Anxiety, Mitchell Hartley, Unsplash

Masking my anxiety

I have struggled for a few weeks. I know I am having post Covid-19 anxiety (that will at some point be a thing), though it is funny to call post to something that is so present. Maybe I am just having post lock-down anxiety as that is indeed a thing of the past. I have started seeing family, leaving the house, I even had a mini celebration with 4 friends for my birthday, in the terrace and relatively socially distanced. It was tough to book it but I made it and I am happy I did. So why am I so worried? What is making me anxious?

Hard to explain anxiety

Truth is, I can’t explain and at the same time, it sounds so obvious to me that I need to control myself not to be angry or judgemental. I guess I am having the opposite effect of people as they end lock-down. The more relaxed people are, the less relaxed I feel. When we were in lock-down with a few permissions, I was happy to go on play-dates in the park, invite friends for a barbecue. I was excited about finding a new normal, about seeing people again. Now, it feels like all is open so I need to measure my actions.

But there is no problem for someone like you, you are young, you have no pre-conditions, you don’t even have elderly parents in London!

You say

If this was not a clean blog, I would probably call bull** on it. But it is a clean blog, so I just beg to disagree. You just have to read through my testimonial at the time to know that it is not something you want to go through. In fact, maybe I should make it a voice testimony so you can close your eyes while you listen and imagine while you feel the tightness in your chest. That sounds a bit too sadistic but it might fit the purpose to explain where my head it at.

Living without fear

Don’t get me wrong. I have no intention of living in fear. In fact, what I am trying to do is precisely the opposite. It is to live with the knowledge and conscious of each choice to ensure that I have no fear and that the people around me have no fear. I do believe life is too short to stop living, but I also don’t want to make it too short for those I love.

So I make hard choices. And the more I do them the more I feel like the odd one out. And that is what is creating anxiety. It is not the fear of covid-19 itself, but rather the feeling of internal debate about what to do. Wondering on all that we can miss out in the one summer we get to spend in Lisbon for unlimited time. Constantly finding a justification for my choices and feeling like I have to apologise to choose to be more careful than average. Granted, I am working and I don’t have exactly the most flexible time during the week. But I could admittedly be seeing all the people I don’t see all year round. And I constantly question myself – am I really just busy with work or is there something else?

The covid-19 routine

Arguably, I am busy with work but I am also busy with something else. I am busy protecting myself, not just from covid-19 but from a much greater illness. A mental one. I have found a hiding place behind the routine of covid-19 lock-down that has made me feel at PEACE. People have asked me how my birthday was this year and my response was “peaceful”. That is a feeling I don’t often have (and I don’t quite feel it right now as I type), but it was indeed present during the long weekends of lock-down at home more than ever before.

More than anxiety about covid-19 I am truly anxious about losing this new life that I found for myself. One where I naturally want to fit friends and family, but one where I want to fit them in a way that fits me. For many years, I have sought to please other people as a way to achieve my own happiness. No-one made me, it was just the way I thought I would be happy. It took great love for me to find love for myself and feel less guilty about sometimes choosing myself. During lock-down there was barely any guilt. There were pizza nights, bike rides, walks in the park, arts and crafts, puzzles and so much more. And yes, I am having a hard time letting that go. And that has probably nothing to do with covid-19.

The normal approaches

As normal approaches, I feel it is maddening me. Even though I have 6 weeks to go to my scheduled flight to London, I know that I could return to the office even sooner. As that hit me earlier today, I know I am not OK with it. Until there is evidence that a second wave won’t hit us as hard as the first one (and believe me I am crossing my fingers for no waves!), I am not OK to walk into a floor flooded with people as soon as the 2 meter social distancing is lifted (covid-19 related). You know me, I want to be part of the solution, not the problem!

But there is more than this. I am also not keen to waste more than 500 hours commuting a year to see my children 45 minutes a day (not covid-19 related). Also, having found a huge productivity gain working in deeper analysis and projects and benefiting from distance to be able to even more challenge some of the business practices, I find that my job would be less well done 5 days a week in office. Especially when home-schooling is no longer in place. I want to keep relationships, come to the office, interact with my team and people I love working with. But I find the isolation has created a much deeper meaning in these relationships and I want each of them to be different and meaningful. Maybe I am just a dreamer.

Mental health at risk – anxiety looms

Not least importantly, my mental health is unlikely to cope with a world that goes entirely back to normal when there is so much opportunity for growth. After 4 episodes of the podcast (#4 coming next week) I wonder if it is all a dream. I came to a halt as I recorded episode 4 and I wondered where to go next. Are we all talking about re-evaluating our lives and living differently to then just get to September and go back to normal as soon as schools re-open? What will outlast covid-19 lock-down and what will be just a distant memory?

Photo by Mitchell Hartley on Unsplash

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