Today was the first day since the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak that I had a full-blown panic attack. It happened to be the perfect storm. I didn’t take my second sleep (which is what I call the rest I need after my morning dose of medication) because my husband is working from home, and his presence made me forget or disrupt my routine.
For the past two days, I have been obsessively swallowing thinking or imagining that I am beginning to get a sore throat. That continued today. Later in the morning, I thought I had a fever and asked my husband to feel my forehead. He said, “I don’t think so.” I interpreted that as, “It is possible,” and went to get our digital thermometer. I sat in my recliner and put the tip of the thermometer under my tongue. When it beeped, indicating a reading, I looked, and I had a temperature of 94.8. My husband looked that up and said if that were accurate, I would have hypothermia.
I met with a writer friend on Zoom, and I worked in my COVID-19 diary for twenty minutes. I told her after our writing exercise that I was feeling stressed and anxious. After logging off from Zoom, and saying good-bye to my friend, I went back to sit in my recliner, and that is when I started to panic.
I told my husband, who was busy working at his computer, that I was in the midst of a panic attack. He asked if I knew what had triggered it, and I said, “My temperature.” He went and found our non-digital thermometer and took my temperature for a second time. This time it was 96.6, which is within a healthy range. That didn’t stop the anxiety attack, though.
I realized I was hungry (low blood sugar can cause me to have an anxiety attack). So, I went into the kitchen and ate some hummus and crackers, steamed zucchini, and steamed carrots. After I ate, my husband rubbed my back and put on worship music.
With three things triggering my anxiety: fear of being sick, no second sleep, and allowing myself to get overly hungry, there was no way to break the panic without medication. I took half of my one of my anti-anxiety pills, and we started binge-watching a show we like right now.
Twenty minutes into the show, I started to relax. We watched a full forty-minute episode, and then I fell asleep for an hour. I am happy to report I am now fine and trying to get this day back on track.
Please don’t feel bad if, during this isolation period, you have unproductive, difficult, trying days. It is hard on all of us, mental illness or not. Everyone feels the stress, whether it is financial, health, social, or physical. Challenges are coming at us left and right. As someone on the Internet said, “It is okay, to not be okay.” That’s where I was today, and maybe you are too.