Get Ready for the Reentry Crash

After a period of prolonged stress, it’s normal to feel too drained to do anything

Ashley Abramson
Forge
Published in
5 min readMay 8, 2020

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A photo of an exhausted man laying on a sofa/bed.
Photo: laflor/Getty Images

When my son boarded the school bus for the first time, bounding up the steps with a huge, goofy grin on his face, I felt something I hadn’t expected. It wasn’t joy. It wasn’t sadness. It was the unmistakable sensation of pent-up energy draining from my body.

For months, I had been in high-gear planning mode, picking out supplies and new clothes for my son, making sure he felt ready for kindergarten, emotionally preparing myself and our family for the change ahead. That’s how I typically function in stressful situations: I delegate; I gather resources; I encourage other people.

Then the first day came, and I headed home from the bus stop to sink into the couch — and stay there. I’d been looking forward to having time to myself again, to work uninterrupted and finish projects around the house with no kids around. Instead, I spent the first few weeks of the school year unfocused, uninterested in doing much at all. It took me the better part of September to totally feel like myself again.

Many of us are staring down a similar situation right now. Early on in the pandemic, explains Natalie Dattilo, PhD, a psychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, we faced sudden, acute…

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Ashley Abramson
Forge

Writer-mom hybrid. Health & psychology stories in NYT, WaPo, Allure, Real Simple, & more.