You know what’s been really hard this year? Having a body.
I’m not even joking.
Being a human right now pretty much sucks. You have to put yourself in danger to get your basic needs met. Your very lungs could betray you by bringing the virus into your body. Your brain can betray you–especially those living with anxiety–in the worst way.
I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host said something along the lines of: “Your beliefs create your reality. If you are sick and you believe you’re well, that’s the placebo effect. You actually become well, and it’s more effective than medicines in some cases. The opposite is true as well. If you’re healthy and believe you are sick, that’s called the Nocebo effect; you actually make yourself sick.”
That was something I needed to hear as I’d been struggling recently with whether or not I’d caught Covid-19 at work. I’m religious about wearing my mask–except in the one place I can’t, which is at work. Which is the one place I was exposed to not one, not two, but three people who tested positive.
There’s a cosmic joke here, in that many of the symptoms of the Coronavirus are also symptoms of anxiety. Chest pain, shortness of breath, chills, gastrointestinal issues, fever… yes, anxiety can cause a psychogenic fever. Granted, it’s a low fever, usually 99-100 instead of the 100.4 plus that is a real fever, but still.
Combine that with the beginning of allergy season? Hoo boy.
Long story short is that I recently was convinced that I had contracted Covid-19. I went to CVS, stuck a giant Q-tip up my own nose, sneezed all over it, and waited two days for my results.
Thank the universe for that! But it goes to show that our minds are very powerful. As soon as I got that result, I felt better. Well, except for the normal allergy symptoms. But the rest went away.
What I’m trying to say here is…
While some of us with issues like anxiety disorders don’t have much of a choice, everyone can make an effort to try and keep their cool and try to remain positive about their situation in the world around them. That same podcast host that I mentioned earlier also said something along the lines of: “I’ve noticed I experience more anxiety when I don’t accept the world for what it is. But once I accept it and move to work through it the best I can, the anxiety goes away.”
During that week or so when I wasn’t feeling the greatest? I wasn’t accepting the situation. Anxiety sucked the creativity out of me and honestly I lost the will to do many things — like work out, pay attention to what i was eating, post to instagram… etc. All I wanted to do was escape reality through fantasy books. I was reading voraciously and really enjoyed the stories I was consuming. But it wasn’t healthy.
Did I have a point here?
Don’t be too quick to despair when things seem to be going downhill. I have a friend who is convinced that the worst thing will always happen to her–and spoiler alert, it does. Meanwhile, I have the opposite outlook–and my results are generally better. Even with things that are just luck of the draw.
And when all else fails and you can’t get out of your own head…do what I did. Grab a good (preferably big) book and settle down until the storm passes. Even just the change to your mindset the escape will give you can help your situation immensely!