Coronanxiety (Or, How to Stay Sane When Everything Isn’t)

by thethreepennyguignol

Say, there was a global pandemic going on. Say that was happening. Now, and bear with me here, what if that was happening, you were probably stuck at home trying to do The Right Thing but worried you were somehow doing The Wrong One, and you couldn’t fight this doomed feeling that this is all looking rather like the first act of a post-apocalypse video game where you are an NPC who leaves audio recordings and diary scraps scattered around their trashed apartment for the player character to piece together long after you had gone mad and started living as a small possum in the woods?

But what if, and stick me out here, you happened to have a raging anxiety disorder in the midst of all of this as well? Well, then, friendo, you’re probably on the same boat as me!

What if, huh? Look, I’ve been dithering about writing this article for the last for days, because I really don’t want to sit here all, woe is me, I have been inconvenienced in the name of the safety of people more vulnerable than I am. And I have no intention of doing that; I am not in a demographic for whom the Coronavirus is a severe threat to my health, and I’m grateful for that. Still doesn’t mean I’m not going to wash my fucking hands and stay inside as much as possible, but you get me. And might I suggest, if you’re looking for more blogging on this matter, checking out this blog my beautiful friend is writing about surviving and staying sane through the Czech lockdown and state of emergency?

But I figured it might be helpful for some people out there who are dealing with anxiety on top of everything else to share how I’m handling the world around me suddenly coming up to match my daily panic level. So, here we are.

First and most foremostly, I think the most important thing to remember is how surreal all of this still is to us. It’s natural to feel a spike of anxiety when you’re presented with something that’s so outside of your normal realm of reference. The majority of us have never lived through a pandemic of this size, and certainly not one where the worldwide impact of which is so constantly available to us through every means. It’s easy to get into this spiral of beating yourself up for feeling so unsettled and displaced, but seriously – if ever there was a time when it’s okay to stop and acknowledge that there is some rational basis for the way that you’re feeling, it’s now.

That said, having this access to all of the news about the issue as it unfolds is basically just a round-the-clock invitation to stress yourself out about details that likely will have no impact on what your response is going to be to all of this. I have banned myself from looking at the news apart from twice a day – when I get up and as I make dinner – and tried to keep away from it before bed so I’m not left staring into the dark, chewing on the inside of my mouth, and running headlines like I’m a goddamn copy-editor. You don’t have to be ignorant, but you don’t have to use this as an excuse to constantly press the “induce anxiety” button in your brain when there’s no rational need to.

If you’re in treatment for anxiety, chances are that you’ve figured out some ways to manage your anxiety day-to-day. If you haven’t, now is the time to start. I have a hard time making space for my mental health, especially when it feels like bigger things are going on in the world, but I’ve been framing it as a way to improve my immune system – after all, stress does impact our bodily function, and taking steps to combat it feels like a practical choice I can make to try to work with my immune system at a time when I would very much like it to be working well, thank you so much.

If you’re kind of at a loss as to where to start with managing your anxiety, I would recommend starting with small things that are do-able day-to-day. The app Headspace is free and has some really great, very short (as in, two minutes or less) meditations that are great for beginners, and Yoga with Adriene is my go-to when I feel like something a little more committed. Even though it might feel pointlessly indulgent, try to find time for small kindnesses to yourself – even something like putting on a nice-smelling hand cream or cracking open those fancy biscuits that you’ve been saving for an occasion that never seems to come. If the anxiety is getting seriously overwhelming, I find it useful sometimes to block out specific time when I’m “allowed” to be anxious – it might sound silly, but it’s helpful to be able to tell your brain, we can think about this later, when it tries to throw a big nuclear bomb of concern into your head when you’re trying to do something else.

And I also wanted to let you know that I’m here if you need to talk. I’m just a snark blogger on the internet, but I’m on Twitter and Tumblr, and my DMs are open if you feel like you want someone to talk to about this. I’m also giving away ebook copies of one of my books, Ruthless, for free until the weekend, should you be bored and stuck at home and interested in some lesbian erotic superhero romance. It’s going to be a lot to get through, but I am hopeful that supporting each other is going to be the best way to do it. If all else fails: here’s a picture of me and my lovely little cat. I love you, and I hope you’re taking care of yourself:

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If you liked this article and want to see more stuff like it, please check out my other articles about coping with anxiety right here, as well as my movie blog No But Listen, which I run with another writer and has nothing to do with anxiety but has lots of silly articles that might be a nice distraction. Normally I would ask you to consider donating to my Patreon around this point, but I would love it if, instead, you could donate to the Trussell Fund to support food banks in Britain in this uncertain time.