Categories
anxiety] Covid-19

Covid Anxiety

Painting of Mona Lisa adapted to have her wearing a mask and holding hand sanitizer and toilet rolls
Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

On Monday I had my first ever PCR covid test. I’d had a hacking cough all weekend and because I run writing workshops where many of my participants are over 70 felt it was my duty of care to get checked. out. By Tuesday afternoon I had a text and email to say that I was negative, which I had expected as the hacking cough/sore throat is a yearly event for me as winter approaches. What I did not expect was the level of anxiety I experienced. This is not that any of the procedure is anxiety driven but there is something in that whole thing of “testing for covid” that caused issues in me.

From the moment I went on to the NHS site to book my test I felt myself start to shake and my chest get tighter. Driving to the test site I felt more anxious than I should have. And then from 1.30pm Monday to 2pm Tuesday I was gentle nervous and felt like my life was on hold. Of course some of that was that I had to cancel a workshop because of waiting for the result and keep the other group poised to wait for my results. I couldn’t go to the shops, though I did walk my dog. My husband started to worry that he would not be able to go away for the weekend. There was a lot of tension in our house that only dissipated when I got my negative result in.

Where did this fear come from when deep inside I knew this was just my yearly bug? I think it came from the high levels of anxiety that have been pumped at us from the media about Covid-19. Yes some of the things are wise advice, like washing hands properly which really we should have been doing anyway, but there has been this fear of “what ifs”. And we do hear of the number of deaths from Covid-19, though interestingly in my piece on The Day of The Dead not one of the people I mentioned had died of covid. Suicide seemed to be one of the big ones but I’m not sure how one tests for that.

So yes I am accepting covid is serious or why would the whole world be in lockdown? I am accepting that we need to do the social distancing and the hygiene things. But where does this level of high anxiety come from? I believe it is because we have been told for the last 20+ months to be in fear, not just of covid but of climate change, of terrorists, of Brexit, of economic crash, of poor government choices and more that when we have to face a PCR test it sets of all sorts of fight/flight triggers. I know it did with me.

So what can we do to change this without living in denial? Because denial is just another fight/flight/freeze/fawn response to trauma. And also how do we deal with this without turning to scapegoating some people group? Watch Ridley Road on BBC i-player, listening carefully to the right-wingers and their complaints. All are valid. All could be said today. We cannot let our anxieties come to this.

I do not have the answer at the moment apart from being aware of the feelings that the PCR test brought up in me and working to stay calm. But it has left me with more questions than answers. But maybe one of them is to Choose Joy?

Categories
anticlimax gratitude

Anticlimax

Basingwerk Abbey, Holywell, viewed through the trees on a walk around Holywell taken by Diane Woodrow, author of The Little Yellow Boat
Basingwerk Abbey, Holywell, viewed through the trees on a walk around Holywell taken by me

I have been pondering why so many people I know are feeling low with the coming out of lockdown and with Covid-19 being brought to submission. As I pondered I felt it was because this virus has been an anticlimax. We have all seen or read dystopian stories where there is something cataclysmic that brings an end to civilisation as we know it. Many of us have read about the Great Plagues of Medieval times. The media filled us with fear and dread. But also we experienced something mankind has never experienced – lockdown! Never in the history of mankind have people shut themselves away alone and yet been so connected with the world via TV and internet. Apart but connected or as can feel at times connected but alone.

Unlike the Black Death or the Spanish Flu in the UK we have not experienced losing a high percentage of our population. In fact many of us have not lost a single person in our family here, though most of us do know of someone who has died somewhere. We have not had food shortages due to lack of labourers like in the times of the Bubonic plague. Yes we have had shortages but they have been due to selfish panic buying.

All of us who are comfortably off have noticed little changes – in our income and expenditure, in the way we live our lives, etc. I am sure if we lived in some of the countries we would have endured huge numbers of deaths, struggles for food, for work, for just the things that can be taken for granted in the West.

But if we look back on the headlines for March 2020 we were expecting much more. Something more dystopian. But we didn’t get it. We’ve got change, and big change, but not horrendous change. And especially if one watched the Euro football games things seem to have returned to normal!

I think, when one has been promised much – good or bad – and it doesn’t happen, one is left feeling anticlimaxed.

“The anticlimax is when you’re set up for a climax, such as a spectacular, battle-to-end-all-battles between the hero and the villain. It’s built up more and more until the suspense is extremely exciting, and the reader/viewer can’t wait for it…then the hero kills the villain in one hit, or the villain spontaneously drops dead “

From –
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Anticlimax

And this I believe is what many of us are feeling now. We were given this huge build up. We expected something spectacular. And now it is all over.

I decided to have a bit of a google through all this and found this from Ethical Horse Products on how to deal with Anticlimax in which she says a good way of dealing with anticlimax after an event is to celebrate one’s achievements. How do we do that when we feel like we haven’t actually achieved anything? In fact everything I read talked about preparing for it. How does one prepare for it when one didn’t get the climax first? All we got was the fear and expectation, the suspense.

I think one of the first things to do is acknowledge this is how we are all feeling. I think too it is why we loved the England football game because there was the excitement. There was also the expectation of not winning. So there was a preparedness in the air. Gareth Southgate told his players, and thus the rest of those watching, to not get too excited. So we were excited but prepared.

With the virus our government did not do that. It told us to be scared. To be so afraid that there were some who did not even step outside their front door for months. For most of us we didn’t travel, stayed away from friends and family. Lived with anxiety, albeit for most low-level, but it was there. We were not prepared for the anticlimax. So how do we deal with it?

So once we’ve accepted this is how we feel then we need to, I believe, step into celebrating what we achieved – for some this could just be stepping back to groups they used to go to, for others it will be more major. Then we need to feel gratitude – that we’re still alive, that we can still communicate, that we made it through.

Gratitude works best if one does it on small tangible things. So being grateful for clean water is great but being grateful that you had a conversation with someone in the park is personal and more real. Start each day with five small things you are grateful for. Look back at my post about “Awe in the Ordinary” – which was also posted on Godspace on 6th July.

Walk whether you live in the countryside or a city. Take in the air. Be grateful you can walk. Find awe in the ordinary. Check out other posts on walking and awe. Be kind to yourself when you don’t feel up for it but give yourself that small push.

Anticlimax is something we’ve all experienced and all walked through but I think this time it is hard because it was thrust on us be outside forces – the government – and we need to walk through a bit more squelchy mud before we can stand on firmer ground. But firmer ground is coming! It has to be because the Ox needs to be able to plough well.