported. Amazon operates over 110 warehouses in the US.

Not only is this a problem that could impact deliveries for customers, but lawmakers are calling for additional safety measures for employees who are showing up to work every day in the midst of this pandemic. Amazon responded to claims it wasn’t putting the health and safety of its workers as a number one priority.

“The safety and well-being of Amazon’s employees must be paramount, and given the nature and scope of Amazon’s business, the safety and well-being of the millions of Americans who are Amazon customers are also at stake,” Kristin Lynch, a spokeswoman for Cory Booker, said. Others like Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar echoed their concern.

“Any accusations that we are not properly protecting our employees are simply unfounded,” Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said in a statement. “Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items that they need in this crisis.” Amazon has announced recently they plan to hire another 100,000 workers to keep up with the increased demand.

On Monday, Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, also sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper to discuss specific recommendations for customers who may be concerned about receiving packages from Amazon. One recommendation is to wipe down all packages with a disinfectant. The second (if it contains non-perishable items) is to leave the packages outside for longer than the virus can survive, which is believed to be 24 hours on cardboard. Customers should also open packages outside and throw the boxes away immediately.

The retail giant also stated that it has increased how often its warehouses are being cleaned and changed some of its internal practices to ensure social distancing, like staggering shifts and break times. Some facilities that have reported coronavirus cases have been shut down for deep cleaning and others asked to self-quarantine if they were in contact with someone who has been infected. The company is also giving all of its workers in quarantine two weeks’ paid leave.

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Climate Change Is Making Our Kids Sick–But We Can Do Something About It

Greta Thunberg has been warning us. So has America’s favorite scientist, Bill Nye. Climate change is real and no joke. It’s responsible for some pretty freaky stuff. Some pregnant women are going into early labor because of climate change. Changes have also caused car-size wasp nests to pop up. Sound scary? You bet. Eco-anxiety is a real thing, causing some hopeful parents to reconsider how many children they want have.

If you’re concerned about climate change and its effects, you aren’t alone. We hear and read about climate change on a daily basis, with articles, memes, and videos flooding our social media feeds. Thousands of scientists are adamant that we need to sit up and pay attention. Climate change is a legitimate worry of many, but especially parents, because it’s putting the health of our children at risk.

There’s a lot of talk about climate change, but what does it really mean and how does it impact our kids? According to the World Health Organization, climate change “threatens the essential ingredients of good health — clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter — and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.”

Yes, climate change is disrupting the quality and availability of our most basic needs. Yikes.

The statistics are grim. Between 2030 and 2050, there will be approximately 250,000 deaths due to climate change. Mainly, these deaths will result from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. You might blow these off if you live in a more developed and medically advanced country, but the reality is, we’re not out of the woods. The current pandemic has made us gravely aware of that.

Extreme heat, caused by ongoing, overall temperature increases, make cardiovascular and respiratory issues worse. This isn’t just an issue for the elderly. Because pollen and other airborne allergen levels rise in the heat, asthmatic patients—including children—are triggered. As a mom of two children with asthma, this is a terrifying reality.

Other climate change concerns include natural disasters, rainfall levels, and infection patterns. These can impact crop production, increase the spread of disease, cause mental health issues (due to forcibly moving from a disaster area), and water contamination.

Greta Thunberg Joins Hamburg Climate Protest
Adam Berry/Getty

Climate change isn’t just a physical health issue, I’m learning. The impact on physical health can create issues with emotional and mental health, too. Our children aren’t immune to these fears. My children often know far more than I think they do, and they’re always eavesdropping in on adult conversations. Furthermore, with readily available access to the internet, climate change is no secret. Our kids know that something is up, and it’s something serious.

Dr. Courtney Howard, a physician, professor, and the president of the Canadian Association of the Environment, told Scary Mommy that a range of climate change factors are impacting our children, including wildfires and tick-borne diseases. These have both made the news many times over the past several years, including wildfires in California and the scary truths about living with Lyme disease.

