I know what you’re all thinking: “Maddie, another article about the virus or mental health?” Yes. Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for you, I’m actually going to be combining the two topics. The virus has been around for a year now, and while it feels like it’s a part of everyday life, it has made me more anxious than I have been before. But I’m unashamed to share my experience because I think opening up will maybe comfort others who feel the same way. So let’s get into it.
I’ve had anxiety for a couple of years now. I’ll be frank about it: it sucks. Worrying about the most random things when they most likely aren’t big deals takes a toll on me, especially if other people aren’t concerned about it. Sometimes I think I’m going crazy and that things aren’t as big of deals as I make them out to be. Part of that is right because that’s a main characteristic of anxiety. Most of the things that induce my panic attacks and uncontrollable anxiety are things that aren’t that bad in hindsight. But COVID-19 is a very real and bad thing. I’ve gotten a lot better about managing my anxiety, but with the virus, I’ve had to face a new challenge I never thought I’d have to deal with.
I’ll admit it, I’m a control freak. The scariest things for me are the unknowns and not having control over external factors in my life. The virus directly contributes to this anxiety. My health is generally good, so I’m not worried about myself at all. But I have no idea if other people have it and are asymptomatic or if I will end up passing it to someone I love because I’m asymptomatic. Even though I wear a mask and always wash my hands, I still can’t really control the virus, especially if other people aren’t being safe. Part of me wants to make everyone wear a mask and just quarantine, but I know I don’t have the power to do that, which makes everything worse. I’ve gone into full-blown panic attacks because I get so worried about it.
These days, most of my anxiety focuses on the virus. I have had about 10 COVID-19 tests because I’m courteous, but also really scared. The worst part is that when it goes away, I’ll still be distrustful out of fear. It’s a topic that I’ve talked about with my therapist for months. I don’t ever remember being so afraid of anything for so long. COVID-19 is my main worry now.
If you have anxiety and it has gotten worse with the virus, know that you are not alone. All of your concerns are valid and you have every right to be scared. With time, the world will heal from this awful pandemic. For now, we will have to deal, but you should know that I think you are strong for battling anxiety, COVID-19 and other responsibilities all at once. We will get through this.