While the prompt for today is ‘Emotions’, I could easily have titled this entry Everything is up in the air and it’s not much fun. Emotions are raw at the moment, and I’m sure that’s not just the case for me. But what is the case for me, is a huge shift in my emotions that is nothing to do with coronavirus.
I have always been shy and quiet, but this came to a head in 2016, my A2 exam year, when I was finally medicated for my mental health. At the time it was a relief, to finally be taken seriously and be recognised that something wasn’t right. But since then the medication, the very thing keeping me level, has a strange power to become a source of anxiety all of its own. It’s a scary thing to wonder if these mysterious pills have completely stopped having their intended effect, something which I have experienced three or more times in the last four years. Uncertainty is a very difficult thing to deal with, as is the overwhelming sense of failure that comes with the process of coming off one medication to be started on another. Why couldn’t these be the right ones? Why couldn’t I just have managed a bit longer on these? Why can’t I just function without them to begin with?!
Before this blog descends into an all-out war against my brain, mental healthcare options and the pharmaceutical industry, I’ll return to my point.
Before I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I didn’t cry so often. Since being noticeably more anxious, I’ve been liable to being teary, but I’ve been mostly on a level. Now that a global pandemic has come into play, I’ve reached new heights. Coronavirus has stolen my sense of stability; I knew where I was up to before all this came along!
This morning, I made my weekly trip to the supermarket. I was thrilled – my effort to get up earlier than usual was rewarded by not having to queue to enter the shop. However, this was short-lived: as I pushed my trolley between the steel barriers that would usually hold the entry queue, something nearly stopped me in my tracks. My desire not to look completely crazy kept me putting one foot in front of the other, but a large lump formed in my throat. It was nothing really, it shouldn’t have put me so close to tears. Last week in this queueing area, there were taped crosses to stand on in order to adhere to mandatory social distancing. Today I saw that these markers have been made permanent, painted onto the tarmac. Like I said, nothing monumental that should have upset me so deeply, but it pulled me short to be reminded loud and clear that pandemic life is here to stay for a good while yet.
Panic is a feeling I am very familiar with, but it seems to have a hair-trigger now. I’m sure many people are unsettled by the sight of empty shelves, but I walked down an aisle today with large empty spaces on both sides, after seeing fruit and veg stands that were practically bare, and I could feel the panic rising. That’s a phrase that’s near-impossible to translate for the lucky people whose sense of panic always remains sensible and proportionate.
It’s not just empty shelved that are spiking my emotions though. In the case of people flouting social distancing rules, I don’t even know how I feel. I feel everything, and then when I’ve utterly exhausted that, I’m numb until it all floods back, usually on cue with an unwanted news updated.
The world we’re living in is testing many people and pushing them to their limits. But it’s also forcing us to face up to our emotions and work out how to manage them until we can sit comfortably with them again.
My journal has never seen such an enormous daily page count. My head is full and spilling it all in an increasingly scruffy hand is a much better plan than bottling it all up.
And I’m running again, which surprised my mother even more than it surprised me. (“What have you done with the real Caitlin and when is she coming back?”) While it’s an antidote to stir-craziness, it’s a helpful kind of regulator too. I returned from the supermarket utterly demoralised, but after twenty minutes pounding the pavements it all seemed a little less daunting.
Who knew there could actually be a legitimate solution to be gleaned from running away from your problems?