And here I thought, I had my illness under control…
I have a chronic condition that undiagnosed. I break out randomly in hives that last sometimes hours, sometimes days and there is no pattern in timing, origin, or progression. When I’m stressed, or tired, the symptoms get worse, as my body is less able to fight.
Any normal life goes on hold – because who wants to go out looking like a poster child for infectious disease?
Fiery waves of itching coupled with swelling and an ugly, wandering rash won’t let me sleep and keeps me scratching until I bleed. Of course, when I get outbreaks, I become more stressed and so the cycle becomes a spiral and just gets worse and worse. I tried anything to stop itching all over like you have little animals crawling under your skin!
And there we are. Infectious disease.
Though the cause of my condition is unknown, it is assumed that my immune system may be compromised. Of course, this puts me in a higher risk group for COVID-19. And while my brain tells me to calm down and that worrying will only make it worse, I can’t help but worry.
It’s especially annoying because, after nine months of failed treatments including antihistamines, diets, blood treatments, cortisone shots, and even gene technology, I was finally doing better through a combination of acupuncture and homeopathy.
However, those are deemed “non-essential medical services” and therefore are closed because of the rules of social distancing.
I was just getting used to getting back to ME. Not the sorry, binge eating, depressive workaholic (my perception of me, not what others think). But worrying is stressful stress, which, you got it, starts up my symptoms.
My mind tells me to calm down. That the flare-ups are not that bad. But then I remember that 1.5 years ago, they also weren’t bad. Then, over the course of a year, it turned to a phase where all-night crying sessions became the norm. And when I think of that, I panic.
I try to rationalize, but it took me a year to find the right acupuncturist – and that is when all of them were still open for business. I tell myself to be patient and take things one step at a time. I try to remember that I am strong and even if my condition does come back in full force, I have handled it before, and I can handle it again.
But honestly, telling myself these things doesn’t help. I can believe them in my mind, but I can’t believe it emotionally. I am on a constant roller coaster of calming myself down, working too much to take my mind off things, and just plain panicking. I even dream that my face is swollen like the elephant man and that I am full of hives and bleeding everywhere because of the scratching…and then I wake up crying only to find out that it was (thank God) a dream.
So, just like the rest of the world, I find myself obsessing about COVID. But I do it in an entirely different way. When I think of all the people suffering from COVID-19 and all the people out of work and starting to struggle financially, I berate myself for being a drama queen. And yet, thinking of how I barely just functioned over the last year and how scared I am to slide back to that state, I can’t help myself.
Coronavirus is affecting my mental wellness. Not through fear of being infected. Not for fear of general supplies, or job security. But for fear of losing my healing progress, fear of having battled a year of my life against this illness only to have it come right back again.
In a way, it’s like COVID has infected my mind.
So, to all of you who are out there and struggling with fear or uncertainty, be it fear of the virus, or fear of the societal effects of social distancing, or just fear of FEAR, I want to say from my personal experience: Even if your feelings don’t make “sense,” what you are feeling is valid. I am trying to accept my emotions surrounding COVID-19 and my condition and our world, in part so that feeling guilty about my own feelings doesn’t add to a downward spiral. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and connect with friends and family digitally. I’m trying to stay safe and take care of myself. And I am once more aware that now is a time to take care of each other.