Panic is Contagious

It’s been hell.

Not even in the sense that COVID-19 is turning the world upside down, because let’s be honest that shit is extra crazy. No, it’s been hell in my head. I’ve never been formally diagnosed with clinical anxiety or depression, but I’ve struggled with both. That makes dealing with the anxiety of this virus hell for me.

I’m sure must people have a vague idea of what I do for a living. I’m not stupid when it comes to understanding stuff like what’s going on, which makes this harder. I started out with a pretty good grasp on it. I’d vacationed and, upon returning, have gotten super sick. I was prepared, to both prevent and manage if I did get sick. The variables I hadn’t counted on are the ones that have been destroying my mind.

Fear of hurting those I Love

I flew over on Thursday to England, still very much okay with my decision to travel because I was prepared. I’ve talked about the things I’ve done to boost my immune system ad nauseam on Twitter. It’s my sickness prevention protocol that I use if there’s even a remote possibility I’ll come down with something.

Things were canceled, which needed to happen. I applaud those who made the decision to put things off or cancel outright to keep participants safe. That’s the right thing to do, always. Other people’s panic started to seep into my brain though. I have a lot of problems with absorbing others feelings and a lot of outside emotions started bombarding me. Slowly, I started to panic, too. My immediate worry was…

What if I brought in some sickness that got those around me killed?

I’d had a runny nose and so many allergy/asthma symptoms running up to leaving. What if those were hidden cues of the virus and I’d managed to infect my friends? I struggled with feeling terrible and scared and nervous and worried. All of these things that pressed down on me. I couldn’t live with myself if I got someone sick because I thought I was exempt and didn’t stay the fuck home like i should’ve.

There were times last week where I was short of breath because I was panicking. Heart palpations, shortness of breath, numb lips, and dizziness. I was obsessively monitoring for any thing. ANYTHING. I felt like I was losing it.

After much hoopla and craziness, I was forced to come home early. No big deal. I hadn’t been worried about myself as I continued to feel fine aside from some increased mental anguish. But that has changed to…

What if I miss something and get sick?

The protocol was to stay off the full 14 days. Self-isolate, monitor temperature, and all symptoms. No work and try to stay in as much as possible. Awesome, I can do that.

Except I can’t stop obsessing. I was checking my temp multiple times a day, deep breathing, and questioning every. Sniffle. Or. Sneeze. I started noticing the dizziness was increasing, the feeling of not being able to breathe, the feeling like the walls were closing in. Panic, I was, AM, panicking. And crying, and stressing, and wondering if I’d miss something so I’d one day wake up struggling to breathe. The awareness of my mortality was acute because when they say “mild case” they mean you weren’t bad enough to need a ventilator/assistance breathing. There’s a lot of space between nothing and a ventilator folks, a fact I’m acutely aware of.

I don’t feel sane right now. I’m a fucking head case. I’m having a panic attack almost daily. I’m on edge and nervous. I’m scared of hurting someone else or myself right now. I’m so fucking tired of being scared and freaked out. I’m tired of crying and wondering when the virus will take me out.

It’s not easy to talk yourself out of the fear. It isn’t for me, at least. I’ve taken to telling others when I’m feeling an attack coming on (or calling someone in the middle of one). Making sure I’m not alone when it feels like things are closing in on me. I’ve started writing again because I need to express some things. Anything to break this anxiety.

This is where I talk about hope. It’s there, but maybe I’m not the person to dish out platitudes. It’ll get worse before it gets better, for sure. I’m just trying to survive the mental hardship and come out on the other side intact. Reaching out is important though and I do hope everyone has a person to touch base with.

Panic is catching. It’s contagious in a way that’ll kill as fast as a disease. I’m doing what I can to survive it.


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      1. David Mei

        Breathe Deep
        Seek Peace

        Easier said than done today. I know the spin of anxiety, the voices inside your head that just won’t shut up.

        I’m lucky, I have a therapist who suggested reading Tara Brach “Radical Acceptance” which lead to her latest book ”Radical Compassion.

        Her books use guided meditation as a means to learn to quiet your mind.
        Additionally I have subscribed to Monique Rhodes “10 minute mind”. Ten minutes of
        Guided meditation that is a great augment to Ms Branch’s books.

        I lost my last job because of anxiety and depression. I was heading towards losing my current job. Learning to slow and lately stop the swirl has been the result of meditation and the support of my family.

        Remember, even with physical distancing you are not alone.

        By the way, your are stunning. This one is nicely arranged and beautifully done. Thank you for
        Your posts.

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  2. Bee

    Yes it is! I’m an empath and feed off other people’s emotions. I’m limiting my twitter and news watching time, preferring just to have conversations with people. That said I worry that I’m saying the wrong thing and feeding others’ panic too.

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  3. E. L. Byrne

    Hugs to you my friend! I know the empath in me struggles to stay free of everyone else’s feelings. I too am staying away fromTwitter more and trying to just stay in my own little bubble. Light and Love!!

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  4. Marie Louise

    What’s happening is completely normal. People that struggle with mental health issues will struggle with the situation a lot, either because of anxiety or isolation and you’re not alone. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. If you ever want to chat to someone when you’re in the middle of this, I’m here – on twitter, somewhere. You’ll get through this and I’m sending you my virtual support ♥

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      Cara Thereon

      Thank you. It’s just been a lot all at once and I’ve spiraled a few times. Making a few changes, I noticed today was much better. I’m glad I was able to write it out.

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  6. elliott

    I just saw this, Cara, and hope like hell you are in a better place. I did think of you when the travel thing was happening and you were overseas. You have an important job and I can not imagine the thoughts you are having. I am lucky in not having to deal with aspect of like and almost feel guilty for not having to do anything. Love you.

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      Cara Thereon

      I’m fine. Off work for another week because I was out of the country. I’ll be fine and am getting into a better place mentally too. Take care of yourself.

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