Let me just start by saying that this post will be a definite detour from posts in the past. The struggles of being an introvert in an extroverted world are still very much factors in my day to day life. However, after experiencing nearly four weeks of presumed COVID 19, and then trying to adjust back into the real world of being an “essential worker”, I have found that the struggles are more internal than they ever were before.
I’ve known depression all my life – not necessarily for myself, but definitely in my family. I’ve seen how it effects people – both those who suffer from it personally and the family and loved ones who are at times at a loss for how to respond. Personally, I never really thought that I suffered from depression. Anxiety yes, depression no. I would have bouts of times when I was less than happy – but then that has to be common place. I called these times my “funks” and went on about my life. I think a part of me didn’t want to admit that there could be anything similar to the depression I had seen growing up, but denial is no friend of mine.
I’ve written about my bout with COVID, and I’ll post it soon – once I’ve had a chance to make sure that I’ve tapered down my rather palpable frustration. (The people in this world trying to tell me that what I had was some sort of conspiracy both hurts and angers me.) For now, let me just say that it was 18 straight days of misery, and the road to recovery is still ongoing, two and a half months later.
The key take away from the virus has been, for me, a recurrence and strengthening of my anxiety. I have had a minimum of three genuine panic attacks – not just anxiety attacks (here’s a helpful link on differences: https://www.healthline.com/health/panic-attack-vs-anxiety-attack#symptoms). This to add on to the anxiety attacks as well. My second full fledged attack finally got me to reach out to my medical providers to seek help. I won’t lie, this is one of the best steps I’ve ever taken in my life. Acknowledging that I have an issue, and not just chalking it up to a “funk” has been so incredibly helpful. This does not mean I don’t still have attacks – I’ve had one a piece since then – but I feel like I am more aware, and that I can start to explore different methods.
One of the key methods I’ve found that has helped me the most is cooking. I’ve always loved to bake – my coworkers still ask me for cookies to this day (after knowing some of them for up to 14 years). However, I was never one for meat, or even full meals. I don’t like handling raw meat, and I especially don’t like dealing with meat with a bone in it. (I did once go vegetarian because of my aversion – it didn’t stick). My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves meat. Sometimes I struggle to come up with a way to incorporate vegetables or fruit into a meal that I know he’ll actually eat. This, as well as the general feeling of relaxing purpose I experience in the kitchen, has led me to experiment more and more with recipes and creating my own.
There is a great deal of information out in the world currently about how stress levels are increasing for everyone. How it can be difficult to cope, even if we’re not on the front lines. It occurred to me today that I can’t be alone in experiencing anxiety and panic. There have to be more introverts out there who also struggle after being allowed to stay in the protection of our homes to reenter the world. I’ve always been comforted by writing, but I can’t sit down a write books like I used to with all the other things going on – job, family, pets – so this will be my outlet while I continue to navigate this ever changing world as a very firm introvert. And maybe, just maybe, a few others can take some comfort to know they’re not alone as well.
Next time, I’ll start to share recipes:)