Living with Anxiety in Quarantine

Hello from Lockdown 3.0. It does seem that we were just having lockdown 2.0 doesn’t it? Time sure does fly. (insert eye rolling face here).

But alas, there’s nothing we can do when it’s mandated by the government that we stay home. But I do think that it’s my duty to share a little bit about what happens to those who have to live through this with a mental disorder. Lockdown is hard enough as it is, right? Not seeing friends, possibly not getting paid, boredom, etc. But when one has a mental disorder, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it’s even harder. I’ve written several pieces on how it feels to be living in pandemic times with anxiety, but it’s been nearly a year since I first expounded upon this topic (can you believe it?!) and I thought it would be time for both a refresher and a little more in-depth discussion.

I feel the need to try to reach others who might be living like this and let them know they aren’t alone. At the same time I want to inform those who might not be aware of how their friends or family may be suffering. I am really lucky that Tim is very supportive and I can open up to him during ever panic attack or low point. But even with twelve years’ experience helping me with my anxiety, he isn’t always intuitive. And that’s not his fault, it’s just not always apparent. Articulating the anxious thoughts in your brain is often a very difficult task. Luckily, I have years of experience. So here we go, five things that happen when living with anxiety in quarantine.

  1. You feel like this will never end.
    • Part of my anxiety manifests in catastrophizing or as I like to call it, preparing for the worst case scenario. But in the instance of lockdowns, it’s not helpful in the slightest. For example while other’s can go “ugh another 6 weeks in lockdown” I hear “this will be how the REST OF YOUR LIFE IS.” I have constantly worried since day one of lockdown 1.0 that the world will never get back to normal. And while I recognize there are some things that are forever changed, my worry is on the grander scale. Like that this is the end of society as we know it and you will NEVER SEE YOUR FRIENDS AGAIN. That’s literally how my brain works and I’ve been doing it all my life (my therapist and I are working through it), but when things really are going to hell in a hand basket my brain almost says “see. told you so. “
  2. Crowd anxiety takes on a whole new meaning.
    • Amongst the plethora of anxiety related issues I have, one is crowd anxiety. While it’s never been said to me, I think part of this is because I’m not terribly tall. When in a crowd of people I can’t see over their heads and thus I feel trapped leading to a panic attack if I can’t see a clear exit. Normally, when in a crowd I prefer Tim to lead the way so that I have a clear beacon of strength since he can easily see over the crowds in most situations. After months and months of being alone or with only Tim in our house, I find that heading to the grocery store almost becomes overwhelming if there are too many people about. And no, this isn’t me thinking OH SOCIAL DISTANCING YOU’RE TOO CLOSE. It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with , oh dear god, I haven’t seen this many other human beings on a regular basis. So it’s lovely when the one time I’m allowed out leads to anxiety. Sigh.
  3. Any form of the news becomes too much to handle.
    • I can’t handle the ever changing rules and regulations. It seems like there isn’t ever anything good on the news and this past year it’s so much worse. I obviously avoid headlines at all costs and have Tim give me a debrief at the end of the night if there’s anything important developing. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid the whole world all the time if I want to maintain my blog, instagram and stay connected with friends. Sometimes I catch sight of a headline on my feed and it induces a full on panic attack.
  4. Feeling like you didn’t make the most of your “free” time…
    • If you scroll instagram for even five minutes you’ll see tons of people doing lots of things during their lockdown time like learning a new language, starting new hobbies and of course working from home. And I’m here to tell you that I… am one of those people. Well. Not the working from home part, but the rest is true. During the first lockdown I took an online class, honed my quilting skills, and continued to work on my Italian and worked out six days a week. During this lockdown I’ve started a new quilt as a sew along with my friend (follow my insta stories for updates on that), am still working on my Italian, working out a little bit less but still often and of course I’m still trying to blog. All of that would be plenty for a “normal” person but in my head, even those activities aren’t enough. Often at the end of the day, especially a day where I had to grocery shop so I got mentally exhausted, I feel like I did “nothing.” It doesn’t matter how much I did during the day, I feel unproductive. While others will gladly binge an entire season of their favorite show on a lockdown weekend, it makes me anxious just to think of that.
  5. …while simultaneously wanting to do nothing.
    • At the same time, the idea of doing nothing and just watching tv all day sounds absolutely joyful to me. Often when anxiety overwhelms me I just want to curl up on the couch and watch FRIENDS for hours but then I’m back to berating myself for not cleaning the house or doing something “productive.” It’s truly a vicious cycle.

And that’s a small glimpse into my crazy brain. I’m working hard to battle my personal demons, and some days are better than others, but it is truly a day to day struggle. My therapist recently said to be, just focus on getting through one day at a time. That’s really helped me because getting through today sounds a lot easier than focusing on this never ending lockdown. If you’re struggling like me, know you aren’t alone. And if you need more help, visit the CALM website. CALM is the Campaign against Living Miserably and they are doing a good job of trying to help mental health disorder sufferers in the UK.

I’ll be back soon with something happier! I’m thinking a list of arm chair time travel suggestions. Stay tuned!

In the mean time, love from the farm.


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One Comment Add yours

  1. gracexaris says:

    It’s so good that you’re talking about this, because this has been such a hard year for mental health. Hang in there; it sounds like you’re self-aware and doing the best you can!

    Like

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