I have struggled with Generalized and Social Anxiety as well as Agoraphobia for the whole of my adult life. The struggle is compounded by the fact that it is so difficult for people who do not have these issues to understand what is going on and how they can help. Most people seem to think that the isolation and distancing that has been required due to the coronavirus pandemic would be a welcome relief for people with Anxiety Disorder and perhaps for others it has been but for me, these last few weeks truly have been a struggle.
Yes, I am relieved not to have to deal with some of the social aspects of life that I would normally have to endure daily. I haven’t had to walk through a crowd of strangers or wonder if someone person walking behind me is following me or wants to do me harm for weeks. But there’s another part that people seem to forget. Unseen, uncontrollable dangers are the absolute worst thing that a person with Anxiety Disorder could deal with. A virus is unseen therefore, I have no way to completely control whether or not I get it and even worse could not control whether I pass it on to people that I love. It’s not like a bus coming down the street. I can see the bus and avoid (or at least try to avoid) being in its path. I could push my loved ones out of the street or grab them and run to safety. Logically, I know that neither situation is totally within my control but I think the comparison still communicates my point.
I live with my mom who is VERY MUCH in the high-risk category for developing complications and/or dying from COVID-19. She has a myriad of health issues and respiratory problems already. The idea that I could bring an unseen agent into my household that could take my mother’s life and not even know it until it is too late, effectively making me my own mother’s murderer, literally keeps me up at night. Meanwhile, my agoraphobia makes wearing a mask damn near unbearable to the point where I can barely function. I’m not eating like I should, barely sleeping, and most of the time I feel so on edge that I get on my own nerves. I’ve been trying to take walks (away from people) and read and that does help some. Mostly, I am doing what I usually do when I’m highly anxious and that is turtle up and isolate myself. It may not be the best answer but it’s all I know to do.
I am not writing this so that anyone will feel sorry for me. I am writing this in the hopes that someone else who has similar issues might see it and know that they are not the only one. That someone else might know that they are not alone and perhaps if they have developed a way of coping that they might share with the rest of us. To be completely transparent, I’m also writing this to get it off of my chest and perhaps help those of you who know me and have noticed that I haven’t been myself lately, to understand that I am doing the best I can right now. This is not easy but I’m trying.