Full disclosure: At the beginning of this pandemic we are now living in, I found myself in the fetal position more times than I care to admit. I would never have imagined weeks later I could actually share ways that brought me into a place where my brain operated somewhat functionally again. But I’m here. And thankfully, so are you…
I clearly remember the night my husband and I sat on the couch reading an email together from our son’s school. It was exactly 5 weeks ago from today. This note informed us that in less than 48 hours my son and his classmates would completely transition to online classes.
I looked at my husband, knowing we had no food in the house and this virus was suddenly far more serious than we both hoped, and told him I needed to go to the grocery early the next morning. He thought it best for us to get up and go at that very moment. So we did.
He was so incredibly correct. I’ve never in my life stood in a grocery store line for as long as we did that night, an hour and a half to be exact. And I will never understand how or why our quaint little Kroger was already out of toilet paper…
We went home, unpacked our groceries, and began our journey through these crazy times with the rest of the world (through online and FaceTime portals only, of course).
The first couple of weeks, my anxiety took over like never before. I couldn’t sleep at night or focus during the day. My head spun with all the worst case scenarios that were certain to befall all the people I love so dearly.
I think the biggest shock to my system was that I had no desire to eat for the first time in my 50 years. My wonderful hubby made sure I did though. He just magically showed up in front of me around meal times with a plate of food, a reassuring smile, and a rather stern “You need to eat.”
Every day became another 24 hours without the sloppy kisses of my precious granddaughter I’ve spent 4 days a week with over the past year since her birth. This is something I’m honestly still struggling greatly with. My heart aches at times.
The other issues plaguing me have thankfully subsided some and hope is beginning to take over. I’m sleeping at night. I can actually put together sentences during the day. And I’m hungry again, more than I would prefer.
FaceTime has allowed me lots of daily time with my granddaughter. She literally carries me around her house, usually parking me in her bookshelf or teepee while she plays close by and babbles away telling me stories I so wish I could understand. I’ve even learned to accept that seeing her cute little mouth widen over her mother’s phone as she comes in for a big kiss will just have to do for now.
So that is where we will start with tips on how to calm our anxiety in this massive crisis:
Feel the feelings. Accept what’s happening around us.
This is a time like we have never seen before. It’s scary. There’s no way around that so we just need to go through it.
When we try to fight our feelings, they just seem to get bigger and louder, don’t they? If we let ourselves sit with our emotions, whether it’s fear, sadness, anger…, this allows us to try to understand what they’re telling us and eventually release them.
The constant panic attacks crippling my body and mind needed to be understood. I realized I needed a plan if we got sick or someone in my daughter’s home ended up with the virus. So I ordered some supplies I thought might help, decided that was all I could do to prepare, and then I signed up for online therapy…
That leads me to my next tip:
I joined an online therapy group where I have a phone appointment once a week with my therapist and unlimited support groups.
There’s a group about self-care in a pandemic. She goes through the same slides at every meeting but I find the most peace from the chat. It’s so refreshing and validating to see people from all over the world dealing with the same crisis.
My therapist has already helped me learn to extend lots of grace to myself in these times. I shared with her my overwhelming guilt about how much time I’m spending in my jammies on the couch watching Netflix. She casually responded with “What’s wrong with that?”
I was floored. But she is so right! Being someone with a dark history of depression, days on the couch in pajamas can be a warning sign. However, we are living in a time with very special circumstances.
It won’t always be like this. For now we must extend ourselves lots of extra love, understanding, and grace.
This opens the door to my final tip:
Keep the Faith
My wonderful new therapist is a Christian. She honestly reminds me of the inspiringly faithful Miss Clara of War Room (the movie) fame. The woman can pray like no one I’ve ever heard before.
I told her some of my biggest personal fears right now. She launched into a prayer that made me bow my head and throw my hands up in the air. And I’m not a hand raiser.
People wonder where is God in all of this and how could he allow this to happen. I have no answer for that nor would I dare try to give one.
But here’s what I do know. God is still here. I have a little wooden cross I got at a beautiful cathedral in London. I hold it and talk to Him often throughout the day.
I actually feel his presence and know He is with me. He’s bringing me peace and I truly believe He can do that for you as well.
We will get through this. One day at a time. That’s our only option right now and I’m slowly coming to grips with it.
When the beautiful day comes and we join together again, we will all be coronavirus survivors.
