My Covid Experience: A Perspective from A Mom with Health Anxiety.

Got a fear of dying?

Yah, me too. My husband jokes about it, because as far as he’s concerned death is just around the corner for all of us. And really, if you look at the scale of human life, compared to that of life on earth, he’s right.

Seriously though, I have, what some might refer to as, health anxiety. I worry about me dying, my kids dying, someone getting maimed, or in an accident at any moment . . . I think I inherited this; as I can remember, as far back as I have memories, worrying about myself or someone else getting hurt.

I was the kid watching who drank at the party, and watching them drive away, asking my parents who knew if they got home ok. I was the one rescuing a kid or two from a few near-death mishaps, and the teenager who refused to ride in cars with drunk friends. As a pregnant teen, OMG, the anxiety about dying in childbirth or killing the baby, probably gave my first-born anxiety, and the poor kid lived the first 5 years of his life under the toxic haze of a bleach filled home. Nary a virus was going to get us!

This anxiety followed me through my young adulthood and into my 30s and 40s. Adding to my fears, I had two parents die in their early 60s from auto-immune diseases (Scleroderma and Kidney Disease). There was no losing this annoying anxiety anytime soon. Losing both your mom and dad before age 35, can be a huge trigger for a fear of early death and further – you guessed it. – anxiety.

I would have to go as far as to say, my biggest stresses in life revolve around health and death. Will the kids make it home safe from the late-night game? Will the fun on the ATVs and Snowmobiles result in an accident? Will they run into traffic (still, though a ridiculous worry for a mom of teens and adults 🤦🏼‍♀️, a worry nonetheless). Who will die in their sleep? Will it be me? At least if it was, there’d be no more worry (a chirp in from my husband, ha!)

Ok, so now that I have framed for you that I live in a wild (potentially crazy making) state of anxiety, at times, bring us SARS CoV-2 (Covid-19) … and a cocktail of fun times ensures – literally).

Ironically, though I carry some stress, and this looming health anxiety, I rarely get sick. I try to eat well, exercise, meditate, release stress in all the healthy ways by boosting serotonin naturally, and generally work to slow my anxious life down to a, ‘one thing at a time’ mentality, and stay on top of anxiety.  It works for the most part, as my psychological and therapeutic training works wonders on me – thank the universe for that.

Breathing has been my best friend, that and distractions –  and therapy of course; and my friends who serve as therapists also, from time to time. So, needless to say, during the pandemic, I healthfully, and with the help of working from home, and the vaccines, stayed covid free for almost two years. BONUS!

Then Omicron came . . . Is that a transformer or a communicable disease?

Either way, what a game changer that was. I’m the only one in my house working full time at home and with the exception of a distanced visit with a friend – once every 6 months 🤣 – and the occasional hockey game (masked), I don’t interact with many humans. But, alas, I was the first one in my busy, gallivanting family of five’s life, to contract Covid. 🙄 Yay me!

The first thing to hit me was, you got it? OMG, you’re going to die.

My health anxiety has rubbed off on enough humans in my home that even my 13-year-old marched straight up to my room (after I yelled ‘it’s positive’ down to my husband), and said, “mom, I have six words for you: breathe – and repeat after me, ‘l-am-not-going-to-die’.

He walked me through that better than any therapist could have- I’ve taught him well. 🤣

My husband on the other hand, who loves to play up my fears, was the first to tell me, “You look like you’re on your death bed”. And he followed that up with a comment about this experience being “my darkest hour”. 🤦🏼‍♀️.

When I told him the animals (we have two cats and one GSD), won’t even come near me, he asked me if I was aware they could sense death? . . . I’m sure by now you can see why a) my health anxiety hasn’t subsided, and b) why I want to maim my husband (I worry about people getting hurt, but that won’t stop me from hurting people – aka, him) . . . All jokes aside 🥰 . . . I love my husband and no one suffered (for the most part), terribly during this hell of an experience – so far.