I admit, I didn’t know much about climate change outside of trying to make good choices because somehow, those are supposed to help save Mother Earth. We recycle and re-purpose as much as we can. We use cloth napkins and real dishes, instead of paper and plastic. We shop using reusable tote bags. Isn’t this enough? Are we not doing our part?

Dr. Howard offered some practical steps our families can take. First, she recommends we can decrease greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health by getting from point A and point B by foot, bike, or public transportation. She also recommends moving toward a more plant-based diet. When our electricity comes via clean energy sources like solar and wind, instead of coal-fired power which pollutes the air, we’re making a positive impact.

That’s not all. Most importantly, Dr. Howard says our votes matter. What we do in our day-to-day lives is valuable, but who we vote for is crucial to making more impactful changes. When leaders can influence the laws, we can drastically decrease the damaging outcomes of what’s currently being done, especially by companies, to pollute our air and water.

If you’re feeling grim, you aren’t alone. The more I dug into broadening my understanding of climate change, the more overwhelmed I felt. Are my kids totally screwed? Should I become one of those doomsday preppers, stocking up on canned food and medicine? Dr. Howard offered me some hope. She noted that change-making does work, and including our kids in the discussions gives us “a sense of companionship and empowerment.” Then she added, “Action feels better than anxiety.”

With the 2020 elections coming up in November, I feel more pressed than ever to make sure that those I vote for believe in climate change (you know, real science). And not just someone who believes that climate change is legit, but also understands its impact on us all, and especially our children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions.

Parents have to look beyond the here and now. In the midst of our day-to-day busyness, we need to remember that tomorrow matters, too. Our children deserve to live long, healthy lives, free from the toxic and preventable effects of today’s poor choices.

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Closing Schools For Eight Weeks Or More May Have Greater Impact On Slowing Coronavirus Spread, According To CDC

Experts also stress that parents need to take social distancing seriously

As part of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, schools across the country (and the world) have been closing. While many of them have opted for two- to four-week closures, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced over the weekend that closing schools for eight weeks or more may have more of an impact when it comes to flattening the coronavirus infection curve and preventing widespread infection.

In fact, the government agency points to data finding that “early, short to medium closures do not impact the epi curve of COVID-19 or available health care measures (e.g., hospitalizations)” at all. Closing schools for longer (eight weeks or 20 weeks) may have “some impact” further into community spread, “but that modeling also shows that other mitigation efforts (e.g., hand washing, home isolation) have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures.”

“In other countries, those places who closed schools … have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not,” the CDC also pointed out.

Additionally, short-term closures could even have detrimental effects, negatively impacting older caregivers at home. Other negative repercussions include financial hardship for struggling parents, mental health issues for at-risk children who rely on school counseling, and kids falling behind educationally.

The CDC also pointed out the potential for students to still congregate despite closures, spreading the disease amongst them as well as others — something also addressed by health experts.

“This is not a snow day,” Dr. Asaf Bitton, a primary care physician and executive director of Ariadne Labs, a joint health system innovation center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told CNN.

Bitton urges parents to avoid group playdates and playgrounds.

“We’re in serious, almost unprecedented times right now,” he said. “Children were sent home, businesses closed, and people began working from home, so they would not be exposed to other children and adults who might unknowingly have the coronavirus. When people want to have the kids play with each other or otherwise normally interact, it sort of defeats the purpose.”

So far, kids have mostly been carriers, either showing slight symptoms (cold-like symptoms) or asymptomatic. But because they can pass the virus on to adults easily, the goal is to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“Frankly, I wanted to send out a bit of an alarm … because going out and pretending that life is as usual certainly can’t be recommended at this time,” Bitton said.

