Ever since I can remember, I have always suffered from a mild form of anxiety.
This is not to say it has debilitated my day to day life, but, it has been prevalent in most facets of my life.
Whether it is fitting into a new social group or simply taking the final exams in university, some part of me always worried that failure would plague every endeavor I undertook.
Most people would put this down as mere human nature and a fear of underachievement. After all, haven’t we all felt slightly inadequate at some point?
However, in my case, numerous trips to the local hospital and a few rounds of medication later, I actually had a diagnosis which would laud over me as I attempted to navigate the strains of young adulthood.
Fast forward to 2020 and I can calmly say that my mental health has taken numerous strides forward with only few anxious moments peppered across that period. Well, that was until the corona virus came to town.
Generally, I have always been a clean individual who practiced social distancing – even when it was not necessarily a requirement. As a result of this, I mourned the global pandemic from a distance with a reaffirmed confidence that I may never fall prey to the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
Despite my confidence, I spent countless hours pouring through articles gaining as much insight as possible on the illness and how rapidly it was claiming innocent lives.
The local news channels flooded the airwaves with statistical information and endless press conferences all geared to educate the masses on the global position and how we can all band together to tackle this crisis.
Whilst I appreciated all this information, my mind was not ready for the consequential challenges that lay ahead.
With anxiety, one’s fears are triggered by exposure to either unsettling information or an unpleasant situation. Although sometimes attacks may occur without provocation, more often than not, there is always a match that ignites the flames.
In my case, the continual waves of information were the match and my formerly subdued anxiety was all but ready to be ignited.
It all started with a dream.
Like most people, I cannot control what I dream about. Sometimes it could be extremely pleasant, while other times it leaves me wishing I never fell asleep in the fist place.
This particular dream falls in the latter category. Riddled with the virus, I was forced to live through what it would be like if I contracted COVID-19 and eventually succumbed to it.
It is safe to say I woke up drenched in sweat and with a new fear rattling around in my brain.
What if I had caught the virus whilst making a short trip to Walmart to pick up some groceries?
Or maybe the technician who coughed a bit too much whilst repairing my wifi router had infected me?
Unbeknownst to me, my body had already began developing imaginary symptoms to back up my fears.
All of a sudden I had developed a fever and chest pains whereas the previous day I was perfectly healthy. Whenever I lay flat on my bed, I would struggle to breath. Even merely shutting my eyes had me reliving my eventual death.
Safe to say I ended up phoning the hospital and explaining all my symptoms and medical history to a very patient nurse.
Thankfully, she talked me down and explained how the hospital had been flooded with calls from individuals with mental health issues such as mine.
She then went ahead to recommend breathing exercises and frequent check -ins with close friends and family for reassurance.
Even though this did work for me, I cannot help but wonder what I would do if it didn’t.
The main problem is the variant levels of mental health disorders in different persons.
Whereas my anxiety has been under control for numerous years, and could probably be mitigated by mere breathing exercises, what about those who find no solace in holding their breath and counting to ten?
The health departments and respective governments around the world are doing a fantastic job in both controlling the spread of the virus and treating the infected persons.
However, I feel the effect that this pandemic has on mental health patients is being gravely overlooked.
Conditions such as anxiety and depression are staples in the modern day community with almost 11% of persons suffering from them.
Consequently, just as I had the nurse to talk me down, we need to provide a means through with most, if not all, of these people can source help and reassurance during this crisis.
It may not seem like the most pressing matter with all that is happening in the world currently, but, take it from me, we need your help.