Life in lockdown: How I manage panic and anxiety

20 April 2020

It has been more than a month since Metro Manila was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading further. Since then, every day has been a roller coaster of emotions for me and I found it difficult to cope at first. I am still finding it hard to cope now but at least I have gotten a little better at it.

On Thursday night of my first week back, I had a severe case of diarrhea. By 2 AM, I was feeling too weak and desperate to be on IV. In my mind, I was also freaking out because diarrhea is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. We don't have a car and because of EHQ we couldn't call a cab nor a Grab. Thank God for LGUs that work, because all it took was one phone call to our Barangay Hall for an ambulance to pick me up and bring me to the hospital. I was not exhibiting any other COVID-19 symptoms so after triage and consultation at a makeshift station just outside the Emergency Room, I was prescribed medication and sent home.

The next night, I woke up with a start at 3 AM, gasping for breath. My chest felt too heavy and I felt like I had to consciously remind myself to breathe each time. I didn't sleep a wink after that, and when morning came I went out to the garden for fresh air and a little sunshine.

I called the ER and spoke with the same nurse who assisted me the night before. Again, I didn't have fever nor sore throat nor cough. He confirmed what I already knew, that it could be GERD triggered by anxiety. I spiraled because I was too anxious about getting sick that I ended up sick.

What's astounding is that when I posted about it, I got a lot of messages from several of my friends who felt the same symptoms. Read more about how COVID-19 is affecting our mental health here.

When panic and anxiety strike, these are the things that have helped me that I wish can do the same for you:

Look at plants.

I read somewhere long ago that looking at something green brings an instant calming effect. The morning after I thought I was dying because I couldn't breathe, I stepped out when the sun rose and did a couple of breathing exercises while surrounded by my Mother's and Grandma's plants and I felt a lot better.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you are able to, I hope you can support and patronize our local farmers, especially in this pandemic. I ordered these fruits and veggies from Session Groceries, and I couldn't be happier with the bounty I got. Their app is so easy to use and ordering is a breeze, too. Download it via Google Play or the App Store.

Try something new. 

I have always said that I am happiest when I make. I am a serial hobbyist and was expecting to work with arts and crafts with all my materials here and the free time I got due to not needing to commute to and from work. However, all the watercolor paints, stamps, makeup, and books I brought home have been set aside in favor of Tasty and Sally's Baking Addiction. My weekends are spent in the kitchen and I am loving learning to cook and bake for my family.

Banana Fritters topped with powdered sugar and blueberry preserves
*chef's kiss*
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
*chef's kiss*
Lemon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
*chef's kiss*
Cheesy Baked Mussels
*chef's kiss*
I followed my Banana Bread recipe for this and topped it with Kellogg's Mueslix Harvest Fruit for added texture
This was a hit and I am making more this weekend!
I enjoy baking and cooking immensely and I am also glad because my kitchenventures brought me and my family closer from all the bonding we have been doing in the kitchen and dining area. It's wild that at 34 I didn't even know before some stories they told! I'm close to my family and all but ever since I moved out, I had been missing out on things. I guess getting to this age also lets me view my family in a different light and I appreciate them more now.

My aunt Jean and her husband are also here because the hotels they're working in abroad shut down temporarily due to the Coronavirus, and every day feels like family day. I consider myself extremely lucky that I was able to go home when I did. I would've either gone crazy because of loneliness if I stayed in the place I'm renting in Makati or starved because I am not allowed to have cooking equipment there, or both.

The electric oven is truly one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever purchased. Thanks for splitting the cost with me, J!

Talk to family and loved ones. 

In addition to my point above, it also helps to not feel isolated. I am an extrovert and I thrive on conversations, and now that I can't talk to my friends and workmates in person, we're getting by on chats and video calls.

I miss my boyfriend J so much, though.

I'm not sure if Lily still remembers me, heh.
At this rate, I don't know when I can see or hug him again, but I am looking forward to that post-pandemic first kiss.

◕ This podcast: Nothing much happens; bedtime stories to help you sleep. Whenever I can't sleep, this podcast envelopes me like a lullaby and sends me to Dreamland five minutes into one story. It's that comforting.

◕ Take care of something else. 

One way to get your mind off things is by taking care of something else. On my birthday, a stray cat that my family has been feeding gave birth to four kittens in our backyard.

Sadly, one of them has since perished, but the other three are looking better. I bought cat food for Mama Cat so she can stay healthy and feed her kittens. I really want to keep the black kitten but my siblings are allergic, so the best I can do is just make sure they are fed.

There is nothing normal about the situation we are in, but against all odds it seems I have settled into a routine that works for me. I wake up at 6 AM regardless if it's a work day or not, prepare for our 9 AM agency-wide town call, eat three meals and merienda every day, log out after eight hours of working unless there are deadlines that need my attention, and get to bed by 10 PM. Sometimes, like tonight, falling asleep gets challenging, so the podcast I cited above is very helpful.

I am scared but I do not want to feed the fear. It's the uncertainty, it's the not knowing. Tomorrow is not promised.  But what we can do, if we are privileged to do so, is stay home, wash our hands, and help out in any way we can.

Take care. I'll see you when I see you. ❤

Read more tips on how to cope with COVID-19 from Dr. Trina de la Llana, a Filipina psychiatrist, in this FlipScience article.

Post a Comment

Comments brighten up my day! Thank you for leaving kind words!