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Olive Garden Manager Fired For Accommodating Customer’s Demand For A White Server

Olive Garden manager fired after accommodating racist customer’s demand for a non-black server

A manager at an Olive Garden in Evansville, Indiana has been fired after she accommodated a customer who requested a white server. A white woman entered the Evansville Olive Garden on Saturday, February 29, 2020, and after making racist comments to the hostess, a black woman, she demanded a non-black server for her table, and the manager shockingly complied.

The situation came to light when a fellow diner saw the exchange and took to Facebook to bring awareness to the situation. He noted that the white customer (who appeared to be dining with a partner and children) specifically used the word “colored,” saying in part that she’ll “refuse service from a ‘colored’ server.”

“That couple should’ve been refused service for even asking something like that!!” Evansville local Maxwell Robbins shared online. “It’s disgusting that olive gardens manager would allow that especially with a very diverse staff.”

The news caught the attention of the local NAACP chapter, who worked with Olive Garden to investigate the situation. The two groups finished their investigation on Monday and Meagan Bernstein, a spokeswoman for Olive Garden, said the company has “zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”

“As a result of our investigation, we made the decision to separate with the manager involved,” Bernstein told NBC News. Though the manager that accommodated the racist request has been terminated, the damage was already done.

Amira Donahue, a hostess at the restaurant, told NBC News that when the white woman came into the restaurant, she “made comments about me to my co-workers concerning my race and saying that I should work at a strip club instead. She asked if I’m even black and if I am from here.”

According to Donahue, the racist customer reportedly “screamed” her demand for a non-black server at the manager until the manager complied. In Robbins’ now-viral Facebook post, he originally noted that he saw Donahue crying while she witnessed the incident.

“[Donahue] was in tears and had no one to support her,” Robbins originally wrote in his Facebook post (as excerpted by NBC News), before deleting it and updating it with the news of the manager’s termination. “So I felt if I didn’t write this post, nothing would have happened and she would continue to go to work for a place that she feels uncomfortable at and unwanted at.”

“It’s 2020, not 1920, we should be over this, something should have been done, it should take more than social media to get a problem like this out there,” Donahue told ABC affiliate WEHT WTVW.

WEHT added that the server involved in the incident isn’t emotionally ready to do an interview yet.

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Woman With Coronavirus Symptoms Shares How Doctors Refused To Treat Her

Despite outbreak, woman documents failed attempts to get tested for coronavirus in Seattle

As COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has taken 11 lives — 10 in Washington State — and as the World Health Organization has stated that the virus has already killed about 3.4 percent of confirmed cases around the world — which is a higher death rate than the flu — one woman in Seattle, Washington with COVID-19 symptoms and a history of chronic bronchitis detailed her many failed attempts to get tested for the virus, and her now-viral Twitter thread is a wake up call that getting tested for the virus is close to impossible.

“I live in Seattle, I have all symptoms of COVID-19 and have a history of chronic bronchitis,” Twitter user Into The Brush shared online. “Since I work in a physical therapy clinic with many 65+ patients and those with chronic illnesses, I decided to be responsible and go to get tested. This is how that went.”

First, she called the coronavirus hotline, but after 40 minutes on hold, gave up. Next, the CDC’s website directed her to see a primary care doctor, so she called two doctors and one told her that they didn’t know where to get tested and advised her against getting tested, while the other primary care doctor told her to go to the ER or an urgent care. She went to an urgent care, who told her to call the hospital, so she called the hospital — which did not have any tests for the virus — but they were able to patch her through to the coronavirus hotline.

The coronavirus hotline operator said that she does not “qualify for testing” and that they only administer the test to “those who have been out of the country in the last 14 days, and those who have had contact with one of the few people who have been tested and come up positive.”

Despite having symptoms, despite living in Seattle, despite having a history of bronchitis, she was told that the only way she’d get treated and tested “is if my symptoms get so bad I develop pneumonia or bronchitis…Then I’ll be in the ER and quarantined for several days while waiting for a test and for the results to come back.”

“This is all incredibly frustrating because I am trying to do everything right in a system that punishes moments of ‘weakness like taking days off,” the Twitter user wrote. “It’s also scary to know that I won’t be able to get help until I need life support.”

