Fighting Against Anxiety in the Time of Corona

I have been writing a couple personal posts about anxiety. I got rid of it for about five years, but I knew that it was lurking somewhere waiting to reappear. It did that in the beginning of this year, the strange year of 2020. It started before this COVID-19 thing, but the current situation keeps it alive. So, what I am doing to keep me going?

Sometimes at the turn of the year or so I started thinking too much of my life, how I have sort of wasted it. I am not a young chick anymore and most of my life is behind. What have I done with my life? Nothing. At least that’s what I felt and still feel. I still don’t know what I really want to do. Anyway, I noticed that the symptoms of anxiety started to appear. I linked that with my thoughts. I was hoping they would vanish.

But they didn’t. This tiny little virus changed it all. I know that I am quite fortunate one as all the restrictions have very little impact on my life. I don’t meet people when I am in Finland. I have two mates with whom I am in touch, but we actually meet very seldom, maybe twice a year or something like that. I also am in touch with two ex-neighbours, but as they both are so called seniors, the visits are not possible. So I am living happily with my books. Yes, books. That’s the key word. More about that later.

Rowing boat, 1983

I am basically coping well. I keep myself occupied with my blog (yes, this blog thing is the only thing I do nowadays; I don’t have a paid job). And the time flies. I don’t even have enough time to do all what I have scheduled to do.

That’s good, because keeping my mind busy, I don’t bother too much about the things outside the four walls that enclose the space that I call my home. But still, whatever I do, the anxiety had gone worse. I guess it’s a question about uncertainty: how long this will takes, will the life ever be the same, and in my case; can I travel anymore and see my friend.

It’s not just this corona thing, but I have some health issues, too, threatening the only thing that have kept me going after the death of my mum: travelling. I am happy being alone at home doing my things as you could understand according what I wrote above, but I still need something to charge my batteries. Now the fear of losing that might be the cause for the anxiety that is not going away.

I had some health issues already on my latest (last?) trip in October and I remember thinking that I might still be able to travel in 2020 (as travelling had became harder and harder)… And then happened this corona thing and took away that last (?) chance. At the moment there is not too much light, as I am almost on tears every time when I come home from the town and see how painful walking is. But if I still want to see my friend and other lovely people and visit new places and do all the things I had planned to do, I have to fight. Not only physically (I am seeing a doctor later this month), but mentally, too.

The River, May 1983

Maybe there will be some light, like those white “flowers” on the photograph above. I have a reason why I use these two pictures in this story: they were taken in May 1983 by the river between the town of Porvoo (my current hometown) and the village where I was living at the time. I was still living with my parents, I had my whole life in front of me and I was in the beginning of the “career” of a photographer, so to speak.

Yes, I have to fight mentally, too. I don’t have any kind of social safety net, I don’t see people with whom I could change thoughts. Being day in day out with my own thoughts can be harmful. In order to prevent that I try to do things that I enjoy. As I mentioned, I spend all my time working on my blog as I somehow believe it would lead to something. And going through my old negative archives is part of the project. And how much I enjoy it. I keep finding some great stuff, like this photo with the white flowers or whatever they are. I remembered the one with the boat (the first one), but didn’t realized that it is actually quite a nice photo, until I processed it. (Please click them to see them in full screen.)

The other thing is books. I love to browse bookshelves in second hand bookstores and sometimes I also buy new books. I always came back home from my trips with tons of books. In May I realized that I can always search books in online bookstores. And before too long it got out of hand. I just keep buying them, several books per week. For example this week I received five books. They are coming from all over the world. One was coming from Australia as I founded the cheapest copy (including postage) from one Australian bookshop.

I love to look for certain books, compare the prices, and order them. I love the excitement of waiting for my books arriving and finally having the real thing in my hands. I have also started pre-ordering stuff, which I never did before. At the moment I am waiting for 8 parcels containing book(s) and then there is one that will go to my friend (I hopefully will have a chance to collect it from him, otherwise I have to send him some money to post it to me) and besides books there are a couple of records on their way, too.

If these things help me going and retain my sanity, then it’s worth it. And that means, my dear readers, that there will be more and more blog entries consisting of my old photographs, and more and more book reviews, too.

Text and photos © Katriina Etholén

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