I’ve had one panic attack in my lifetime. It was this past summer, after I found out about my biological family. I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for air and thinking I was going to die. I couldn’t breathe and I was sure I was having a heart attack (I wasn’t). Instead, it was the physical intensity of what I was processing. I got up the next morning, made a Doctor’s appointment to get my heart checked out, and started to see a therapist to help me work out my emotions.
I got through those initial weeks, and I did what I knew needed to be done so I wouldn’t get stuck in that space. I’m still walking through it all, but it was important for me to manage how I was feeling in those moments and process it in a healthy way.
And then, now happened.
The last few weeks have been ones like I never thought I would see in my lifetime. In a matter of days, the world changed. If you had told me – as an introverted homebody – that I would struggle with staying home I wouldn’t have believed you. Home is my favourite and I’ll pretty much do what I can to make sure I get my time here.
After saying good-bye to who would likely be the last person to hang out at our house for the next couple months, the realization of the situation hit me really hard.
I felt like the walls were closing in.
I felt restrained.
I felt desperate for people.
I felt like I had no control of the future.
I felt fear for people I love.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
It was like I was back in the summer, and I couldn’t keep up with everything that was happening or how I was feeling. I had a couple really bad days, where my family wondered what was up with me. I couldn’t say what was wrong, and I didn’t even know how explain what I felt.
The world just felt really dark and small.
I walked into a store in our little town, and was greeted by a security guard who told me that my son couldn’t come into the store with me. He went back to the car, I went in the store and walked around in a fog unable to process our current reality and just left. I noticed last week when we go out for our daily walks in our friendly neighbourhood – people move away from each other now with a nervous smile. Yesterday, my kids had to look at my mom, who isn’t well, through her outside window because they can’t see her in person to keep her safe. Today, new dates were suggested as to how long this could continue and I felt myself slipping again,
Life apart is hard.
Even when it’s for the best.
While I know that there is so much to be thankful for, at the same time there is a sense of loss in this season.
Then, so much guilt.
I’m safe at home, watching movies and spending time with my family. What is even wrong with me? How could I be so ungrateful for being healthy with a roof over my head? I don’t take for granted the options I have – when many don’t. What right do I have to feel this way, when the world is falling apart and people are dying?
But loss is loss, no matter the scale.
I’m really trying hard to find things that bring peace.
Peace in uncertainty.
Peace in the middle of a pandemic action plan.
Peace over panic.
In the summer when I found myself in a crisis, and quickly falling – I had to put an action plan into place.
And now? Seems like a good idea again.
The plan? (from someone who’s never lived through a world-wide pandemic)
- Depend on my faith. God’s never let me down before, He’s not going to start now.
- Explain how I’m feeling to my family, because we are in this together.
- Say “I’m sorry” a lot. It’s really the apology season overall for family life.
- Get outside. My daughter and I started running last week, even though I run like Phoebe on Friends
- Check in with my family and friends. We can’t do this alone, reaching out to the people we love is so important.
- Play games and laugh. And let’s be honest, fight – because family games get intense.
- Practice grace. We all need it right now.
- Create and look for inspiration. There are still beautiful things all around.
- Be alone. Even in solitude, I still close my bedroom door and take time to process my thoughts when I need to.
- Connect in new ways. My church, all online now, pours literal life into my heart.
- Feel what needs to be felt.
I needed to remind myself of the plan. Almost daily. And change it as needed. (it’s a fluid-type of-thing.)
And, the most important thing?
I know where my hope comes from, and that my Maker offers me a blanket of peace that I can rest under in this season.
It covers and protects, it doesn’t judge and it understands.
Bringing comfort and presence.
It gently spreads out over my life.
Over your life too.
Peace over Panic.
It’s going to be ok.
We’re going to be ok.