Hello dear readers, old and new! A big thank you and welcome to the newest followers — it gives my heart a happy little skip when I see a new follower notification. 🥰
So, obviously, pandemic.
- We are healthy, thank goodness. Hamilton has very few cases and a low risk of infection, for now anyway.
- James is off school for at least 3 weeks. Olivia’s daycare is also closed.
- Jesse is working from home indefinitely.
- The 2nd point above has made it very hard to find time to write, or read, or shower.
A micro take on things
I feel like so much has been written about the situation already that I don’t necessarily want to add to the storm cloud, but at the same time, I feel like I can’t not mention something that is having such a significant impact globally and in our micro-level day to day lives.
So here’s what I will say, from the perspective of someone with anxiety who is also a nerd about learning about anxiety:
- My social anxiety is being affected by this situation far more than my generalized anxiety.
- By which I mean that I’m not having health anxiety or being kept up at night worrying about the apocalypse.
- This isn’t to say that I don’t worry at all about these things — it’s just that I worry within what I consider a “normal” range (i.e. for a person without anxiety issues who suddenly finds themselves in the midst of a pandemic. Which is obviously not zero anxiety.).
But the social anxiety is flaring up HARD.
- Social distancing instructions are basically encouraging me to give in to my “vices” of hermitude, avoidance, and never leaving the house.
- I work hard to overcome these tendencies every day.
- So in some ways, my mental health issue has now become my superpower, as I won’t get too put out or stir-crazy if I have to lay low for a while.
- BUT it makes me EVEN MORE afraid to go outside AT ALL.
- No, not because of the virus.
BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE
Taking the kids to the park was already something I had to work myself up to and force myself to do.
Taking them for walks was already so hard that I often avoided it unless Jesse was with me (and even then…).
- It feels socially wrong and villainous to leave the house.
- I worry to nearly uncontrollable levels about people judging me for being outside at this time.
- When I do have to go out — to get my prescription refilled, for example, like I will have to do tomorrow, lest my anxious but medicated brain soon become my ANXIOUS AND UNMEDICATED BRAIN — I am paranoid that everyone is watching and judging my every move.
- And being out with the kids is excruciating, because kids have a terrible tendency to cough and snort and sniffle and lick random things and pick their noses and TOUCH EVERYTHING.
- (Either all kids do some variation on these things or I am a terrible parent.)
- We have been invited to visit a friend for a tiny playdate. Should I go? Am I monster if we go? If I decline the invitation, will the hosts think I’m a monster who is worrying about everything? What is the balance between social distancing (good) and social isolation overkill (bad, apparently)?
Oh rational brain, come out come out wherever you are!
Does my rational brain recognize that my social anxiety brain is going nuts? Yes. If I take the time to work through the anxious thoughts, I can counter them. But it’s hard.
- I know I “shouldn’t” care what people think.
- I know we’re all just muddling our way through.
- I know I’m doing just fine in the grand scheme of things.
It just depends whether I have a handle on the irrational anxious thoughts at any given moment.
It’ll be okay
- I have the benefit of knowledge gained in therapy now at least. I know what an anxiety flare-up does to me and I’m being extra diligent about looking after myself.
- That said, I am anticipating that I won’t have access to my weekly sessions with my psychiatrist for a while, and I’m anxious about that.
- The massive, sudden change in our home routine is not easy — anxiety hates unpredictability. Anxiety needs time to adapt.
- But I will be strong. I can see the silver linings — more time with the kiddies and Jesse. This is wonderful.
- And kind of a freebie pass to use my social anxiety superpower for good… right?
- Yeah that last one is a stretch.
And as for blogging?
- With my social anxiety flaring up the way it is, I am finding myself withdrawing and it’s hard to stop.
- I’m having trouble showing up online and interacting with others, and replying to comments and emails and messages from friends.
- Please know that I do read and appreciate everything you send, and that I want to reply and WILL reply as I’m able.
- I just want you guys to know that I’m not ghosting you — I’m just… hermitting you a little. But with great love and affection.
Mind your mind
If my brain is anything to go by, I would say we all need to be very conscious of the mental health impacts of what’s going on in the world. And not just for people who are already predisposed to mental health issues, anxiety or otherwise.
This situation has the potential to turn even the coolest cucumber into a flaming… er… well, I guess just a cucumber on fire.
Running through your fridge screaming. In the night. All night.
Look just be gentle with yourselves during this trying time, and reach out, and check on each other (virtually, of course…), and maybe go read a book on self-compassion.
And remember that we’re all in this together, and these sacrifices are saving lives.
And also eat your cucumbers before they burst into flames.
P.S. Full credit to Jesse for suggesting the title of this post. Love it.