See the thing is, anxiety disorders don’t make us weak or terrified of everything. They make us terrified of the unknown. Tell us that something might happen and that the consequences could be catastrophic, and we’ll panic. Tell us that something is happening and what that means, and we take it on the chin.
At least, that’s my experience, anyway.
The difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder is how relative the anxiety is, and how much impact it’s having on your life.
When we think about Coronavirus, we see people dealing with it in all manner of ways. Some are wearing gloves and face masks, some are self-isolating, some are feeling very panicked and cleaning their post with disinfectant. Others, meanwhile, are doing the conga on VE day. The strange response, in my view, is the latter, because we know for a fact that this virus is very real and very contagious, and the fatalities keep rising. We’ve every right to be anxious. We should be anxious. It’s having a big impact on our lives but it’s relative to the situation.
So those of us with anxiety disorders will obviously be far more anxious than Joe Public, right? Not necessarily. In fact, this isn’t my experience at all.
I was concerned when I first heard about the virus. I found the idea of it coming to the UK terrifying, and, weirdly, I became obsessed with other types of health conditions – as my health anxiety often can make me do. As we entered lockdown, my job felt stressed, redundancies were a real possibility, and I was having daily meltdowns, lots of tears and plenty of wine. My GP put my anxiety meds up (I take antidepressants which for some people cause anxiety, and for some, like me, decrease anxiety).