Stay At Home: Day 6
It’s been fifteen days since the Cult of Luna concert. For us, that’s been a sort of a landmark for us in terms of calculating the risk of infection with this thing. We’ve had other interactions with the outside world since then, but for all intents and purposes, they have been minimal. Contact with co-workers continued for maybe two or three days. On Friday I had to run to Vons to pick up groceries, and on Sunday we had a brief interaction with the staff at a local brewery. Other than that, we’ve been very diligent about staying inside and doing our best to distance. Nevertheless, being someone with a history of social anxiety (and general anxiety) issues has been devastating for the past three weeks or so. Every day feels like a battle between my brain and me, where I have to suss out whether the physiological “symptoms” I’m feeling are a manifestation of my mind or the real thing. Therapy, when I was younger, taught me that the brain is incredibly powerful. Back then I could convince myself that my nausea was real, that I was suffering from a stomach flu or food poisoning, and I would succeed in actually nauseating myself. I wouldn’t throw up, but the feeling could come on quickly and last for what felt like an eternity. It didn’t matter it was only there for 40 minutes at a time during certain class periods, easily explained away as a manifestation of stress. It felt real in all those moments. It was real.
Which makes the past month or so all the more infuriating. I have enough years behind me now to recognize when I’m anxious about something, or when stress/anxiety are manifesting themselves in me physically. But when I was a teenager the worst-case scenario was I’d throw up in front of my classmates. Today the worst-case scenario is I have a deadly disease. Logic has been thrown out the window, and every little tickle in the back of my throat, every hot flash, every random sneeze or cough is terrifying. I hate it. Also, you should see these red patches all of my hands and wrists from furiously washing my hands 50 times a day. They’re fucking gnarly looking.
Jokes aside, I think that’s really the best I can do to grant myself temporary sanity in these trying times. Recognize that the majority of my day is going to be me facing an unending stream of horrible news, identify the hallmark signs of an anxiety attack and do something to distract myself from the panic, then wash my hands thoroughly (don’t touch your face!) and generally make good decisions. Beyond that, it’s out of my control.
Today was one of those days that provided a mixture of panic and calm. I didn’t sleep well, but woke up and felt strong enough to go for a 3.5 mile run through the neighborhood. Without work to preoccupy me I’m starting to settle into a daily regimen of housework and random chores. The batteries on our thermostat started to corrode, which made the thing start going haywire (switching from heat to cool, on to off, et cetera). With some advice from Ian, I was able to use a combination of vinegar and rubbing alcohol to clean out the battery compartment and got the thermostat working again. I did a couple of loads of laundry (outdoor clothes, and sheets). I made BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches for lunch. I sat on the roof for a bit and did some reading and writing. Dinner was basically a cheeseboard with some vegetables, courtesy of Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Santa Monica. They apparently will deliver to our part of town, which is awesome. I attended my first Zoom meeting tonight during an episode of Survivor with the usual Wednesday night TV crew. Now we’re relaxing on the couch trying to watch more dumb TV shows until we tire ourselves out and hopefully sleep through the night. At least for a few hours, world events weren’t at the forefront of my mind. My imagination wasn’t running wild diagnosing myself and looking for symptoms that might not exist. I haven’t checked my temperature in five hours. I need to remind myself — during the extreme unease of my anxiety attacks — that they will pass, that more moments of calm are coming soon, and that everything I’m doing is putting me in the best possible position to outlast this panic. Hopefully, I’ll get to look back on this and laugh. It might leave some scars, but I’ve got enough of those I can trace to dumb decisions. At least these will be dumb decisions/overreactions that wind up being beneficial in some way.
Stay healthy and stay safe.
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