After the thread went viral, she punctuated her message with a call to action, warning people from calling the hotline “unless you are experiencing all symptoms or have been exposed to a case. Leave the lines open to people who need it most.”

With the president actively spreading misinformation about the virus, we’re not shocked that health care providers don’t know how to advise patients but we’re not wrong in being a little terrified. A novel virus is taking lives in the U.S. and right now, the only course of action for prevention is to wash your hands.

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NYC Subway Operator Denied Family Leave After His Baby Was Stillborn

After his first child was stillborn, a New York City transit worker was denied his paid paternity leave

It’s impossible to adequately capture the heartache of losing a child. It’s a grief subway operator Reinaldo Lopez knows intimately now — in early February, his wife gave birth to a stillborn son. In an instant, he went from being an excited first-time father to one struggling to accept the reality of his loss. And he would soon come to face even more unimaginable sadness of circumstance when his employer, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) refused Lopez’s request for two weeks of paid paternity leave.

Instead of using that time to grieve his firstborn child, Lopez was expected to return to work only three days after the tragedy. “I wasn’t ready to go back to work. Bills need to be paid, but mentally it’s too recent,” he told the New York Daily News. “You’re operating a train through tracks that sometimes are being worked on, there’s people there trying to flag you down. A lot of crazy stuff can happen when your mind is not where it’s supposed to be operating a train.”

This seems like sound logic to us. But then again, so does giving a father a marginal window of time to grieve a devastating loss and comfort his wife. Aware of his own limitations and his family’s needs, Lopez did his research. Per New York state law and the MTA’s new contract with his union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, he should receive two weeks of paid paternity leave.

“We were reading up on the transit rules and all it says about paternal leave is that you just need to have a birth. Nowhere in the literature does it state that you will not be entitled to paternity leave if the baby is stillborn,” said Lopez, who heartbreakingly recounted that there very much was a birth in their case.

In late January, at eight months pregnant, Lopez’s wife Elyse Ortiz stopped feeling her baby kick. By Feb. 1, it was determined their baby no longer had a heartbeat and she had to deliver the child — whom they named Sylas — naturally. “We were devastated,” he said. “You feel like you should get some kind of reward from putting all that effort into a natural birth, which is holding your baby and hearing them cry.”

So, what does the MTA have to say about its decision? According to the Daily News, MTA gave Lopez the standard time off for workers who experience a death in the family: three days. The company also says that it ratified a new contract with Local 100 last month, but the two weeks of paid family leave is reportedly still being negotiated.

MTA spokesman Tim Minton expressed sympathy for Lopez’s loss, going on to say, “The MTA is a compassionate employer that encourages employees to take advantage of the many programs we have for employees who are going through difficult situations.”

They don’t actually detail what those programs are, so it’s hard to pass judgment on whether they make up for the fact that Lopez’s family leave has effectively been revoked. However, it’s important to note that studies have shown fathers who experience stillbirth often experience marked psychological struggles, including anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

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I Didn’t Understand My Dad’s Anxiety Until I Got Diagnosed With It Myself

For most people, sitting in the passenger seat of a car isn’t a big deal. But sadly, it is for me.

My most vivid memories as a preteen involve long, exhausting commutes to the private school my mother had fought hard to send me to. As my younger siblings sat in the backseat of our car, I’d be positioned right next to my father who regularly vented out all of his erratic worries about our financial situation. He felt overwhelmed by the cost of paying for our school, which led to tons of arguments between my parents that bummed me the fuck out. His verbal bursts of fear and panic during those car rides hung thickly in the air, and I held every single one with as much patience and strength as a twelve-year old can.

Nothing I said to my dad during those vulnerable conversations ever appeased him. If anything, trying to make positive light of a situation I didn’t fully understand only upset him more. Little did I know that my father was struggling deeply with something even more challenging than our family’s financial woes. He was living with undiagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and it affected every aspect of his personality.

