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You are not alone: My struggles with anxiety during the Pandemic

Let’s face it, the world we live in right now is pretty stressful, and anxiety is on the rise. If you are like me, you have done everything you can to distract yourself from this fact. I’ve set schedules, gone on walks, cooked, played board games, and drank one too many with the roommates. I thought I was doing a good job keeping myself busy and out of my own mind. Last night, however, I found out that was not the case.

I, as I am sure many of you can relate to, have been under a tremendous amount of stress. I am part of the gig industry, and my last event was March 1st. I have no events booked in the foreseeable future, and only one check left coming in. Since the gig industry is self-employed, I also have not been eligible for unemployment to supplement my losses. I am fortunate enough to have experiences in child care, so I do have a sitting job here and there while kids are home from school. So I had that stress fairly controlled. I told myself how lucky I am to have a check coming in, the occasional sitting gig, and that the supplement check would be agreed on soon.

Financial stress under control

Have you ever heard the saying, “When it rains, it pours”? Well, it was becoming quite a storm in my life. My dad has been dealing with some health issues, and they are not sure of the cause. They keep doing the elimination process, and the leftovers are not the best. The two top contenders are cancer or liver disease. Neither one of these is something that I will be ok with. I have a complicated relationship with my dad, but I love him very much. Obviously, while this whole pandemic is going down, his testing is not a top priority, and he has a long wait until his appointment. I was slated to go see him, along with the rest of my family March 21-24, but ended up canceling my flight. With all the uncertainty of flight cancellations, closures, and total lock-downs, I could not risk getting stuck somewhere.

The only place I have any type of income would be watching children here. I also canceled because even though seeing my dad was definitely a priority, I was mainly going to meet my two-month-old nephew and my little sister, who also had to cancel her flight home to keep her infant son from catching anything. Meeting that baby was the only thing this month I was truly looking forward to, but I completely understood the reasoning behind not boarding a plane. So I told myself that even though I was heartbroken canceling my trip, it was the right thing and happened for a reason.

Family stress under control

Then, a few days ago, something happened that cause a full-on breakdown. I was on Facebook, scrolling through articles to see the full extent of the California “Safer at Home” regulations when I saw my friend tagged in a photo. The photo was captioned, “You will be missed.” I just spoke to this friend a few days prior; this must be some sort of mistake. I quickly looked through the comments and saw what I was dreading; he had been hit by a car the prior night and died. My heart sunk. I immediately started crying. The worst part is the low-life who hit him never even stopped. No respect. My friend lived in Dallas, but his family is in Los Angeles, and with all this financial hardship, they had to start a fund to help supplement the cost of transporting his body home. I cried for me. I cried for him. I cried for his poor family, who has to deal with this on top of everything else. I just cried, on and off, all night long. I talked about it to my roommates, they consoled me, and I kept crying. After a full day of crying, I thought I should be ok. I even said a prayer to say goodbye to him since going to the funeral was not a possibility with all of the new restrictions put in place. I was fine, sad, but I could handle it. 

Personal stress under control

The past few days, I have had a tightness in my chest. It is mainly a dull tightness, but anytime I rest, it gets really, really tight. Last night while I was in bed, it got very tight accompanied by throbbing pain in my left shoulder and difficulty breathing. I initially brushed it off and tried to sleep. The pain intensified over the next few hours, so I called the on-call physician at my doctor’s office to see what I should do. She said that anytime you get a tightness in your chest, go immediately to the ER, which was especially true with my family history with heart conditions. I texted my friend, who I knew was awake working, and asked what he thought I should do. He told me to please go to the ER. After about another 30 minutes of the pain not subsiding, I finally decided to go. I figured it could be heart-related or even COVID-19 related to the shortness of breath. Luckily my roommate was awake and took me to the nearest ER. 

I was nervous, and the tightening got worse

Turns out, the only good part of going to the ER at 4:30 am, is that there is no one there. As soon as I arrived, they checked my temperature, gave me a mask, and then sent me to the desk to fill out forms. There was one other lady in the waiting room. She seemed very ill, and even though I felt for her, I figured I should sit at the farthest chair possibly from her. Again, just showing me the reality of everything going on in the world right now. 

I was taken back about 20 minutes after arriving and immediately hooked up to the EKG and checked my vitals. All of which came back fine. Then they drew my blood to check for clots and took an X-Ray of my chest to make sure I did not have anything in my lungs to constrict my breathing. 

The more I sat there, the lighter the tightness got, I started to feel a little more at ease. After about an hour, I found out all my tests came out ok, and they think I could have possibly just been having anxiety attacks. They said that they had numerous patients come in lately with the same symptoms and had the same outcome. I was given discharge papers and things to look out for just in case it was an underlying blood or heart issue. I was told to try to find ways to help manage my stress. I left, feeling relieved I am not sick but also a little embarrassed I let myself get distracted from my emotions.

We all can and will rise above

The world is a crazy place right now. It is extremely stressful, and no one should feel bad if, at some points in time, they need help to manage how to cope. We all do. We are all being tried. It is hard, and that is ok to admit. In a way, it is beautiful that everyone in the world is going through a mutual hardship right now, even though we are all dealing with it at varying levels. Let us all focus on the good, use this time to grow in ourselves, learn something new, build our relationships, and put an emphasis on dealing with our own mental health.

As far as I can see, the world is joining together, not against each other at this time. That is a beautiful thing, and I have decided to focus on that and try to allow myself time to truly feel everything I need to feel and take the time to process everything thrown my way. We all can and will rise above; we just need to do it at our own pace and not ignore our intuitions.

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Community Ambassador

Caila Curtis

Caila Curtis

Caila Curtis lives in California but she originates from the great state of Texas. Caila is in experiental marketing, and when the world is not in lockdown, she travels quite a bit for her job! She is a karaoke enthusiast, live music addict, and loves a good adventure! The love of her life is her rescue terrier, Leon. She spends the time she has at home telling him how perfect he is. Caila hopes to brighten the day of anyone she connects with on CVN and hopes these trying times bring us together in unity to make the world a better place!

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