The Anxiety of Emerging from Isolation

For the latest status on our recovery from the Coronavirus, check out my COVID-19 Diary.

Daniel and I left the cabin yesterday for the first time since I drove him to the clinic to get a test for Coronavirus (COVID-19). I was eager to leave but a little nervous too. During our first days of confinement, I was bouncing off the walls and desperate to go outside. But that changed the longer we stayed here. I got used to being inside. The thought of leaving the cabin made me feel a little anxious.

We have complied with the CDC guidelines on when to discontinue home isolation. Daniel hasn’t had a fever in over a week. Of course, I never had a fever at all. It has been about four days since either of us felt like we had any “significant” symptoms. We both still have minor symptoms, such as the occasional cough or sneeze. I have the feeling that these minor symptoms will linger with us for some time.

And we really need to move on from this tiny cabin. We have a great apartment in Seattle lined up for the next month starting tomorrow. Our current location is way too small for our needs – especially if we have to be inside most of the time.

But the thought of leaving still made me a little nervous.

The Walk

I stepped outside for the first time yesterday morning to go for a walk to the neighborhood beach. It’s only about a half mile walk, one way. I walked there the day before Daniel came down with a fever. It’s a lovely little stroll.

As I haven’t really gotten off the couch at all in 10 days I wasn’t sure what to expect. Could I make it that far and back without tiring myself out?

As I stepped off of the porch onto the driveway I was overcome with emotion and burst into tears. Not little dainty tears either, I was heaving big ugly sobs. It was a little embarrassing honestly. I hadn’t really been expected that.

I’m usually a positive person and try to find the silver lining in a negative situation and that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do for the past few weeks. But getting sick with the Coronavirus in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere sucked. It was really scary – especially since we are among some of the first people to get it and didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t know a single other person who has come down with a confirmed case of the virus yet.

Anyway, I apparently had been bottling those feelings inside and when I stepped out of the cabin it all hit me like a ton of bricks. And I cried like a baby. I guess that’s a reasonable response.

I stopped crying after a few minutes and kept walking to the beach. But it was hard. Normally I love walking. If it wasn’t for the Coronavirus outbreak, I would be walking 160 miles along the Portuguese Camino right now. But I just wanted to go hide back inside of the cabin.

After pausing for a few minutes at the beach to admire the view, I turned around and headed back. Returning to the cabin involved walking up a little hill and I could really feel it in my lungs. I already have a diminished lung capacity from a nasty respiratory infection I experienced 10 years ago. It feels like it has gotten even worse. I hope it gets better as I continue to recover.

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This dock is down at the beach and is usually covered in little birds.

The Drive

By the time I had returned back to the cabin, I was worn out and didn’t really feel like leaving again. But Daniel and I had planned to go for a drive this afternoon. We needed to run a couple of errands and were a little worried that the car might not start if we went for too much longer without driving it.

Thankfully Daniel didn’t seem to share my apprehension about leaving the cottage. He drove while I navigated us around the local area. We drove around for a while to ensure the car battery was recharged. We picked up some groceries (more bubbly water? yes please!) and a pizza (yay!). By the time we got home I was exhausted.

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Moody clouds today.

The Anxiety

I felt awful for the rest of the day yesterday. It wasn’t a return of my Coronavirus symptoms, exactly. This was something different. I felt shaky and I had a knot in the pit of my stomach. I had a headache and felt wiped out. I guess these could be attributed to my weakened state due to illness.

This isn’t my first time experiencing these symptoms, however. I’ve been here before. I was pretty sure this was just plain old-fashioned anxiety. I wasn’t 100% sure but I seemed to be crying a lot which is usually a big clue. In this case, however, the symptoms also seemed to align with a mild case of agoraphobia.

I have a history of anxiety and was in therapy for several years during a particularly stressful period of my life. That was an awful experience but it taught me a lot about myself and I have learned some coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety as a result.

Unfortunately, one of my preferred coping mechanisms is hiking which I can’t exactly do right now. I can barely even walk out of the door without feeling a little panicky. But I have some other tools in my tool bag. Knowing what I was dealing with helped too. I’ve dealt with anxiety before. I can do it again.

Writing about the experience also helps. It’s one of the reasons why I blog in the first place. There is a lot of stigma associated with anxiety and other mental illnesses as well as seeking treatment for it which is dumb. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. I hope that by being completely open and transparent, it will be helpful to others who also may also be dealing with a similar experience.

I have the feeling I won’t be the only person suffering from anxiety and agoraphobia during this period of time. There are a lot of scared people stuck indoors for extended periods of time right now.

Today’s Agenda

So I keep blogging and moving forward. I didn’t sleep well last night (thanks, insomnia!) but I feel better today than I did yesterday. I will make myself go outside for a little bit today and get some fresh air. This time I won’t go so far.

Today we will pack up the cabin and do our best to disinfect it. I’ve been stressing about this day for a long time but now that it’s finally here it’s not so bad. We’ll bag all of our trash and put it directly in the garbage bin so the owner doesn’t have to touch it (including the food scraps that are stored in the freezer).

And tomorrow we’ll finally move on from the cabin. I’m looking forward to putting this experience behind us.

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You probably can’t tell this from the photo but I’m a nervous wreck.

4 thoughts

  1. Hang in there. You’re feelings are real. Totally relatable in dealing with anxiety and depression. Thanks for sharing.

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