In this story: Mental health / COVID-19 /

"Living with anxiety can be challenging at the best of times without a major virus outbreak"

“This is a scary time for all of us. We’ve found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic filled with uncertainty, fear and change. Uncertainty because COVID-19 is new and no-one seems to know exactly how to deal with it. Fear because people are literally dying and at the moment there is no real cure. Finally change because so much of our daily life has been altered and we’re all now living in some weird dream-like state where all of the things we used to do are now no longer possible. Living with anxiety can be challenging at the best of times without a major virus outbreak. Going out with friends, sitting in coffee shops, even going to work are all things which usually help relieve so much of my daily anxiety. Being connected and having things to do gave me a purpose and a sense of normality. Sitting at home faced with hours of ‘nothingness’ does not sit well with me. I need structure to my day and to be active in order to stop my mind overthinking.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful to be safe and healthy and have a roof over my head during lockdown while many others have it worse than me, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not an incredibly stressful time for people living with mental health conditions. Multiple ‘what if’ questions enter my mind daily; what if my parents get ill, what if the shops run out of food, what if I can’t get my medication, what if the hospitals are full and there’s not enough ventilators, what if this lockdown goes on for months? Many of the symptoms of coronavirus are the same as anxiety. I’ve found myself asking multiple times a day “is this tightness in my chest due to coronavirus or anxiety”? Obsessions and compulsions creep in. Thinking to yourself “wash your hands or your family will die” would usually be thought of as irrational and a sign of OCD but in today’s world it quite literally could be considered a realistic thought.

What do I suggest to help ease anxiety at this turbulent time? Talk to your friends, stay connected. We live in a time where technology gifts us the ability to be interconnected at the touch of a button. Keep going, one day or even one hour at a time. We WILL get through this.”

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