There is no normalcy to reality check against my unreality: There is reality in unreality.

Eva’s first #MadCovidDiaries Diary 31.3.2020

It has been fifteen days since I committed to self-isolation, social distancing or am I shielding? So many terms are flying about, it’s hard to keep up. Changes in the situation are spreading fast like the virus.

The thing that terrifies me is catching it, I’m alone and feel like I might not cope with it as well. People are surviving this but they feel awful for weeks. Long after they have recovered, they still feel weak and lethargic. The day this escalated a few weeks ago, I had blood test results back and the GP promptly informed me my white blood cell count was low so I have to be careful. We decided this is possibly down to the medication I am taking for Bipolar.

The next thing I fear is running out of food and having to go out. I have social anxiety at the best of times and now, well the anxiety is spinning out of epic proportions. I can feel semi happy knowing I don’t have to go out for anything, but I eat at home every day and my supplies are dwindling. This could mean a future of one meal a day, possibly starvation depending on whether I can cope with the anxiety on top of going out where it is already scary. I feel worried about asking someone to go for me, suppose I put them in danger?

This has all triggered my agoraphobia. Sometimes I used to force myself out and delight in the normalcy of the world outside. While I struggled mentally, the world went on as normal. Except now things aren’t like that. There is no normalcy waiting to reality check against my unreality. There is reality in unreality.

I spend days opening my windows wide to give me the illusion of being outside. Thankfully my windows open wide enough. Thankfully the sun has been shining warm. The other day, I had a good cry, which was a relief as I haven’t been able to cry since this all started happening. I was really paranoid before the official lockdown, friends who wanted to see me and I thought they wanted to infect me. Now my neighbours are my potential infectors.

My mail box is located outside the flat so I have to leave my premises to get it. I bought some masks and gloves. I went to get my mail the other morning and I didn’t breathe the whole way through the corridor, save a wandering virus droplet floating about in the air waiting to infect me. I try not to think about the world outside too much, otherwise I start panicking into overwhelm. I have been feeling proud of my resilience but already the cracks are starting to appear. I often sleep poorly and wake up in a panic.

Discovered Qi gong again – helps shift the anxiety. It loosens up the tension I create in my body too. Art is another distraction so I’ve been making art over the last week with enthusiasm. The challenges and telling a story through my art is what I enjoy doing to pass the time. I am also doing Sudoku, word search puzzles, and I have a jigsaw puzzle that I haven’t opened yet. I’ve also being playing Solitaire with a deck of cards.

Decided to exercise in my living room using online classes as part of my routine. I find it helpful to get up at a certain time, wash and dress for the day. I’ve been working on an essay which has been hard because my thoughts aren’t flowing freely and it’s hard for me to focus and concentrate at the moment. I’ve found doing a bit each day is helpful

My annual leave ends this week so will have to start working from home again. I am terrified about that as there will be daily Skype meetings and interactions. I suppose this is better than having to cope with actually going into work as I am reliant on public transport and I am fearful about interacting with people again. The ‘How are you?’ question is becoming intimidating to answer. I don’t know if I should answer honestly next week or not. Perhaps I should prepare an answer, I’m probably going to need one.

I’m getting little prodromal signs for psychosis and the spring time is usually when I get a mental health episode of either depression, mania or psychosis. I feel withdrawn. It could all very well be me responding to the times, but a pandemic is happening right around the time I tend to start fighting off a springtime Bipolar episode. It’s hard to tell if my fears and anxieties are mental health related fears or reality related fears. It could be both.

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