I knew the pandemic was triggering for me. Bringing back old compulsions. Familiar fears. Making me feel stuck. Anxious. Ready to fight, flee or freeze. But I didn’t quite understand why until speaking with my psychotherapist and learning that it is precisely my fear response that has made me relapse into a post-traumatic stress response. So basically, the pandemic became the predator.
And considering this is a global pandemic, the predator is everywhere. In every country and every state. At our family’s and friend’s houses. Roaming the streets. It’s even in the air. All of which has been making me feel heavy. Weighed down. Which I’ve felt before, but feeling this way over a virus has been new for me.
I wasn’t like this with communicable diseases before the pandemic. I guess I did feel terrified of Zika, but my sister was pregnant with my niece at the time. And my husband and I were considering getting pregnant. And my friends got married in the Dominican Republic, which was heavily infested at the time, so I didn’t go, but everyone else did. But it all felt different then than not being able to leave my house now. Because of the crippling fear that COVID has brought back to me.
Right before COVID hit, I had been recovering from trauma and was staying in. For almost two years, I barely went anywhere. I taught and wrote online. I went to the grocery store. I traveled only as needed. And while I had been looking forward to being out again prior to COVID, I find myself able to do even less now that lockdown is over. I literally can’t even think about going to a restaurant. Going shopping for clothing. Getting my hair done. Things that came so easily before feel chock-full of fear now.
Even being outside has been a struggle. My husband and I tried to walk in a nearby park a few weeks ago, but I got so stressed we had to leave. Everything made me jumpy. Someone crossing my path to throw away trash. Two people walking quickly behind us. A bird flying overhead. It was like a potential threat was everywhere I turned.
But just like everything else I’ve survived, I won’t let this beat me either. I just keep telling myself it’s safe. Trying to let go of one fear at a time. Taking things one activity at a time. One day at a time. Seeing how each experience unfolds and reflecting on how I feel.
And my psychotherapist keeps reminding me that I wasn’t like this about getting sick before. That it’s just triggering my fear response. And that I have the power to take back control. I don’t have to be the victim. I don’t even have to fight the predator. Well, besides with a mask, social distance and Clorox wipes. I just have to listen to myself. To my Higher Self. I just have to listen and accept and learn and love. And hopefully, I’ll overpower the predator once again.
To all of you who are suffering, I hope you feel better very soon. I wish you light and love on your journey to heal.