How to survive anxiety during a Pandemic?
Death has never been on my petrified list; I always knew it was going to happen. I imagined it as a horrific car accident. A quick and terribly dramatic end to my precious time on earth.
Something eventful and hardcore. We live in a pretty high-risk country. I knew it was going to be something, sometime soon. There was always an acceptance and understanding that it’s life and I have never feared dying. I have always been very realistic about the process and have made complete peace with it.
How things have changed. Now I know that there is an invisible virus that is being spread around the world, my own country, my province, Cape Town, Fish Hoek, Silverglades to the very air I breathe. Being addicted to news, I have allowed this virus to devour me.
It’s in my space, so close to home, friends are dying, grandmothers of others, many that are sick right now, battling through it, some at home, some in hospital. You cannot see it, and although so many people have had slight flu-like symptoms, others have been sick and lost their lives, others have lost only their smell and taste. And have existed, it’s behind them.
And then you get me, a GAD sufferer. Simple, generalised anxiety disorder. It means your head paralyses your body, 97% of the time. This is a mental illness and its called through trauma.
A person that cannot fly unless you have an S5 anxiety tablet or five. I get on to a boat and I have already played out when we sink. How I will get myself to safety, where the life jackets are, I even have planned which way I will swim. The snake bite, I know how to make sure I survive, depending on the snake and where I am.
I have prepared myself for everything bad and tragic, it has somehow always played out in my mind, somewhere, sometime in my life. So, I am naturally on high alert already, part of my makeup.
Anxiety doesn’t mean you get scared for a bit and it goes away, it’s like a panic attack on steroids, every single second, minute, and hour of your day until you get the right medication to calm you down. Which sometimes can put you in a semi-coma. You literally catch yourself drooling standing up. Trust me, it’s horrific. Plus then you are expected to get out of your pajamas, keep up appearances and be socially acceptable.
Try to hold onto your job and then function as a normal person.
I try so hard, somedays I am winning and somedays I literally fail. Like a messy dirty pile of dirty laundry. It’s involuntary. I can’t predict the bad days. Imagine I had the landline number of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder I could call and ask what days are going to be good, dodgy, or absolutely shocking. This way I could plan my life, confirm engagements, do laundry, water my garden and even have a diary. But alas, I didn’t get that luck card, I got The Great Gatsby, Blue Valentine, and Dying Young all in one day. And it’s not in a mansion by the sea, it’s in a semidetached house in a suburb with zero views. Dogs that bark 24/7 and kids that jump on the trampoline screaming from 3 pm to 6 pm daily. Even Sunday. Even if it pours.
So, since lockdown, not leaving the house in absolute fear of my life. My anxiety has been relentless. Eating countless peanut butter sandwiches and being motionless at home in utter fear. Chewed all my nails off, my hair is 50 shades of blonde. I dream of a facial and I haven’t been able to go out and buy a single piece of clothing for 10 months, as I cannot breathe with a mask on. First world problems. How grateful I should be. I feel exhausted every day. The stress has been huge, losing an income has been so hard, considering I have earned a salary since the age of 18 years old. Never been unemployed in my life. That blows your sense of purpose right out of towards Jupiter.
I have rekindled my spiritual side, asking for guidance with grace, praying for the quick fix, or at least allowing this to teach me a lesson, clear the world. Cleanse her, shine her up, give her a good dose of love to start all over again. Making the right choices, not being so selfish and entitled. Let nature teach us how to live, be a lot humbler, show more kindness, have gratitude, and finally at be at peace.
I wish I get to see the change. Be apart of making it right, but I could be a COVID -19 stat! That would honestly piss me off. But it would be my destiny. The good news is, I am alive for now, as I write this dribble, that gives me so much joy. Listening to old Solid Gold songs at 3 am while Ty snores and Marley is exploring outside.
So, let’s hope when I walk to the bed, I don’t fall and crack my head open. 😊
Let’s touch on regrets, very quickly. I should have gone to university and become a journalist in my mother’s footsteps, as I would have been a fucking good one. Or a pretty epic News Photographer. Instead, I chose a different path, one I have been proud of, tiny regrets, but nothing massive. I regret I stayed in a marriage for as long as I did. I should have travelled more, and I regret I chickened out in swimming in the Ganges. Knowing what I know today, I would have done breastroke in it!
Life has been simply awesome, 80% happy. Many lessons have been learned. A lot of dark storms but mostly many fairytales.
Thank you to my mother, sister, my beautiful Ty, Georgina, my boy Gizmo and Marley, my friends, you are so loved, you know it. For the others who have touched my heart, that I have shared special moments with, I pray I have shown you love and gratitude. I love you all.
Experiencing the thought of dying, has increased my anxiety. Back to that anxiety on steroids, that one. The Hulk Hogan of anxiety.