Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Anxiety and the pandemic

For anyone who hasn’t ever experienced anxiety or extreme nervousness, it can be difficult to understand what it might be like to have these conditions. Anxiety comes in many forms and can appear for many reasons, whether that is due to trauma, fear and more times than not, for reasons we cannot even explain.

During lockdown, I realised that my close family and friends struggle with anxiety and I never knew. Most notably, I discovered that both my sister-in-law and best friend suffered from anxiety and this was intensified because of factors created by the pandemic.

I realised that they were both experiencing their own anxiety

I’d never really noticed it before but during lockdown I did. It was the intensity, the uncertainty and the fear of COVID-19 that made me notice small characteristics in them, which I had never appreciated – their typical chatty and positive sides shifted to an indifferent and seemingly upset mood. I realised that they were both experiencing their own anxiety.

My sister-in-law was working on a COVID ward in a hospital where she witnessed deaths every day and had to work in an environment of constant panic. Although I couldn’t take away the sights she saw, the upset she felt and the fear of working with a killer virus – I could at least listen to her troubles, cook her dinner and try to make her laugh.

It is, therefore, so important to support our friends and family

Sometimes, it is the small things in life which can provide the biggest support. My best friend’s dad is immunodeficient, essentially meaning that he hardly has an immune system. Our bodies can fight a common cold but he cannot, let alone a killer virus. She was nervous for her father and what the future could be for him, so she isolated herself in a way to conceal her fear for her father. All of these emotions caused her to develop anxiety surrounding the virus. My two examples show that young people are not oblivious to the virus, like how the press portrays us all, and instead we do feel extremely anxious.

I was reading a book called Love for Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunin, and I read the quote: “As you would invest in the person you love, so you should invest in yourself.” In this light, it is important to love yourself and be selfish but to say that those who have anxiety need to take care of themselves while being in a global pandemic where control is completely absent, makes a mockery of anxiety altogether.

We all differ emotionally so we all have different coping mechanisms

It is, therefore, so important to support our friends and family and be there for them, even if we find it tough to comprehend their emotions. Although there are times when we should be selfish for our own sake, we must also be selfless for those who cannot love themselves at certain times.

With the chance of a second wave on the horizon, many of us will be feeling anxious and there is no cure nor one way to stop people feeling anxious. We all differ emotionally so we all have different coping mechanisms. I cannot say how to cope with anxiety and I cannot say how to know if someone suffers from anxiety in any form. What I can say is that feelings of anxiousness and anxiety can affect anyone and everyone – “we must not judge based on how people appear, as they may have difficulties that nobody can see”, as I read in my book.

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