Whether you lost someone you love, fought through the harrowing symptoms of the disease, or struggled with overwhelming anxiety from the worry we’re all feeling. We are survivors.
As our now famous Kentucky Governor makes us chant together every day at 5pm with sweet Virginia signing over his shoulder. We will get through this. We will get through this together.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. If you’re new here, please subscribe to my free newsletter so we can get to know each other better!
God bless you! This was so beautiful to read! We beat ourselves up so much, and right now is the time to be more gentle with ourselves and each other. This is so comforting to know I am not alone in the struggle to maintain some kind of normalcy in this strange time. Thank you and may God continue to bless and keep you and your family!
You are definitely not alone, Shellie! It is such an incredibly strange time. And yes, we beat ourselves up far too often. I’m really working on that these days ;). Many blessings to you and your family as well! I hope you are all healthy and safe.
Love the article. I would love for my son to connect with a Christian Counselor. GOD IS GOOD!!
God is so good! There are some great Christian counselors out there, Mo. I’m a big believer in therapy. I’ve used it off and on over the years. I hope your son is able to connect with someone.
Candace, I feel you sister! This is definitely some strange times. I did pretty well when I was working everyday. Then three weeks ago my MIL had a massive stroke and we had to take off to IL. She passed away a week later. While there our governor stated that if you have been out of state and return to OH you have to quarantine for two weeks. So, my work decided it was best if I did that. This week will be my last week of that. Right when I took off they started working 12 hour shifts to cut down on so much going in and out so when I return I will be working 12 hours.
I too have been having sleep troubles and my food issues are the exact opposite! I’ve been eating everything that isn’t nailed down. I have gained so much weight it is unreal. I decided last night when I go back to work next week I need to get back on track. I e also spent a lot of time on my couch which doesn’t help either.
Now, my grands are a total different situation. I seriously feel like I am going to go crazy if I don’t see them soon. Noah (9 mo) & Alli (2 yr) are changing so much and they are at my fav age of kids lol. I am so afraid Noah isn’t going to remember me!
I am so glad you are feeling better and finding some things that work for you! I think getting back to work is going to help me a lot!
Love you girl & praying for you always!
Tonya! I had no idea you were going through all this!! I’m so sorry, my friend. In all honesty, I broke down yesterday and let my granddaughter come over. It was amazing but led to a pretty severe panic attack after… I’m feeling better now and will probably start letting her come over more. My daughter is in non-emergency healthcare which is about to be called back to work. Since daycares will be closed a while, I will be watching the little ;). I love you and am praying for you and your people too! Don’t worry about the weight. Everyone will come out of this with some extra pounds I’m sure!
Oh Candace, this is so good and encouraging. You remind me of the quote I have from Charles Spurgeon on my post this week about how because he knows of the gulf of darkness of depression, he was able to give a helpful grip to others who went through it. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable, dear friend. And thank you for these essential tips! Love and blessings of peace and safety to you and your loved ones!
I’ll have to come see that post, Trudy! I’ve been away from the online world for way too long. I’ve missed you! Much love and many blessings to you and yours, my friend.
Candace, thank you seems inadequate. You’ve captured with such love and grace where many of us find ourselves.
You are a hope-giver, friend. I’m so grateful you’ve shared your wisdom here …
Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, Linda. It’s such a tough, unprecedented time we find ourselves at this moment. I’m so grateful to see you again. It’s been too long!
Candace, my beautiful sister so good to hear your “voice”. Somewhere along the way I’ve had more babies, you became a grandma and I seem to have not received your posts. I am so glad to hear you are well and are still walking in victory. Blessings to you!
Hi Tyra! Look at us growing our families ;). Such a gift those little ones are. I think this is my only post this year. That’s probably why you haven’t received anything in a while. It’s been far too long for me to show up around here. I love seeing you again! Many blessings to you, my beautiful sister!!
Oh, Candace, this was so comforting and encouraging to read! I am so glad you have moved beyond those first REALLY hard days and have found peace in these wonderful tips you shared.
I am so with you on all of these things. I just love your transparency, wisdom, and faithfulness. I’m so grateful you use those gifts to speak to all of our anxious hearts.
Hi Christine!! It’s been a rollercoaster, hasn’t it? I’m anxiously awaiting the end of all things coronavirus… I hope you and the people you love have remained safe and healthy, my friend. Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement!