A Long Journey Through Anxiety Gave Me Tools To Cope With Social Distancing!

At time of publication I think current advice is that going for walks is not allowed.  Earlier today it was ok.  Like lots of us my mood fluctuates. 

Ah man, I’m feeling really good now.  I’ve just been sanding and painting the outside of our bathroom window (downstairs, of course), whistling Cliff Richard’s ‘Summer Holiday’.  And now I’m thinking “Why not get my artist’s stuff out and paint something?”  I won’t, but it’s nice to have the option.  

I’m still apprehensive sometimes but that’s nothing new for me.  Mornings can be trying after waking up and then for about an hour, but again that’s nothing new either.  I know that as I wake up I feel better.  Yes, anxiety is normal, shared and temporary.

It really lightens the load knowing that we are standing together, whether it’s having a long chat including that which must not be named by video call with relatives in America, or a smile and a nod with a stranger while out walking with my mum.  We live together even though I’m 37, which is not ideal but we have a great relationship and it’s got to the point where I’d feel like I was deserting her if I moved out.  But still she says “Pete, I can look after myself.”  So when I have money I will get a place of my own. 

Boris said it’s ok to exercise once every day (23rd March) so we do.  Exercise boosts the immune system.  I’m not sure how staunch people are when it comes to staying the fuck home, I’m sure walking with mum in open space is fine, feel free to enlighten me if you feel differently.  That’s why blogs have comments sections.  If I had symptoms of “Boning 19” or whatever it’s called, I’d isolate myself immediately.  

There are going to be times where we are unsure of correct behaviour, but I think the phrase “That which is necessary is legal” applies and will stand up in court.  Google it, might as well.

With all this though, my years of panic attacks and anxiety have prepared me very well.  2003 – 2005 I had awful panic attacks and left the house rarely.  2005 – 2012 I had serious anxiety.  2012 to 2020 my anxiety has been on a slow steady journey to a complete recovery and I’m fine now, but I’ve got used to engaging in only a small modicum of socialising.  One of my mates from Liverpool loves a pub.  Loves bantering, shooting the breeze, being friendly to everyone and anyone.  Thrives on it.  I don’t.  I like chatting about my passions and indulging in them, but given the choice between walking round a museum and going down the pub for the socialising, please hand me a ticket for the former. 

Nice weather for ducks!

Some people get cabin fever and I genuinely feel for them, it must be tough.  Three months or however long this will take is looong…but is it really?  Ask any physicist or Einstein enthusiast, and they will light up when the conversation turns to the nature of time.  It really seems to be able to pass slow and fast simultaneously.  Ask anyone from the previous generation and they will tell you how just yesterday they were nursing their adult children on their tits.  Which gets me thinking about women (or men, must be PC here) who have had children.  Nine months of pregnancy?  Now that must have been tough.  Beautiful, I’m sure, but three months of anything to a mother must feel about a third as daunting as it could be.  Gentlemen, your wives are probably taking this very well.  Ladies, your husbands are probably stepping up to the plate in being strong.  And the kids – do they even care about the lifestyle change?  Of course there’s a disease around and that’s horrible, but the social isolation factor is not necessarily terrible.

The little pleasures in life like birdsong or butterflies seem exceptionally beautiful recently!   

Apologies if you are finding it difficult, I mean no offense.  In fact, I have an email address on this website and would happily chat with you to see if I can help if you are not coping well. 

In 2002, I had a serious mental illness and escaped from a locked psychiatric ward.  I jumped off a bridge.  I spent three months in hospital with a broken back, unable to move from the neck down.  I recovered fully, but THAT was hard.  This, in comparison feels like something not so bad.  I’m not gloating at all, but it seems to help me when I am feeling a touch fearful, usually in the mornings that this feels easy in comparison.  Maybe it would do you some good to remember what you have achieved previously and how you probably have hidden strengths within you that you aren’t aware of yet. 

At home again, just me and the internet – so kinda with the rest of the world!

Isn’t it ironic that the weather is so nice at the moment!

So, a few tips.  I try to offer tips sewn through the text in my blog posts, but here are a few to be clear. 

Learn a musical instrument.  I had a video call violin lesson yesterday, I can play a few things now and it feels really good too!  I honestly feel the musical bit in my brain getting bigger sometimes when I have practised and start getting the song right!

There are many, many people who we can socialise with online.  Because of anxiety issues I’ve been doing this for years.  ANY way of forgetting troubles is good right now and I’ve been chatting with loads of people who I hadn’t before. 

Read a book, I’d recommend anything by Bill Bryson, funny and informative.

Tell jokes, laugh.

Have a project, whether it’s taking responsibility for a vulnerable person, managing your family, doing chores, painting, meditating until you reach Nirvana…anything really.

Have a field day with Google.  Everything that exists in human knowledge is available to read online.

Why not start a blog?  I can tell you that that is fun and rewarding, may get you a good table in a restaurant one day, and really uses time in a productive way. 

I’ve been taking some virtual museum tours too.

Do a puzzle.

Erect a bird feeder, and watch the birds. 

If you are working from home, remember to take mini breaks away from your desk, or wherever you have found to balance your work laptop. 

Try and find one thing to be grateful for every day.

Take it one day at a time.

Apparently Buddha meditated under a tree for two months, I’m sincerely tempted to do that. 

I’ve been painting. It’s a productive, rewarding, fun and colourful time filler, click menu in top right to see my online gallery.

Thank you to Kelly and Marty for a couple of the tips!

We are humans, we can adjust.  Best of luck with everything and thank you for reading. Leave a comment guys! 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Was a really good read pete, I have to tell you though being a mum 9 months of pregnancy is a walk in the park compared to this we are only on the first 24hours and I’m worried how I’m going to get through the next few days let alone weeks, but I’m hoping like pregnancy it flys by.

    Take care Pete and see you soon.

  2. Thanks for commenting Kelly. Thanks for the enlightenment about pregnancy too, learn something new every day I guess!

    I think I genuinely am one of the ones who finds this quite doable, if you want to talk just message me!

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