The irony of my quarantine life

A few years ago, I spent an entire year in isolation due to fear.

Back then, there was nothing to fear but what anxiety was doing to my body. My stomach was in knots and twisting and squeezing to send me into bouts of pain, and acid reflux scarred my esophagus on a daily basis, sometimes all day every day. Coping with anorexia added to this struggle, and I spent a lot of time speaking with my alters and spirit guides — we wrote down almost all of our conversations at the time. They were my only company some days.

Now that I’ve overcome all of it, I’m in isolation again, but not by choice. This time there is a real fear I don’t have any control over, and my anxiety is just on the precipice of falling back into old patterns. My alters and spirit guides are with me and support me as they always have, but Depression is blocking them out due to a lack of mental energy. This is not good for me or them.

I’m introspecting on all of it; the irony that I’ve been through this song and dance when there wasn’t a real threat, and here I’m reliving those awful years again as they come back to haunt me. My stomach problems are coming back and my energy levels are low, and my agoraphobia is back. I’d overcome all of this just to be challenged by it again due to the pandemic keeping everyone inside.

When all of this is over, I will once again have to relearn how to be a person as I did those few years ago. I’ll have to teach myself, again, that it’s okay to leave my apartment. Most importantly, I’ll have to remind myself that I still carry some of the progress I’ve made. While this quarantine has set me back quite a few steps and undone what I’ve accomplished with my agoraphobia and anxiety, I have knowledge I didn’t have before.

I worry for those who have mental health challenges right now. I hurt knowing that people with problems like mine will be affected by this quarantine long after it’s over. Nightmares. Anxiety attacks. Fear of the outside. Fear of people. Trying to regain a sense of positivity again. It’s going to stick and we’ll have to go through exposure therapy all over again.

But we can do this. It will be safe again and we’ll conquer these beasts that we’ve had to face down before. I may not feel that sentiment while typing it, but I have to think it, say it, and look forward to a day when it will be true again. One day I will be able to grab my backpack and leave my apartment to go to the coffee shop downtown I love so much, and I’ll continue where I left off.

This is a pause. Life will resume again. It has to.

©2020 Shane Blackheart

Something calming for anyone who may need it:

To be released into the ether directly after writing

Catching anything to make a coherent thought in my buzzing brain right now is a feat.

So far this month, a pandemic has broken out that is expected peak around the time I’m supposed to get top surgery after a two-year fight.

I fell into a bipolar mixed episode — mostly depression — that has lasted nearly a month. The crescendo has finally reached today.

My grandpa died the other day.

My new insurance denied a prior authorization for my testosterone I’ve been on for over a year. If I have to skip it, the mental side effects will be a nightmare. Not to mention the return of a certain monthly visitor named Red that I’m not prepared for and haven’t seen for some time.

After all that, I have no idea what to do with myself.

I’m already struggling to keep my head above water. Now I’m drowning, and I have to stay strong. As it is now, I can’t even go out for a distraction. We’re isolated because of the social distancing and quarantines from COVID19.

As I paced around my apartment hyperventilating, hands shaking to where I could barely hold my anxiety medicine without dropping it, I couldn’t access my coping skills. The volcano inside me was going to overflow, and I knew it would scorch my skin. One thing, however, shone through like an epiphany through it.

Write. I need to write.

It was my spirit guides and alter — Byleth, Daro, and Lestan — breaking through my moment of catastrophe to protect me again, reminding me that it was okay to take my emergency medication for moments like this and that writing was my best distraction. It hit me like a light in the dark as I agreed with them. It made everything come to a drastic, deafening halt.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to focus on the novel I’m currently writing, so I opened WordPress and stared at the blank page, not knowing where to start.

I didn’t want sympathy. I didn’t want to look like I was fishing for sympathy. But I needed to get something out and send it off into the ether, and posting something to my blog is like releasing it. As with my first book that deals with some trauma I experienced myself, writing it out and releasing it into the world is how I heal and deal with things. I suppose people will have different opinions on that, but it doesn’t matter to me.

There’s blood-letting, and then there’s what I call ink-letting. The one put too many scars on my skin. The other is just metaphorical bleeding onto the page — my heart cracked open like an egg to let the dark stuff stain the white, and for other eyes to, most likely, judge. Either way, it’s no longer in my hands or in my mind. It’s gone. Let go. Scrawled across pages that can be sent far from me into the open.

I write for myself first, as I did today. I write what makes me feel better, what heals me, and what takes me away from this reality where things and people happen to make me want to disappear.

My stories help me disappear. It’s the safest way I’ve found to do that yet.

©2020 Shane Blackheart


My music for therapy today, and inspiration: