Hi all. How’s everyone doing?
This is certainly something. I feel like my world is both exactly the same and completely turned upside down. I’m still walking the dog, still having coffee on the couch in the morning, still cross stitching most evenings. But I’m not getting up at 6:00am for school anymore and I’ve had to transition everything to Google Classrooms (which is great but has been really stressful). And I miss my students and colleagues. I care about them and I worry about them and I know that in a lot of cases this is even scarier for them than it is for me.
When this first started, I wasn’t feeling much anxiety. I was still going to work and had my normal routine. But over the past few weeks, with schools closing down, I spent most days with some tightness in my chest and that hot feeling in my throat that you get when you’re about to cry. I wasn’t close to tears, that’s just the feeling. And I was definitely having trouble sleeping at night; I’d be ok until sometime in the early hours of the morning but then I’d wake up to go to the bathroom and that’s when I was in trouble. Even if I wasn’t really thinking, my brain was like oh, hiiiii, we’re awake now and when I got back to bed it either took a while to fall asleep, and/or I was really twitchy and couldn’t stay asleep/fall into a deep sleep. I didn’t anything even close to a full night’s sleep in three weeks and I was, as JVN would say, struggling to function.
I know it’s really hard for a lot of parents who are trying to work from home and help their kids with school and pay rent and protect themselves and their families, and I empathize with that. It must be so hard. But – and I’m going to be brutally honest here – I’m a little jealous. I wish for the distraction of kids so badly sometimes because it’s impossible to get a break from talking and thinking about COVID. My husband and I talk about it(though thankfully we talk about other things just as often). It’s all my family talks about. It’s all my friends talk about. I know that talking about it constantly is a way to process, to connect, so not feel alone. It’s that for me, too. It’s also really difficult for someone with an anxiety disorder. There’s no relief, there’s no way to break the cycle. It’s like an anxiety loop writ large except all of the techniques I’ve learned through therapy and meditation don’t work because I can’t get away from the stimulus. I’m so tired, and scared, and my brain hurts.
I’m scared for the older members of my family. I’m scared for essential workers. I’m scared for my friends, especially those who are healthcare workers and therapists. I’m scared for New York.
And I’m scared for myself. Not that I’ll get sick, though that is scary; the overwhelming fear is that this will be worse than the worst case projections and that it will never feel safe to be pregnant, because it certainly does not right now. I’m scared that things are never going to feel normal again.
And like most of us, I’m grieving. I’m mourning what life was supposed to be like: we were supposed to go see Bird and the brother for spring break. We could have met our good friends’ new baby and I could have made them food and taken out their trash and generally done favors for them. We could have been starting a new chapter of our own lives. I could take a walk in the park without being super alert and aware of other people. I could get on the subway. I miss all of the things I was supposed to get to do and be and experience.
I don’t know how you’re doing, but you’re not alone. I have better days where things feel like they’ve gotten into a routine and I can start to think about what the future might look like, and I have days like today where if I’m not crying I’m about ten seconds from crying and everything is awful. I hope that, wherever you are and whatever kind of day you’re having, that you know you’re not alone.
6 thoughts on “Anxiety in the time of coronavirus”
The feelings you describe – fear, wanting to cry, and mourning – are the same emotions I’ve been describing lately too. I always appreciate your vulnerability and transparency in describing your anxiety.. It’s so comforting to know someone else feels the same way I do.
I agree; knowing other people are going through the same thing is key, and I find it to be one of the things that has helped and continues to help me most.
Thank you for writing this…and for the rest of your site also! I’ve been following for quite some time now and you hit the nail on the head with this one. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately also and my anxiety has spiked. It’s like you always know there are others out there that feel the same, but you feel so alone in your thoughts at the same time. Stay healthy 🙂
Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words. I know exactly how you feel; it’s like you know there are people around you who love and support you but all you want is to be left alone, but then you feel alone. We have to just keep doing the best we can with what we have. Stay safe!
Yes, this has been quite an anxiety-inducing time. I work from home anyway, so this hasn’t changed my schedule much at all. I started posting “tips for today” on my Facebook page for my friends who haven’t worked from home. It has morphed into something much more than that, though. There are tips for managing anxiety and grief, for getting out of your head and coming up for air. I compiled the first month on my blog: https://llmwriting.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/tips-for-these-days/. My plan is to compile them every two weeks.
I think it’s awesome that you’re doing that! I often find that when I’m writing here it helps me to remember strategies I haven’t used it a while, or to remember that I’m almost always better after yoga and I just need to hit the mat. Feel free to link to some of the tips here if you’d like! Community is really important, especially right now.