Women were already tired. Then 2022 happened

These women told CNN they have more to worry about than ever

Thoughts, wants and worries ping around a woman’s mind each day. And this year has added even more challenges to the mix.

CNN asked women how they are handling the curveballs of 2022. Hundreds responded telling us they have more to worry about than ever — and more than 3,500 reacted after Roe v. Wade was overturned. School shootings, inflation, work-life imbalance and the ongoing baby formula shortage are just a few of the themes they focused on.

Here are some of their stories, as told in their own words.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Jenny Malvern 51

Albuquerque, New Mexico

I found my 19-year-old son dead in his bathroom from an accidental overdose of fentanyl on January 26, 2021. He was not an addict. I saw a teenager going through normal teenager things like, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ He was young, experimental and new to antidepressants. This was after months of isolation from the pandemic, layoffs and being cut off from mental health resources. If the pandemic hadn't happened, I'm pretty sure I'd still have Corrado here.

The hardest thing I ever went through was finding my son dead, but my past abortion was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, by far. I'm really mad that they overturned Roe v. Wade. I can't imagine being in the position that I was in about 15 years ago and to not have had that choice. My appendix burst when I was 7 months pregnant with my youngest child, and I found myself pregnant again only a few months later while in an emotionally abusive relationship. It was like I sacrificed the one for the good of the two children I already had.

I worry about the psychological welfare of women like me who must make those impossible choices without any support, like I did. To lose Corrado in a different way later, it really brought back a lot of those emotions again. I still suffer emotionally, especially after the Supreme Court decision. I see it as a slippery slope of other rights that now are in jeopardy.

And one state away from us, 19 children the same age as my boyfriend’s son were gunned down in their school. We've been trying to shield him from all this because he just turned nine. How can I reassure him that he will be OK in school? I’m terrified and tormented by our lack of connection to our collective grief.

My son wasn’t killed in a mass shooting. He died from a mass poisoning, but the grief of a parent is tremendous and universal. That is also true of a woman who, for whatever reason, is in the position to have to make the heartbreaking choice to end her pregnancy. As a woman, these are hard and heavy times full of pain and fear.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the free, confidential helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for referrals and information.

Bernadette Mendoza 41

Glendale, Arizona

Shanice Handley 17

Bartlett, Tennessee

I started this year thinking I could have fun with my friends and get ready for my senior year of high school. Yet, 2022 brings harm and hatred toward women and people who face the same problems.

I remember when my mother got laid off last year and I had to reassure her that we would be OK. I helped her with two babies alongside my teenage sister, tried to keep the house clean and keep stress away. I watched our favorite movies and TV shows with her to distract her from the chaos of our life. If I were the oldest brother, I don't think I would be expected to do as much. Sometimes, I feel like there are tasks that are pushed on me just because I'm the older sister and it's a little difficult and anxiety-inducing.

Here we are, in 2022, where my mother is struggling to get the baby formula that my infant sibling needs because of the shortage. Where abortion is now illegal after six weeks in my home state of Tennessee. Where my mother, my two sisters and I would be forced to give birth. These politicians don't care that as Black women, we are more likely to die giving birth. It doesn't make sense how they care so much about if someone chooses not to give birth, yet they couldn’t care less when children are gunned down in their schools.

It feels almost hopeless. I don't know what's going to happen if, for some reason, I or somebody close to me would need to get an abortion. It’s really hard being in the South right now knowing that a lot of the people I know or come in contact with don't support abortion. People I go to school with post a lot about it and the joy that they have for the ruling is unsettling.

The past few years have been hard and I'm hoping this year, I'll learn how to enjoy my life. But it's tiring to wake up each day and see what horrible things are being enforced to oppress women, especially women of color, trans women and queer women. When are we going to acknowledge the trauma that comes with womanhood and femininity and give our ears to those who experience this trauma?

Since publication on August 20, Tennessee has enacted a law banning abortions at all stages of pregnancy, except when necessary to prevent death or serious health risk.

Kelsey Johnson 31

Darien, Illinois

Jen Burnette 35

Nashua, New Hampshire

Honestly, 2022 is handling me, and it is not handling me nicely. I am as fragile as a piece of fine china. I am cracked, broken and tired. I have this horrible feeling that there is no help in sight. I am a teacher, a parent of two children (ages 6 and 3), a wife, a daughter of older parents and in debt up to my eyeballs. I have always been the head of my household. I run the show. All of it: the housework, finances, appointments, activities, shopping — everything.

