The anxiety of this quarantine can be summed up in a few words: Xanax, constantly trying to find a new normal, hiding in the bathroom for more than 2 seconds of peace and quiet, and oh yeah, more Xanax. Being trapped in a single space with the same people and nothing changing day after day wears on a person mentally. I know we are all safer staying home and keeping our physical bodies from contracting or spreading a deadly virus but the toll on how this affects mental is health is something I fear we all will struggle for a long time to recover from. Maybe that’s why I’ve found myself sitting in my driveway, begging my heart and mind to get in sync with one another and realize that these feelings of not being able to breathe aren’t from contracting COVID-19 but are rather the all consuming anxiety that has awoken from its slumber and come back with a deep vengeance.
Everywhere I look I am reminded that if I leave my house I may die or cause someone else to die. Every single thing that life once was is no more. I cannot even turn my television on without seeing the words COVID-19 and death toll pop up immediately. Facebook is filled with statistics, warnings, and threats for what will happen if we don’t do exactly as the CDC says. Friends who have strong opinions one way or another post article after article, the comments go on for days of back and forth, and honestly it all feels like a bad dream.
We are told to turn off social media, shut off the tvs, and refrain from anything else that gives us the heavy feeling in our chest, which I do. But days go by and the only interactions I have with the outside world minus my family become something I ache for. Somehow I find Instagram once again downloaded on my phone again for mindless scrolling and the ability to just grasp for any kind of human contact.
Our routines are not really anything more than pure survival mode at this point. We push through online school work, shed a couple tears in the process, get out of the house once a day to drive through a school bus loop to pick up free food, and then coast through the rest of the day. The bickering, the arguing, the constant inconsistency in my children’s lives have caused them to go into a downward spiral. My almost 2 year old has to physically be restrained when someone goes out the front door. He screams “Car! Car!” incessantly until someone holds him back to which he melts into a puddle of tears and tantrum, all because he has not seen anything but the inside of our home or the car in 3 weeks, minus the few times we’ve been able to play in the backyard or go for a walk.
As a woman who has struggled with anxiety most of her adult life, this is the perfect storm for my mental health to take a deep nose dive into a sea of worries and unlikely situations I have dreamed up. And it has done just that. I have found myself grasping at straws trying to figure out how to control what little is left to control right now. I obsessively think about the future and what it holds for our foster child that resides in our home. I write and re-write emails asking for one million updates, only to delete them minutes later because I realize that there are in fact no updates, and I of all people should know that. I sit anxiously by my phone waiting for the special ringer on my phone to go off from placement, hoping that a child will need us and I can distract myself from what is going on in my head right now. I search the words, “invocell” and “success rates IVF” in every search bar imaginable, hoping that I can find some sort of guidance on whether we should spend the $10,000+ on a treatment that may never actually bring us anything but heartache. I question daily what is the best choice to grow our family. If doing fertility treatments are really worth it, if I even want to be pregnant. After I have gone through all worst case scenarios I find that a whole 30 minutes have passed and somehow I still must face the day that lies ahead.
I guess what I’m trying to say I think I understand why solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments a person can be given. Oh and thank goodness for the creators of Xanax, the only thing allowing my brain to chill the heck out right now.