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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.

 

Lockdown Songs

The whole western world appears to be in lockdown as I write this, and this errant escriteur, too, is currently embargoed in a house with a wood burner and (thankfully) tonnes of fresh veg and laughter.

I hope that you, Gentle Readers, Kittlings, Comrades and Drekheads, can have similar joys.

The whole notion of ‘social distancing’ is one I am particularly uncomfortable with. Not that I want anyone to get ill – but that messaging is pretty poor. Messaging, language, are the cultural spells we use to weave a world…

So, let me spread this most alternative piece of messaging a comrade staying in the Nordics shared with me:

People across the world, in Holland, Denmark, Italy and beyond have taken to singing to each other from their balconies and barely-open windows, letting each other know that we are not distant; we are never alone.

 

And with some possible inspiration for other choristers out there:

And the best piece of advice I have also been given recently: Be not afraid.

 

 

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