Dispatches from the Pandemic – Day 42

So even during normal times I sink into what I can only describe as anxious sensitivity. It’s not really depression or darkness or the blues. Though I’ve used those words before. It’s more like a heightened sensitivity. It feels chemical, as if something is acting inside me that makes me more reactive, more sensitive to things that normally wouldn’t bother me. I sink into a pit of malaise. My physical environment deteriorates. Putting a towel back on the rack seems like pointless effort. I become upset over little things and every issue becomes an insurmountable hurdle. I care about everything and everything is overwhelming.

As a child, when I got this way I would get butterflies in my stomach. I wouldn’t be able to eat. I would complain of stomach aches. I would be afraid of activities and people.  As I got older I learned to cope. Sometimes I would hole up with a blanket and a book. When I discovered alcohol I found that it would cut me off from the feeling. Not really solve it, the feeling was still there, but I stopped caring and it didn’t matter. Then eventually I found that if I made myself take one little step out and do something fun with people or outdoors the feeling really did go away. But it had to be something that didn’t require thinking. Hiking was great. Or going to dinner. Or a concert. But light not serious. Comedy clubs were best. Or a massage. Or sitting in the park and looking at water.

So now I have to find new ways of coping…perhaps go back to crafts and puzzles. But I’m realizing now as part of the pandemic “aha’s” that the only thing that makes me better is getting out and moving. Whether it’s going to get coffee and meeting a friend or hiking to a mountain lake, I need to get out to reset. Alcohol doesn’t work.