When a World Wide crisis hits the way COVID19 has; I would have predicted a very different response from myself instantly. I would have pictured absolute fear and panic residing within me like years before. I would have pictured anxiety through the roof; struggling to keep myself afloat without all my anchors. I would have pictured a huge relapse and Ben comfortably slotting back at the forefront of my mind, constantly reminding me of all the new things to fear.
I’m not saying these things are far from the reality. They’re not. They’re teetering on the horizon whilst I do everything in my power to keep control. But so far, I’m the one holding the reigns.
I’m going to admit something: I am so thankful for the years of anxiety right now. I know that must sound ridiculous. But it’s true. Without the knowledge I possess now about the brain, our physical response to fear or my own ability to get past Ben, I would be at a complete loss.
The emotions so many people are feeling right now are no stranger to me; the only difference is, Ben causes me to feel this way for irrational reasons. COVID19 is not one of those. It is real, it is devastating and it is something to be feared. But that doesn’t mean we need to let this fear override us; control us or suffocate us. I feel so deeply for those who are experiencing levels of anxiety that they’ve never had before – all I can do is tell you, I’ve been there. But I didn’t stay there, and neither will you.
As many of you will know from previous posts, I had a very difficult time in 2016. My mental health was, in no uncertain terms, a shambles. I became lost, frightened and irrational beyond belief. One of the symptoms I experienced was a ‘cloudy’ chest. I later found out that this was caused from severe tension in my back, causing my spine to be slightly out of line, therefore putting pressure on my upper body. It was an extremely alarming sensation for me, which created the most anxiety I have ever experienced. Fast forward four years, I have currently been feeling this sensation again. I know I’m not unwell, I know it is anxiety creating tension in my body. I have to rationalise this within my own head numerous times a day, I have to find ways to distract myself or use different exercises to try and relax my muscles. It is only from remembering past experiences that I know this feeling won’t last, neither will the uncertainty and unsettled feelings. This may take months, likely in these current circumstances, but it’s not forever.
I don’t want this lockdown to cause a major relapse. I don’t want this lockdown to create new fears I have to fight daily after making a crazy amount of progress over the last year. I don’t want this lockdown to let Ben win.
I want to use this lockdown as a chance to find new strategies and learn even more about the incredible thing that is our minds. I want to use this lockdown as a reminder that the people I love are always there, even if it’s through a phone screen for the time being. I want to use this lockdown as a reminder of the most important things to me – a hug from my mum and dad; a cuddle with my new godchild, a reunion like no other with the people who I’ve laughed and cried with during this awful time.
All we have to do is wait.