Living with anxiety is a battle I and thousand of others face every single day. Unless you’ve experienced anxiety, you have no idea how difficult everyday life can be in normal circumstances, nevermind during a global pandemic. None of us knew what was coming, nobody in our lifetime has ever experienced anything like it. People with anxiety play out every single possibility in their minds over and over. We imagine every single possibility, good and bad. When lockdown measures were announced, and social distancing began, it was as if those seemingly far-fetched worries and anxieties had all of a sudden become reality. For me, it was terrifying.
Routines, plans and consistency is what keeps my anxiety at bay. Living in lockdown with anxiety means that all of the routines I thrive under are non-existent. There is no morning routine or evening routine. We are just taking each day as it comes. Which in many ways is lovely, but my mental health is taking a while to adjust.
For those with anxiety, adjusting to life in lockdown is a huge adjustment. I was naive in thinking that it would be as simple as working around the restrictions and limits. However, as a single parent, simple tasks like going to the supermarket for essentials isn’t easy. I have to take the children with me when we need food. Unfortunately the judgemental looks I get from others is enough to make my palms sweat and my heart race. I feel judged, and then the anxiety induced paranoia kicks in. A simple trip to the shop has become one of my many demons.
When we head out for our daily exercise, I find myself repeatedly telling the children to stay close to me. They are always desperate to scoot or bike ahead whilst enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Who can blame them. There is nothing like feeling the sun on your skin and the breeze in your hair when the majority of your day is spent indoors. I worry that if they are ahead of me, even just a little bit, somebody will pass judgement or make comment, or even accuse me of not following the guidelines. I’m aware I’m being irrational. I know that most would just enjoy the sound of children laughing and the sight of a family making the most of the beautiful scenery and nature around us, but there is always a small minority who won’t think about the bigger picture.
Now more than ever, I’m finding the balance between my anxiety and rationally thinking difficult. I think it’s because of the uncertainity around it all. None of us know what to think, what to say or often what to do for the best. We’re all just winging our way through this unprecedented time. That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to show other anxiety sufferers, other single parents, anyone who is struggling during lockdown with anxiety, or without, that it is okay to feel fearful and confused. You may feel like you are the only one struggling with the gravity of the pandemic, but you are not.
Human kindness goes a long way. We all need to be kind to each other right now. We all need to consider the current situation before passing judgement or making comment. Not all of us have a support network, caring neighbours or a traditonal family setup. If you are one of the people who glance and mutter or post passive agressive comments on social media, I ask you to stop and think, just for a moment. Think about what you would do without your support network, family and friends. How would you feel if you were living through lockdown with anxiety. Put yourself in the shoes of those who aren’t able to work around the restrictions so easily. Then perhaps those comments and glances won’t feel necessary.
Usually when I write a mental health related post I try and include coping strategies and/or ideas to help ease how you are feeling. However I’m afraid today I can’t say any more than I have said in previous posts. I’m taking it back to basics. I’m making more time than usual for self-care and allowing myself rest. I am refusing to be hard on myself if the carpet remains unhoovered or the washing up is left until morning. It’s vital we remember what is important and what isn’t if our anxieties are to remain at a consistent level whilst we do what we need to do to stay safe.
Cut yourself some slack. Don’t feel ashamed to admit your struggles like I have above. We are all in this together and that’s why I will now be checking my emails 3-4 times a day in case anybody reading this needs to reach out to somebody who understands. If you need to offload, rant, vent or you just need a friend, my inbox is open and I promise to respond as soon as possible – email@example.com.