with everything going on, tension is especially high. i was naive enough to think that i could somehow make it not real or just act as i always do in order to avoid the inevitable. my anxiety manifested itself is subtle ways, things i tried hard to ignore. “you’re fine,” i constantly told myself. i avoided the news, scoffed at the people overstocking on supplies, and kept reminding myself that with the proper amount of caution things would be okay. and this sustained me.
the virus itself is very scary, people are dying, and the idea of falling ill was always in the back of my mind. but that’s not where the brunt of the fear came from for me. it was the uncertainty and inability to plan. i’m a planner – i live and die by my google calendar and staying organized. if things are planned and routine is followed, there are less surprises. i’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like i didn’t have control – whether it was over my situation, my emotions, or just everything in general. this manifested later in my life to finding comfort in planning and staying ahead of every situation. letting go is not my strength – anyone who really knows me can attest to that. with people constantly saying this could last weeks or even month makes me wonder when i can make plans again. how many more things will be cancelled?
not only that, but i need to stay busy. constantly having activities to the point of exhaustion is the only way i know how to live. when i get too idle, i spiral, and before i know it i’m falling back into old bad habits and ways of thinking. volleyball meetups getting cancelled, rehearsals for mamma mia being postponed, and not being able to just go out limited my list of things to do. i have other hobbies at home, but it’s human nature to want things we can have, so naturally i’ve been yearning for all the activities in the “outside world.”
left and right shows were closing, community theatre groups were cancelling future shows and auditions – i mean, broadway itself closed down for goodness sake. it’s a small thing, honestly, in comparison to the grand scheme, but it was a source of happiness for me, and so the little seed of fear grew with each new announcement. i kept thinking to myself “mamma mia will find a way. it won’t happen to us.” each time i got an email from one of our producers, i would hold my breath and read it quickly the first time finding key words like, “closing,” “unfortunately,” “this is difficult to announce.” only when i’d done a preparatory scan did i finally breathe and read the email completely.
i was completely on edge, though i didn’t realize it at the time. i was so incredibly in denial that even though my anxious habits started manifesting themselves, i didn’t think i needed to talk about what i was worried about. why express the stress to others when there wasn’t anything concrete yet? the virus won’t come here, it won’t affect my life. over and over again, i used that to calm myself down – but in reality, all i was doing was repressing natural fear and anxiety.
when my body couldn’t take even an ounce more of pressure from all the packed up emotions, the anxiety reared its ugly head in a way i had never experienced before: i had my very first panic attack. now, this is a very silly thing to say, but i had always thought i’d had them before – i quickly learned that experiencing panic and having a panic attack are completely different things. i have never felt so out of control in my life. my hyperventilating wouldn’t stop, no matter how hard i tried to control my breathing – i felt like i couldn’t get any air in. my very cells were shaking, i could feel the tingling and vibrating from my toes, to my fingers, to the tips of my teeth. my limbs became very numb, and i could barely move my own body. the tears wouldn’t stop – causing my nose to clog up, making breathing even more difficult. it was so terrifying – even thinking back on it now makes me tear up.
tony is really a shining light in my life, he carried me to the bed, held me tightly, and kept telling me that it’s going to be okay and to breathe. he stayed so strong for me even though this was a completely new and frightening experience for the both of us. he stayed by my side and reassured me over and over again that he was there and i was going to be okay. honestly, if tony hadn’t been there, i truly wonder if i would have ended up passing out from the shock to my body.
the attack passed, with guidance from my therapist and some fresh air. tony, never letting go of me once, helped me resurface from that dark place i was in. i finally said everything i was thinking and feeling, and i realized just how much i had been holding in these past weeks. he listened and reassured me. i was so incredibly thankful. the catharsis of the panic attack and finally expressing my true feelings really helped me even myself out again. my therapist explained that everyone’s “meniscus is high” so it’s only natural that people are having a harder time coping that normal. uncertainty, especially for someone like me, has been beyond scary.
i debated writing about this, for a while. i stayed away from it, in truth, because i didn’t want to have to relive the attack in any way. a friend of mine put it really well when she said “the worst part is once you have one, you keep feeling worried you’ll have another.” and that’s how it’s been for me the past few days. i’ve been asking tony if he still wants to be with me despite these issues i have, to which he always responds “you’re just having a hard time right now. we’ll get through it together.”
i’m still experiencing a good amount of anxiety. it’s hard without plans, and not being able to really see my friends or family. when mamma mia was officially cancelled, i was sad but now that i knew what to expect i feel a little more in control. i’m working really hard to find the little joys in life and stay strong despite what this isolation and uncertainty is doing to my mental health. today i went on a walk with leah and stopped to admire the flowers that have begun to bloom. i keep telling myself that despite all the cancellations and fear, spring is still coming. i remind myself that i have someone i love to come home to, friends who i can still call, and i’m fortunate to have a job and i’m healthy. those i love most are still safe and sound and that’s the most important thing right now.
i guess i’m just saying that we can get through this. Xx