My spouse works and gets to come home and "fix things," and do whatever he wants. He grew up with traditional gender roles and it has been hard to break these learned views of women. This year, he’s trying to understand that I can’t do it all, but I feel men don’t know how to realize that the load is unequal. I feel like I am working my butt off and it is invisible.

At school, we’re short-staffed and the kids are completely off the handle. Coming home, I try to keep an organized chaos. I go to bed exhausted every night. I feel like my life's a tornado and I'm just happy I can touch the ground every once in a while.

I’m being more forgetful these days, which I'm normally not. Working mothers have 15,000 tabs open. Your computer starts to slow down sometimes. I've had so many tabs open for so long that the processing speed is slowing down.

Ten years ago, I worked three jobs and we bought a condo. I have been paving our way financially and socially ever since. In 2014, we needed IVF assistance to have children and even though I knew I wasn't the issue, I had to endure a year of horrible tests. But I wouldn't have my beautiful children without it. As an IVF mom, I am heartbroken about the Roe overturning. When do men ever have to worry about their reproductive rights? Men should have to have vasectomies if women can’t have abortions. The United States is falling apart.

Kay Hillmann 36

Coconut Creek, Florida

Tara Willis 53

Helena, Alabama

I expected 2022 to be the total opposite of what it has turned out to be. My husband of 27 years died on December 15, 2021, after seven hard years with his health. We lost everything after his stroke years earlier, including our home in 2017. I was praying for better days. Having a loss of income at a time when the prices of everything from rice to rent are on the rise … It's almost like when you can see the mountaintop and then someone pushes you back down, that's how I feel.

I already penny pinch, but my grocery bill has gone from $150 a week to feed three of us to no less than $250. This summer, we can't afford to do anything but eat and put gas in the car so we can go to work. With some things, you go back the next day and prices are higher. I stopped to pick up Hardee's, my kids’ favorite fast food, and the Frisco burger combo, which had been like $7.89, was $10.39. I told the server to take it off. I cannot pay that price for a hamburger.

We were hoping to buy another home this year. The house we used to own for $200,000 is now selling for $350,000. I feel like we're being priced right out. I just can't wrap my mind around where someone like me would end up in a couple of years if housing prices aren’t under control. I stress a lot and it is not good for my health. I'm not moving forward since I lost my husband; I can't think straight. I'm just like a robot. Day in, day out. Work, sleep, work, sleep.

I'm exhausted thinking about my African American 24-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter having to navigate a world where racism seems to be on the rise. Hate is seen more than love. People are so much quicker to call us derogatory names. I worked in corporate America before I became a police dispatcher and I never felt like I was being overlooked because of my color. But now, I fear for my kids' safety if they were somewhere alone and got caught by a group of Caucasians. I don't want to feel that way. I hate that I feel people are back to looking at us like we are less-than.

Whitney Burdge 43

Boston, Massachusetts

I’ve often worried, ‘What would I do if _______ happened to me and I don’t have anyone to help me through it?’ A lot of attention is given to the struggles of women who have families and children, but women who are single and experiencing loneliness don't often make the news for how they have to cope and juggle.

As a single woman living on my own in a city where I haven't yet found a strong community, there have been moments when I've felt like I was in an ocean without a life raft. I have a good job, but it’s been under threat during the pandemic at times. I worry about rising rent prices and being able to pay by myself. I wondered whether I would get through Covid unscathed and how to keep my mental health in check despite devastating news in the world daily with no strong relationships or friendships actively a part of my daily life.

A few months ago, I did something that was never on my radar. I started a podcast to process my feelings about being a sometimes-lonely woman and to investigate the joy, optimism and strengths that people like me can experience at our ‘table for one.’ The point of this year is I'm owning this moment, this period in my history and women's history. I don't want a revisionist view, only valuing moments when life is effortless.

This year is about embracing those uncomfortable pieces and to really make that a part of my story. There's a lot of empowerment and joy in experiencing loneliness that you can't have otherwise. This time I've had alone has been revealing and insightful and has profoundly changed what I feel like I can contribute to the world and create for my own life.

I auditioned for a choir, and I made it. I started putting out my poetry more and setting up a new website. Ironically, now that I've been single for seven years and put out this podcast about loneliness, I've just started dating the love of my life. A lot of things have been going positively, and I think it changed part of my mentality, which gave me a little push to own my life in whatever form it is right now and celebrate it.