Peace for a Worrier: From Lockdowns to Living Again

Have you ever had those days when you cannot stop thinking about a task at hand, a bill you need to pay before it’s due, a conversation you just had with a colleague or a friend, and many other events that may have happened in your day? You are not alone, as I also experience such concerns regularly. The problem is that I am not simply a passive overthinker but also an ever-active procrastinator. The latter is my coping mechanism which paralyzes me.

Mental Exhaustion and its Physical Manifestation

At the start of 2020’s quarantine series, I thought I would be fine as an introvert; I never really find it difficult to stay home. However, after more than a year of the same cycle, I would honestly say I had my worst moments. What did I do then? 

I think that I am still lucky to have had my family with me during those trying times. At least I still had other people with whom I could engage, somehow. We are a family of mostly introverts, so having quiet days are simply ordinary. But emotions started to reach their peaks and blew up into feats of anger or sudden mood swings during the entire quarantine/lockdown season. Those moments were the worst as everyone became sensitive to even the most mundane things.

Those sudden mood swings were just some physical manifestations of the piled-up concerns I had for the months following the initial lockdown. Aside from that, I also experienced my body getting too heavy when I could not or would not wish to move. I got headaches, body pains, and even vertigo.

I never thought I was stressed, as I still thought I was lucky to return to work physically, even with additional restrictions to protect myself, my colleagues, and my family. However, it seemed my body had the chance to tell me that there were underlying worries that I had been avoiding for months already. The quarantine, the unknown risk of contracting COVID-19, and even the security of my family took their toll on me. I had the worst vertigo episodes. I had days when I could not even get up from bed as I felt everything moving around me. Sadly, even when I reported to work, I had about two vertigo attacks. Those scared me as I thought of not knowing what to do if ever that happened while I traveled to or from work.

Finding Other Outlets

As I finally faced the worries I had stored in my subconscious, I tried to cope differently. One such was finding other outlets to get me off thinking of my worries. I know this step is not a good choice as I am still not adequately addressing the root of my concerns, but this was better than none.

I tried organizing the books that have been lying all over my space. I tried buying more books that got me excited to reading again. I tried helping around the house with chores. I tried writing more. However, all of those went downhill.

I organized books but felt so bad not being able to read many of them or just halfway reading through them. I bought books but never found the time to sit down and read them. I cleaned around the house but would find myself more exhausted than ever. I wrote and wrote, yet never really shared any of them. I even had many poems and some interesting beginnings to a possible short story. But they were just left on the screens of my offline notes.

There was even a time when I randomly tried making different dishes. Well, that was something that helped me a lot now at present, as I am living alone in a foreign country. But honestly, I miss the accessibility and convenience I had back home. Anyhow…

It seemed then that I couldn’t move any further from how I had become, due to the extended quarantine. I became paralyzed through constant procrastination. Until I found another chance to do something in my life.

Worries Helped Me Move Forward

Somehow, I never thought of worries as something that could help as I have been trying my best to make them disappear (even until now). However, as the quarantine progressed, my mind went berserk. It only stopped when I gradually found my footing again. I finally dared to apply for the JET Programme. It felt right then in spite of all of the uncertainties that were happening around me. I wanted to get back to, at least, fulfilling some of my forgotten dreams; one of which was going to Japan and working there.

Now, because of that leap of faith and a random feat of courage, I am here, living a dream I once had. Even with many challenges still lurking around me, I am slowly living life again. I am no longer in quarantine, yet I am still within the boundaries of a world reminded of the previous pandemic. Japan has yet to lift any of its COVID protocols, but the country is slowly easing its way to bringing the old times back.

Mask-wearing is still very much practiced here. Yet, I am happy to say that the fear and the dragging worry of being in a pandemic-struck world has somehow left my heart. I even realized that the worries I once had were fears of suddenly leaving this world with uncertainties and even regrets about not doing or even just trying my chance at fulfilling my dreams. 

Now, I wake up each morning with a sense of hope. I am blessed to have another day to enjoy the wonders of the Lord’s grace around me. There are numerous things to be thankful for, and I try to focus on those as I move forward. Yes, there are still moments when I can’t fully function, as I am filled with anxious thoughts about the future brought on by my overthinking. There are still days when I choose to simply stay in my apartment and not be in contact with anyone, as I need time off for myself. Physical exhaustion still happens, but the challenge now is that I have to face them alone. Perhaps, that is another thought I would reflect on for my next post – how it is living abroad on your own.

I am moving forward and getting that sense of peace that keeps me alive.

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