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!