As most of my friends and family know, this pandemic is my worst nightmare realized.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been terrified of germs.
But most days: germs.
When I was a child, I’d patrol the bathroom to make sure my family members washed their hands.
Also when I was young, I wouldn’t touch a quilt my great aunt made for me because I was worried she’d pricked herself while sewing it, thus leaving behind an invisible trail of disease-ridden blood.
In elementary school, I threw away a pair of Skechers because I accidentally stepped on a dead bird.
In fifth grade, I ruined our family reunion because I was convinced the 100-year-old Italian home we rented was empty because its inhabitants had died of the plague.
In middle school, I thought I had Mad Cow Disease.
In high school, I got tested for Mono at least four times. (And ended up getting it! Huzzah!)
In college, I convinced myself I was pregnant without having sex.
In college, I went to the ER because I convinced myself I’d been given a dirty flu shot needle.
A few months ago, I started feeling sick while listening to “Outlander” because Claire and Jamie kept talking about small pox.
I’ve never seen Contagion, 28 Days Later, or any of those types of movies because I know they will be my absolute undoing. (I’m ruling out Parasite, too, based on name alone. Though I hear it’s great!)
In summary, my anxiety has been training for this my entire life.
I’ve spent the last few days in a series of highs and lows. One minute, I’ll be perfectly fine. Laughing, joking, eating the myriad of treats my roommate, Heather, keeps making for us.
The next, I’ll feel like I’m about to pass out.
I am slipping back into old habits. I’m not returning phone calls, texts or emails. I’m not listening to people when they talk to me; my face is simply there to hide the panic behind it.
My stress dreams are no joke. Here is one entry from my journal:
Tuesday, March 17
“I had a nightmare last night that I had COVID-19.
I was at an Irish pub. I started feeling really weird and hot. Someone served me a blueberry muffin with eggs on top.
Next I was home, screaming for my mom but no sound would come out. Eventually she heard me and took me to the hospital.
I was ‘first in line.’ They gave me the test. It was a cheeseboard set up with tiny amounts of fermented food. I put each one in my mouth and drank a weird liquid. Apparently that was the test. I tested positive.
They then asked if we were going to stay at the hospital or in a hotel. I told my mom to make the decision. We picked a hotel room that had a Tasmanian Devil theme.”
I am fortunate in that I have the resources to support myself during my complete isolation. I know many people have it much worse than I do. People have lost jobs. Money. Time with loved ones. So much. And this thing is only getting started.
I have no idea what’s going to happen.
It feels like waiting for a tsunami.
I needed to write about it because I’m feeling up to it today.