I spent so many years misunderstanding my dad as he worried his way through life. I was already a kid dealing with an emotionally distant parent who often hid at his office to avoid fighting with my mother. Being raised by a mom with mental health struggles brought on its fair share of traumatic experiences, and I harbored immense resentment towards my dad for not being around more to shield me from them.

When his marital conflicts reached a boiling point, my father would devote those damn car rides to openly spiraling into chronic dread and obsessively panicking about a future scenario of us potentially becoming homeless or going broke. Despite never struggling to the point of financial depletion, his irrational outbursts were enough to make me scared as hell of the subject, and I’ve been living in financial fear ever since.

In my early twenties, my dad was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. When he finally revealed the news to me, I naively believed it couldn’t possibly be a real problem for him. I just assumed that his constant worrying was because he cared more about money than he did for me. I had no clue that anxiety was holding my dad hostage and that behind the scenes, he was fiercely loving me more than he’d ever be able to articulate. I also had no idea that I too would ultimately be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and it would completely transform my relationship with my father for the rest of our lives.

About a year ago, I was sitting across from my therapist in tears as I tried to make sense of the words she had just spoken. I had already been through the emotional fucking ringer as we worked through much of the childhood trauma that was wreaking havoc on my new motherhood journey, and I was ready to find out exactly what kind of mental health diagnosis she had for me. On top of self-harming since I was a teen, I was also experiencing panic attacks on the regular after birthing my daughter. And, much like my dad, unconscious anxiety had been pulsing through my nervous system every day alongside the constant bouts of shame and self-loathing.

As it turns out, I’ve been living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder and accompanying anxiety for many years and didn’t even know it. In those first few moments of receiving my diagnosis, I sat there with my counselor struggling to process how I could exist in such mental pain and not be aware of it. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, my PTSD-related symptoms were standing right in front of me in a connected line that finally made sense. They were all linked to the ongoing traumas of my childhood.

My mental health diagnosis nearly broke me. But it also set me free. Embracing my PTSD and everything that comes with it led me to walk my ass into an emergency room when I was considering suicide. It inspired me to open up to loved ones and friends about my struggles. And it helped my dad and I connect in an entirely new way when he started encouraging me to seek out the same kind of therapy that helped him with his anxiety symptoms. I’m proud to say we even navigated some tough ass conversations about psychiatric medication, which I began successfully taking with his support.

My dad may be one of the reasons why I’ve felt broken for so much of my life. But he’s also a huge reason why I’ve been able to piece myself back together. As I’ve watched him work hard to cope with his disorder, I’ve marveled at his ability to open up to me and share the challenges he faces. His steady willingness to acknowledge when he needed help motivated me to take the risk of leaning on him when I was sinking deeper into the dark waters of my PTSD.

My mental health disorder tends to leave me on high alert, worrying that at any given moment something could go wrong, so the happy moments have often been undermined by a sinking feeling that they won’t work out. I’ve always been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that’s an isolating and shame-inducing place to be. I now realize that this is the broken, fear-based world my father has been stuck living in for far too many years. To know that he’s been a prisoner to his mind for so long breaks my fucking heart.

When I look at my dad now, I no longer see the distant, stressed-out parent who often left me feeling emotionally neglected. I see a sensitive and complicated human being who was doing his damn best with the tools he had at the time. My father has survived so much and is still here, still trying to understand his disorder, and still trying to heal from it. His willingness to do so with courage and awareness speaks volumes to me. I feel for my dad and his journey, because I finally know and empathize with his mental anguish.

Anxiety is a legitimate mental health disorder, and it’s often brought on by childhood trauma. It’s been profoundly empowering to break the cycle of abuse by healing my own anxiety and complex PTSD so that I can raise my children with the love, encouragement, and support I so desperately needed growing up. And I have my father to thank for having the courage to ask for the love, encouragement, and support he so desperately needed too.

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