We are all friends here, so let me be real for a minute...positive face aside.
To me, right now, the world is scary. Things feel unsettling, uncertain and crippling. I feel as though this is a fake world, like I’m living within a movie set where nothing is actually true, it's all made up for the drama of the story line.
I’m afraid to touch anything, afraid to take deep breaths… oh and speaking of breaths, I check mine every hour because I read that if you can hold your breath for more than 10 seconds without coughing then you don’t have coronavirus - is this true? I don't know, but when I hold my breath for 20 seconds easily , it puts my mind at ease.
I’m afraid to be around my family, my neighbors, the people I love more than anything in the world. I literally sprayed my mom with a can of Lysol before I hugged her yesterday - because I can’t not hug my mom! Yet even after that hug that I needed so bad I wonder, did I just make a mistake? Am I a carrier and just passed it to her in that split second?
I bounce back and forth from feeling terrified and wanting to curl up in a ball in the closet and cry until it all goes away to remembering that I am in fact the daughter of the most high God and though “ a thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, it will not come near me” (Psalm 91:7). I go from thinking this is the end of everything and I will never be able to see or touch my loved ones again to feeling so deep in my soul that I have the right and authority to stand on all of God’s promises , because “ the Lord will fight for me, I have only to be still” (Exodus14:14)
I am scared. I am confused. I am angry. I am sad.
I think about my business - my baby. All of the hard work I put into growing and building momentum to get my name in front of my ideal clients. I think about the early mornings, late nights, busy weekends… all of the times I was so overwhelmed because I completely overbooked my calendar with clients and photo shoots and all of the “how the heck am I going to pull this off”s. And now I sit here. I look at my calendar at all of the client appointments I’ve had to cancel. I look at the coming months, can I reschedule and book clients for April? May? June? Ever again?
And when the coast is clear and I can confidently put an appointment on the books knowing that stores will be open for me to shop for my clients, will I actually have clients to book? Will they come back? Or has all of the momentum I’ve worked so hard to create completely disappeared?
I know I am not alone in these thoughts. I know you all are feeling it too.
As someone who has struggled so very much in the past with anxiety and major , life- altering panic attacks the severity and uneasiness of this world situation seems and feels magnified. I worry about being so scared that I fall back into the pattern of years ago when everything put me into a physical and mental panic attack. There were days back then (and by back then I mean only 3-4 years ago) when I wouldn’t be able to drive because I would panic so bad that I felt as though I was going to pass out constantly - which made me panic even more. In the worst of it there were days when I couldn’t walk down the driveway or across the kitchen… and going to the grocery store? Forget it , I assumed I would literally die if I did. My knees would get weak, my breath would disappear, and my vision would get dark. As an independent person and business owner it was crippling to say the least. I had to change the way I did business. Instead of a store front, I had an online store… instead of lunch with friends, I kept in touch through Facebook… instead of driving myself a mile to the post office to ship out my sales, my sister would come over and take me there. It was hard. Harder than I could ever explain to someone who has never been through it. Yet on the outside, looking at me you would never, ever guess that during our conversation my mind was in “fight or flight” mode, that when you were inviting me to your party or out for drinks I was instantly trying to come up with a reason why I couldn't go - not because I didn't want to but because I knew for a fact that my body and mind physically couldn't handle it.
Thankfully after an entire year of life like that, I made it through.
Now wait, when I say I made it through let me be clear. It’s not completely gone. There are still times you will see me turn down an invite to places that are a far drive because I still can't bring myself to drive on the freeway… you will still see me super tense walking through a grocery store...you will always hear music or background noise in my office because I can’t handle completely quiet rooms (if we have a business meeting, I’ll always want to meet you at a busy coffeeshop or restaurant rather than at your kitchen table because I don’t know how quiet your house is)… and walking through those long open corridors of the malls, you will always see me close to the wall and trying to distract myself with a phone call.
I constantly deal with anxious thoughts but when I say I finally made it through, I mean I learned how to deal with it. I've shifted the way my mind works. When my heart starts to race and I get those all too common light-headed feelings I pause because I know what it is and I also know that it’s going to go away. There are times when I literally say out loud to myself “you are fine” and then I just keep going.
As terrible as it was going through that difficult time in my life, today I am thankful for it. Today in this scary life situation I find myself waking up and feeling that my chest is tight, and then I start to cough … this always leads to thoughts that I’m infected with the virus and then the thoughts of how I probably infected my family and then my chest gets even tighter...until I remember and I stop… I remember that this tightness is because I’m scared!! And that’s ok. It’s ok that I feel scared because it makes me more cautious and being more cautious is keeping me safe. So I shut down those thoughts and I get out of bed, I make coffee and then I check in with my family and my Cru babes.
I don’t really have a big grand point to this post. I guess I just wanted to get my thoughts out of my head and on “paper”. I wanted to share my feelings in the hope that maybe one of you that is feeling the same way will read this and maybe not feel so alone. Dealing with anxiety can oftentimes make us feel crazy and ashamed, embarrassed to be so scared and afraid to let others glimpse what feels like a weakness within us. I’m here to tell you that those feelings, as real as they are, are also lies. Those aren’t your truth. Your truth is that you are human. You have feelings and emotions. Your truth is that you are powerful. You are a survivor by nature.
Your body creates anxious feelings because it thinks it is protecting you. So love yourself. Comfort yourself when you feel these things. Allow yourself to feel these feelings without being frustrated but also while knowing and understanding that these are just thoughts and not reality.
Also spend time with God. So many people ask me often how I overcame the constant panic attacks and the one single thing I can say is that I spent time with God. Every single morning I sat down on the living room floor, I closed my eyes and I talked to God as if he was a friend sitting next to me. I asked for His help and I told him my thoughts. Then I grabbed His book and I read scripture. When my soul felt calm, I got up and I went about my day and the next morning I did it all over again.
To the person that needs to read this : He is real and He does hear you.
To wrap up this long thought, I want to let each of you know that I am always , ALWAYS here for you. Please do not ever feel odd reaching out to me if you need a pep talk, advice, a friend or even just need to hear someone's voice to know you're not alone. Whether you want someone to tell you its all going to be ok or need help brainstorming a business idea, I'm more than willing to be that girl for you.
I love each of you.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
And thank you for taking the time to read these random thoughts.
Stay safe. Be happy. Wash your hands.