- Personal Encounter with Anxious Thoughts
Personal Encounter with Anxious Thoughts
By Didi Gorman
** This piece was written during the Covid-19 lockdown **
I hadn’t noticed the shift in the way I was thinking, at first. Angst had been creeping up on me, but too insidiously to register.
Later, I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
A good few weeks into the lockdown, I realized I was fretting over things that wouldn’t have normally bothered me.
Those gnawing What-ifs.
All sorts of them.
What if my children find remote learning too difficult? What if they go bonkers till school restarts in September?
What if I catch the virus? What if I need some kind of a medical intervention that involves shoving a swab up my nostril or a needle in my vein? I’m swooning just at the thought of this. Yuck.
What if I can’t make a living from writing? The unpredictable world of freelance writing hadn’t been an easy one even before the pandemic. Who knows where it’s heading now?
I used to be able to talk myself out of this kind of mindset. My mechanism was simple and effective: Any activity outside the house, be it as mundane as doing the groceries or popping out to the library, would offer enough distraction and perspective to snap me out of the vicious cycle of anxious thinking.
Let’s linger on the word perspective here.
I’ve lost perspective recently, and with it, the balance and calm it conferred.
After two months of quarantine with little distraction to take my mind off the uncertainty of our ‘new normal,’ such worries now take over. I probably confuse real risks with perceived ones these days.
My stress-relieving method presently consists of catching myself just before these thoughts spiral out of control (easier said than done) and forcing myself to go for a walk.
Get. Out. Of. The. House. Stat!
It works for the most part and especially when the weather is nice, even if only temporarily.
Too bad our new normal provides such a fertile ground for a slew of other What-ifs. Some are not that easily shaken off by a walk outside.
What if the virus mutates and becomes even more aggressive? What if schools stay closed even in September? What if Covid triggers violence in places that have so far been safe? What if it happens here?
It will never happen here, of course not.
These are just irrational fears.
Those apocalyptic novels I’ve been reading lately have clearly clouded my wits. I should know better than to mistake an imaginary piece of literature for a glimpse of what real life might one day look like.