One of the first things I read after testing positive was that our province dissuades you from going for a PCR test or following any of the previous recommendations; cool. So I started sticking it out at home.

I loved finding  these sweet and funny words from an article written for ‘Romper’ by the beloved, Amil Naiazi. She writes about her experience with managing all the Covid protocol in her home:

“PCR tests are impossible to get, rapid tests are expensive, and someone on the group chat keeps saying they don’t work anyway. Some schools aren’t keeping track of positive cases, the CDC says if you have Covid you only have to isolate if there’s a new moon, and no matter what happens and who gets sick and how much you don’t think you can handle one single extra thing, you still have to work.

Though I LOL’d big time the first time I read that, it very soon became my reality. Here I was, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, preparing for the late, online start of classes for the winter term, feeling uneasy about a busy semester to boot  – when everything went sideways.

All there was to do was worry about being busy (and the normal, who might die while tobogganing or skating routine), when bam: headache, fever, chills, aches – overcame me. I thought, oh-no, literally, not me?… And then it began.

Two positive tests, three days of symptoms – that go from mild to sucky, to moderate, back to mild and sucky again, and over 150 students to face online this week, as well as prep for a new semester . . . who has time for this? I thought.

Not to mention, students who have already been emailing me, well ahead of the start date with their own anxieties and concerns about the term. I was failing at trying to handle their anxieties and my anxieties, and so I texted my friend (only partly jokingly) that I was doomed. Her straight up reply, that this may suck, but I am not doomed, helped, a little. Pragmatics, they rock.

Do I cancel class? Do I ‘no show’ and sleep (what I desperately needed – not to send one or TEN more emails!). Or, do I power through because I’m not dying – yet – and toss the whole, ‘I’m probably going to die mentality’ because it’s just one more stress, and move on?

And then, what on earth does the rest of the family do? They’ve spent the weekend with me, I’ve prepped their meals, and like a good mother – touched their food (lol), and hugged them, and laughed with them, and so on. There’s no way they don’t have Covid all over them! But alas, the government says: go on about your business.

Though we have all stayed home the last few days, a luxury, though a severe pain in the a$$, the moral of the story (for now), is, I face my anxieties every single day. Sometimes they win, sometimes I do, however, overall – it doesn’t stop me from living life (it sometimes stops my kids and husband from having fun – but that’s for another story), as the stressing provides zero protection from this thing we call life.

All I can say is, I caught the dreaded vid, ‘so what, now what’ (I hope). Carry on.

Though it has thrown me for a loop mentally, emotionally, and physically, it hasn’t pushed me over the edge – yet (there might be a part 2, as I am still sick as I write this).

I am one of the lucky ones, I live a hugely privileged life, with a helpful husband, a couple of fairly – adequate on their own  – kids, and all the creature comforts one would need to manage a deadly virus, at home. I won’t know yet, if powering through the week, responding to over 200 e-mails in three days, and teaching four on-line classes will get me in the end, but for now, this is it, virus, life, ‘the suck’.

With a few days of awkward sleepiness, clumsiness, forgetfulness, and some horrid aches and pains; a fever, and who knows what else to come, I’m hopeful this is the worst, and for that, I thank vaccine science.

No matter what, I’m hopeful that over all that’s about the gist of this. Maybe this will grab hold of us all, ever so lightly, and with some built in immunity, and our added vaccines, we can all move on from Covid – forever.

It’s been a $h!tty 48 hours. But – I’m grateful for my vaccines, I’m grateful for the power to overcome that overwhelming sense that my anxiety will send me to the moon (or the other side – haha); and I’m grateful for managing this tough season with other great bloggers, friends, and my family.

NOTE: If you struggle with anxiety, ADHD, overwhelming thoughts, or any afflictions that cause over sensitivities or stress to just about everything, reach out. We roll – a lot  – through tough times with humour and perseverance around here, however, there are many tools not mentioned here that can help even the worst of us manage the tough stuff! I’ve got this, you’ve got this, let’s go!

Dr. J

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