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Anxiety (April 16th) by Mylene

Anxiety. It is there at every turn, in every step. It is there, always. Lurking in the shadows, coming out occasionally and causing a storm. I have trouble recognising it until it is too late, already being enthralled in its claws. I wish I could recognise it. I wish I could feel it, not just the symptoms. I wish I could validate it. Invite it, welcome it.

People are telling me that of course everyone feels anxious due to the coronavirus. Everyone feels concerned and worried. That I am part of this collectively experienced anxiety, that I’m not on my own feeling this.

But they haven’t grown up in my shoes, grown up with a bizarrely high level of anxiety, the daily threat of death. I never felt that this was anything extraordinary. More like a permanent state of being. It just became absorbed into everyday normality. Today, I experience symptoms of anxiety, my heart racing, sweating, irritable, I can’t swallow anything. But I do not feel it, I can’t understand it, even when its sources should be obvious. If someone can’t feel pain, it makes them very vulnerable as they do not respond appropriately to the source of pain.

This makes experiencing the coronavirus very challenging as I have to rely on my intellect to know that this is now the time for increased self-care. But without feeling the urgency, self-care remains very difficult to implement or to manage. In this sense, my anxiety is not the norm, is certainly not what everyone else is experiencing. It is a lonely, isolating experience.


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