• J. V. Damaris

Escaping the panic in a pandemic

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

The following is just a little thing I wrote about where I'm at in my life right now. I hope everyone's enjoying this site as much as I am! Keep up the good work and I'll be back to post some poetry soon! In the meantime:


There never seems to be enough of it. 

January I spent on the verge of a breakdown. A state of pure panic and stress. We were about to move out of our humble (-horrible) house-share and into a great little flat on the other side of London. Me and my sister and my partner. I put the deposit down whilst knowing all the while that my maintenance loan wouldn't stretch very far. Not my best decision. 

"I've got

brain rot

ADD generation

can't focus

can't listen

on the verge of everything

and nothing seems to fit.

23 doesn't fit."

                                                                                                                                                                                          -from my diary

Work seems to find me pretty easily though. A friend got me a job in events - back to the ol' red-tie-black-apron garb. It seemed my life was finally on the right track. February saw me in a new flat with a new job, an anniversary came and Valentines Day came, and I even remembered to send my Mum a card for her birthday. My life was fine but something was still wrong. It was me who was wrong. I was completely and utterly depressed.

I don't know what possessed me to think it was a good idea to come off Sertraline (antidepressants) last Summer, but the realisation had hit me by March (this current month), that: I'm a lifer. 

This is my 4th time coming back onto them.

"S.S.R.I.s, give em' time.

S.S.R.I.s, I think I'm gonna cry."                   

                                                                                                                                                                      - Chorus lyrics for a song I wrote

Things get worse before they get better, as the doctors say. My anxiety skyrocketed immediately, replacing any notion of depression I had. It was the worst I had experienced coming back onto the drug, 4th times a charm. Every inch of my body screamed at me as I tried to go about my day. It felt like a bad trip. Paranoia and anxiety attacks. Having an attack in class embarrassed me so much that I had another one. (Emotions embarrass me). Later, I walked to my evening shift in a haze, my limbs floating in a peculiar fashion as I drifted along the pavement. 

Yet being busy gave me purpose. Distracted me from my dizzying thoughts. I would succeed. I was determined. I would work part-time, still go to all my classes and keep up with rehearsing and gigging with my two bands. It started to feel like I'd never see my partner with our crazy schedules. I saw him asleep more than I did awake.

And then Coronavirus became a thing.

I mean, it was already a thing, but now it was happening everywhere. No more events for me to work and no more classes. I now see my tutors in 2D... and their cats, too!

I felt like I wasn't allowed to have anxiety and depression anymore. My doctor asked me (over the phone, of course) why I hadn't called up to get counselling. How can I when there's a fucking pandemic going on? People are seriously ill! People are dying! My problems are insignificant now.

Didn't change the fact that I'm still swallowing the pills every morning. That my heart still goes a mile a minute when I have to check my emails and messages. And don't even think about trying to phone me without me bursting into tears. Even as I write this, the nervous twitch in my right eye won't let up. 

Yet, I have time now. Time to reflect on everything. To get back to me. My relationships. I couldn't have chosen better people to spend this time with than my two best friends. We find brightness and laughter in the stupidest things. We spent about half an hour yesterday just enjoying the fuck out of one of those sticky hand toys you get from arcades - like we're children again. and why not? It's important to find structure and daily routine to keep your sanity in isolation, but don't stick to it so much that it drives you to panic. Find the time to relax and to play in this weird space. Reconnect with loved ones, old friends, everyone. We will all be feeling the same sense of loneliness at the moment.

These are crazy times, but maybe we can find a little freedom in the craziness. A little creativity in the crisis. 

...and remember that your mental health should, above all, come first. You matter.

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