It was around 2:00 AM this past Saturday when my boyfriend and I were getting ready to go to bed. We shut off our 30th episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and went around the corner to our shared quarters during the quarantine. As I laid down in bed, my heart began to feel kind of tight, but I brushed it off and tried to close my eyes. As my boyfriend began to wrap his arms around me, the tightness in my heart began to spread to my entire chest. I instantly flung his arm from around me and turned onto my back to help my shallow, concave breathing but that only made things worse. I hopped out of bed into the living room, and my boyfriend Gary could instantly sense that something was wrong. I didn't want to freak myself out, but I began to self-diagnose on WebMD and Healthline and was convinced that I was having a heart attack.
I was going to go into cardiac arrest while in quarantine during COVID-19. Way to go, 2020.
I sat on the couch as my boyfriend tried to help me center my mind and control my breathing, but nothing seemed to be working for me. Suddenly, a pain started to shoot down my arms and into my hands - a tingling sensation. Then, a migraine started to match the palpation of my heart - or lack thereof. I didn't want to believe that I was having a heart attack, but these signs were not a stranger to me. It finally came to me - I was having a panic attack. While this may not have been as severe as my last few where I've passed out or had rapid breathing, all of the signs and symptoms were there.
As a mental health advocate, and certified Mental Health First Aider, I'm able to identify the signs of an anxiety or panic attack. Especially with myself as the patient for diagnosis and considering that I know my body way too well at this stage in the game. Over the past few months, I've been managing my depression and anxiety by going to therapy again, keeping my mental health in check and keeping up with activities and people who serve a positive purpose in my life. However, I must admit that at times, it is a little more difficult to keep myself in check.
As I study and practice mental health more, I'm learning more about myself day-by-day, but Miss Rona coming to town has really shaken my mental and emotional well-being.
As a full-time freelancer and creative, Miss Rona has definitely made me change my lifestyle quite a bit and kick my hustle into overdrive. I temporarily moved in with my boyfriend and his sister in New Jersey, my savings account has a total of $15 and a lot of my clients have put a halt to productivity - that's enough to make anyone go temporarily insane, right? As someone who lives with high functioning anxiety, when I crash, it's a hard one - like falling from a thirty story building onto concrete type of hard. I try to make sure that I'm always on top of my own shit while making sure that everyone in my camp is on top of theirs, while worrying about the well-being of my family spread across the country, finances and more. I'm getting heart palpitations just writing this out.
I'm struggling to be OK with being forced to stay inside with limited supply of food and social interaction - and an added curfew of 8 PM EST. This quarantine is forcing me to be with my own thoughts, which is scary for me because I know my thoughts can be a dark place - but I'm taking this opportunity to relearn myself and rewrite my journey.
Where do I want to be when the quarantine is up?
What am I going to do with the time I have now?
How can I stretch my $15 like it's $1,500?
I've taken the past few days to strategize and visualize where D'Shonda is going to be and how she is going to come out stronger from what these circumstances have forced upon me. To anyone who is reading this, I challenge you to do the same. It's OK to not be OK, and it's brave to admit your fears.
All we can do now is assess, strategize, relax and release. Give it a try and report back to me in three months.
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