My Coping Mechanisms for Anxiety – COVID-19

I’ve thought about writing this post for a while and have been putting it off and off because sometimes writing is therapeutic and sometimes it exacerbates whatever I’m feeling. If you follow me over on insta or have read any other blog posts regarding mental health you’d be aware that I struggle with PTSD following birth trauma which includes often overwhelming anxiety. I’ve also got OCD tendencies which since the birth have went into overdrive now with the Corona virus.

I’ve scoured the internet, pinterest, instagram and everywhere to try and find as much information as possible about Corona virus without realising it was probably informative but conflicting and making me subconciously feel worse – the instrusive thoughts started getting way too graphic for my liking.

At the minute living in the UK I feel a bit in a limbo there hasn’t really been definitive lockdown although there has been closures and monetary support highlighter. Social distancing has been mentioned but not many people have been adhering to the advice which is sad something so small could help prevent this virus and people are complaining about it. I beleive that if A or myself contract it, we’ll die. My mind finds it difficult to alter this.

If I was to attempt to explain it simply, rather than just being worried about the Corona virus – I see it. My PTSD mind is in a constant state of alert and my thoughts, flashes of imagery see my dude, me or someone we love in a graphic fatal situation, death, hazmats, incubation pods – everything. It’s like a persistent struggle with my own mind.

All of the other people saying people like me are ‘arseholes, idiots and stupid’ were the same people spouting ‘be kind’ memes when the news broke about the unfortunate passing of Caroline Flack – hypocrisy at its finest. Even if someone has health anxiety, OCD or any mental health issues I can entirely empathise with what they may be going through right now.

I’m going to list a few things that I have been focusing on in between the anxiety attacks and flashes – that often help me not always because sometimes anxiety gets the better for a while, I kind of attempt to just ride it out and look for hope it will ease.

1: Step away from your phone and socials!

I’ve honestly been guilty of joining fb groups, seeing twitter feeds – instagram polls and all sorts without realising it where making me feel worse about the whole situation. I’ve set boundaries with myself to not fall into a spiralling hole reading the ca-jillion comments on posts. I like to be informed, but the amount of Xenophobic &/ negative opinions with false facts and conspiracies can do more harm than good. I’m reminding myself that the amount of news coverage and media stories may not equal the size of the threat or the reality right now, in my small world too.

2: Focus on what I can control in the moment.

There’s nothing worse to me than feeling out of control, my heart races I get dizzy the thoughts are overwhelming…argghhh… I remind myself as often as required about what it happening right now that I AM IN CONTROL OF – I can keep Alden and I safe especially in our home, the house is clean – albeit OCD – we can wash our hands. We’re not touching our face. I control what comes in and out of our home. I can control how often I look at the news or feeds on feeds about the pandemic.

3: Use official resources

This ones easy, instead of falling into the hole of believing everything I see I focus on credible sources like the NHS, WHO and PHE only for facts. It is pretty hard to do at the moment in the UK as not everyone is being tested but if I need to look at figures I try not to beat myself up about it, I’ll look. I sometimes fall into the in-depth mortality rates etc which worsens what I’m feeling but then I try to remember step 1 and 2.

4: Self care and Mindfulness

This is a hard one for me to do. As silly as it sounds I’m just not good at taking care of myself, im constantly on edge cant focus or keep still for long because of PTSD. But I have been trying really hard to do little things. Taking Mindful Minutes is what I’ve called them. Reading even if its a page, its better than nothing. Listening to meditative playlists on Spotify. If I can focus on it for 30 seconds thats 30 seconds I’ve not given away to anxiety. I’m going to be evaluating my health, making sure there is an air of calm around me for A’s sake but for mine too.

5: Being grateful, positive & not allowing fear to dominate.

Even though I have ‘issues’ I do find that I am myself a very positive person – I have found that spending time with Alden and social distancing ourselves isn’t always a bad thing. Rather than ruminating on it, thinking it will be this or that. Trying hard to not let fear overwhelm me, it does often but it passes too. I’m actively choosing to be grateful and enjoy spending this time – we’ve done everything from snuggling up watching movies to maths, dancing to music and colouring. Going forward when closures occur I will hopefully be able to put a little routine in place. I’m hopeful that this virus doesnt hit us or our community hard. It’s lovely to see the sense of community behind all the selfishness of some peoples comments there are groups of people offering to drop prescriptions. Our incredible key workers – wow the country wouldnt run without them, from doctors nurses to the supermarkets and pharmacies to the incredible childcare workers helping the others enabling them to get to work. Theyre all incredible. So grateful!

6: Maintaining relationships virtually

Virtual hug anyone? I was upset last night at the thought of an imminent lockdown, being a solo parent is extremely isolating at times. I’m usually a strong, I can do this myself independent kind of gal, but sometimes when you need a hug it’s sad for a while. However I’m keeping my phone and iPad charged I’m making sure I’m going to keep in touch with all our friends and family by text, video call and on social medias. I’ve joined some fantastic groups on facebook, which I’ll link below that have inspired thousands of people with activities, craft idea, things to do with children or have a laugh with fellow parents riding this.

7: Keeping the bigger picture in mind

This may seem like the easiest step to take but it does become foggy seeing the mass hysteria, bulk buying, crazy rather irrational behaviours its difficult to see the bigger picture. For all the bad, I’ve seen so much goodness in the world whether it be volunteers offering to support the elderly and vulnerable to whole entire communities and countries coming together. I mentally or out loud sometimes tell myself that Everything happens for a reason, what is happening now is taking us to a better place. The world, the universe is putting things in place for the greater good. We will come out the end together, for now we persist and humankind will survive, grow and emerge from this hopefully in a kinder calmer world both in nature and humanity.

I hope this helps anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or scared or just needs some guidance in what to do right now! It’s helped me right it down I will be referring back to my own steps often, trust me!

I really hope everyone stays safe, understands the importance of social distancing, hygiene etc and we #flattenthecurve – sending positive thoughts to everyone and virtual hugs all around ✌🏻

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