Pandemic anxiety is real, and many people are finding themselves in a place where they need to seek professional help to manage it.
Tears, anxiety, paranoia, and shortness of breath… just a few feelings and emotions I’ve been dealing with these last few weeks. I’ve always been sort of a paranoid person. I’m always expecting the worst to happen. I don’t know why, but my brain just always prepares for the worst and is pleasantly surprised when good things happen. My paranoia doesn’t usually affect my day to day life. But living in what seems like a whole new world these past few months, I’ve seen and felt that change in me.
Recently, I’ve just felt traumatized with life, with what’s its become. I mean really, who hasn’t? Covid-19 is making headlines daily and has been for a while now, and yes, I’m one of those following the craze and keeping up with the news. On top of that, moving five hours away from family and friends back in January, and now going on 63 days of social distancing, it’s been overwhelming to say the least. Walking out to make a simple grocery run and seeing everyone in masks, not making eye contact, no more smiling faces, people avoiding each other at all costs…. it’s saddening and depressing and pandemic anxiety inducing. I’ve been doing grocery pickups for the most part but the few times I’ve had to step into the store I leave there feeling nervous, weird and really sad.
Will Getting Back to Normal Help?
Slowly things are trying to transition back to normalcy; stores and businesses are reopening, dining in is becoming available, and some have even disregarded the mask rule. But the real question lingering in the back of my mind is, “Am I ready to go back to normal?” Am I ready to take my daughter out in public, let her get off at the store, visit with family and friends? Am I ready to put myself out there in the world again? A part of me wants to say YES so badly, but a bigger part of me worries that I’m putting myself and my family in danger. There’s not enough masks, gloves or hand sanitizer to make this feeling go away.
Just this week the sound of a light stand being toppled over upstairs by my headphone wearing husband made me break down. As I was washing dishes I heard a loud bang and I yelled out to my husband, no answer. I yelled again as I ran to the stairs, only to see him sitting at his computer with his soundproof headphones on and picking up the light stand. I felt relieved, sick to my stomach and I walked back to the sink and cried. I cried for a minute and wiped my tears away feeling silly.
He was ok; nothing happened, but all of a sudden fear overtook me. I’m afraid and my tears feel so real. I feel worried all the time now and I feel helpless because I don’t know how to make it stop. This new way of life has made me feel so unprepared and anxious about just living. My husband tries to calm me down and say I’m doing this to myself and I can make it stop. I agree with him, maybe I am responsible for “freaking out” for silly reasons but I don’t know how to make it stop.
Driving out the other day on the highway with my husband and daughter, crossing an interchange, I began to get a flashback of a dream I had forgotten. I started to see this nightmare play in my head in slow motion…. “In my dream I was driving on a high interchange and the road just stopped existing at the highest point and I drove off, falling down to the ground.” Normally dreams don’t really bother me, I’ve had my fair share of crazy dreams. But in that moment in the car with my family I felt scared, I was basically waiting for the road to end and for us to fall off. I felt fear, my eyes started to water, my breath was shaky, and my hands were holding tight to the steering wheel. We obviously drove on that interchange just fine and we made it home without a scratch, but anxiety creeped up on me like never before.
Looking for Help
I’ve commented jokingly to a few friends about needing to see “someone” after being traumatized with the Coronavirus pandemic anxiety. I’ve never been against seeing a counselor or a therapist, but I’ve always been able to manage my stress, my feelings, my life, until now. Now I’m beginning to think that my “joking” is a self defense mechanism. I feel like now more than ever people around the world are going to need to talk to someone. Most of us have never lived through something like this before. Most of us won’t need professional help to get back to normal, but some of us will, and that’s ok. I’m going to be Ok. We’re going to be ok.