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COVID Diary: Anxiety, Panic, Moodswings & Bugging Out in a time of Pandemic

Okay, so this is something to talk about. You’re self-isolating, or socially distant, or embargoed or whatever. And you have any of the above; depression, bpd, bipolar, panic, anxiety, moodswings etc.

Oh crap.

A bit of me-time is one of the things I generally use to re-source myself in times of emotional upheaval. (ed. I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum of Warren Ellis’s ‘Full Hermit’ most of the time…) However, that me-time doesn’t generally extend to FULL SOCIAL LOCKDOWN.

There are always the sudden panics and not-so-helpful thoughts, but this time they are, understandably, exacerbated: What happens if my friend gets quarantined where they work!? Will people forget that I exist!? What’s going to happen to my comrades I only ever see in pavement-space!? Will I ever be able to hug my nieces and nephews again!?

Everyone will have their own difficulties at this time being cooped up, and my community of the unmoored souls have their own set of challenges.

1. It’s Okay to Bug-Out.

Srsly. It is. It’s okay to have emotional ups and downs. Especially right now. It’s okay to say that we’re not dealing too well with some of this stuff. It’s okay to say that being cooped-up is difficult. It’s okay to suddenly feel scared, or down, or to get agitated.

The emotions themselves aren’t the problem, in my humble view. It’s how they are expressed, and what they encourage/impact.

2. It’s Okay to Restructure your Day, Routine, Habits, in order to Help.

None of us really know what is going on, or where this will lead – and that can create a emphasis on trying to ‘do normal’. Or to work harder from home, or to maintain whatever your previous habits were. You don’t have to. You can rearrange your daily life to include supportive activities or downtime or whatever it is that will help you be a healthier, fuller, person.

 

Some Helpful Things:

Bugging-out while Bugging-out.

One of the best emergency-tactics for me is just to take myself off to a quiet place when the emotions are tight. This can be done at home, by going to a bedroom/spare room or even just curling up on a sofa in a joint space. Telling those around you, ‘I just need to call Time Out for half an hour’ can be really helpful. You don’t have to explain much more than you will be back (having a time to return is good) if you live with others.

For me, it’s important not to get lost in anxious or depressing thoughts; but allow myself to chill out, feel whatever I’m feeling and sleep for a bit. That’s all okay.

Physicality

Another good practice for me is to focus on other sensations and experiences. I used to have a collection of beach stones and shells that I would just roll through my hands, but I imagine doing the same with a big pot of dried lentils or sand would do the same. Tactile, feeling and touch, activates a different set of senses; ones that have nothing to do with whatever thoughts are going on. I wonder about setting myself a challenge of having a whole range of different, natural objects – like a shaman’s fetish – that could be used… Pine Cones, seeds, scrunchy leaves. Pet a cat or a dog.

Meditation

Hugely helpful to me. Everyday meditation reduces my panic attacks almost to nothing.

Insight Timer app (free). A whole heap of different meditations from breathwork to mindful compassion.

Sound

Again, this works on that whole distraction/different areas of the self working thing. My personal recommendation would be field recordings; snippets of audio clips from every part of the world, recorded by audiophiles and could be anything from walking through a field to the strikes of Big Ben, or the clack of iron railings in Paris, with a lot of local ambient sound artworks, too.

Cities and Memory

World Sounds

 

And that’s it for now, comrades. You’re bits of aeon-old supernovae, which have traveled through the entire universe to get where you are. You got this.

 

COVID Diary: Unexpected Holistics

No one invites tragedy, I’m thinking as I stand in the new-new garden, looking at the sun rising over the quiet city. Or not so quiet. It’s becoming a bird-city. Less contrails in the air and less traffic noise gives me pause to watch a flight of thirty-odd swans arrowing the sky.

And I’m wondering about these crisis points as times when the World (meaning; life, time, history, everything bigger than us), becomes strangely unavoidable. Even when we are so removed from each other, we cannot ignore the larger, and more fundamental realities beyond our job; our habits; our personal aspirations now.

What it means to have a friend, or someone there for you when you may be feeling hungry, sick, or alone.

What it means to have fresh air on our faces.

What this experience must be like for all the rest of life beyond my isolation.

Dolphins returning to Venician canals.

 

COVID Diary: Convenience is King

It’s oddly unsettling amidst a world that is doing what it is doing right now, to find that one of the things unaffected by the New Normal is spam.

# # #

It’s weird, also, reading the feeds and the posts over the last 12 hours or so, and literally being able to see the realization of what that New Normal actually is spread across the blogosphere. Curfews imposed in western countries. Soldiers patrolling streets. Frenzied, and then emptied supermarkets – and those of us fortunate enough to live in the affluent countries of the world have got it lucky.

None of what is happening feels normal, right? Or what most of us expected life to be like. These are strange times, throwing all sorts of curve-balls and readjustments.

But some of those readjustments, have revealed certain joys. Reading about the UK covid mutual-aid network being thrown up, to help communities co-ordinate from the ground up and support the most vulnerable in their area, or the authors doing read-alongs online.

A personal joy to me, has been discovering a cornucopia of convenience stores a few streets across from my new-new home. (ed. I have once again moved into a new-new address, just in time for the lockdown. Which is crazy, living out of boxes while half the world goes mad. How many house moves in the last 6months, ian? Srsly.) The food is healthier, more reliable, and much more interesting than what is on offer by the big chains, from every part of the globe; Islamabad or Dehli, Warsaw or Vilnius, Ankara, Hong Kong or Damascus…

These places know how to do community, I’m thinking as I half-listen to the friendly banter of the store owners. Not just know, they have community. It’s encouraging, and welcoming.

 

# # #

 

In an effort to look beyond the fear and worry, I guess I’m thinking about what different sorts of hope can thrive in a socially- distanced society?

I’m wondering how many creative projects are going to be born in this time of enforced inwardness.

I’m hoping this experience makes us trust each other more…

I’m hoping that a lot more of us take up gardening…

 

xoxo

 

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