How I Coped (And Didn’t Cope) With Anxiety Due To A Natural Disaster

Hi friends.

It has been a while again. I’m trying desperately to prioritize this blog because I think it can be a real outlet for me, but I keep allowing other life happenings to intervene. Freelance work, genera life stress, and travel have all kind of put my blog on the back burner. They say the third time’s the charm, right?

Right.

Anyway, as anyone who does not live under a rock knows, Florida had it’s world rocked by a big ass lady named Irma. Hurricane Irma, that is.

As a resident of the Tampa Bay Area, I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous. For a hot minute, the eye of a category 4 storm was supposed to pass right over us. By some stroke of luck, the path changed and the storm weakened, so the damage was way less than what it could have been. I feel so, so lucky and my heart has been shattered into a million pieces for the all of the Caribbean islands, the Florida Keys, and Naples, all of which got SLAMMED by the brunt of the storm. The damage left in Irma’s wake is nothing short of devastating. If you aren’t trying to recover from the storm yourself, please consider donating to relief efforts by picking a charity from here.

Now that the storm has passed and I am in recovery mode, I wanted to talk about what I did right and what I did wrong when it came to dealing with the anxiety surrounding this bighugegiant storm that I had NO control over. I personally struggle a great deal with things outside of my control, so I wanted to share my triumphs and my pitfalls in hope of improving in the future with personal accountability and hopefully helping someone else who struggles that same as I do.

What I did right

I prepared – Sean and I got supplies in the event that hunkering down was going to be our reality. The amount of Chef Boyardee in my pantry could feed a small army. You better believe that what’s left is going to be donated to a food kitchen next week.

I got materials to relax – I picked up books I placed on hold at the library, I charged up my kindle, and I bought a variety pack of potato chips. If I was going to be offline, I was going to enjoy my favorite treats: reading and crunchy, salty snacks.

I let my boss and my loved ones know my whereabouts – Sean and I ended up going to his parents on the other side of the state when the Saturday advisory had Tampa bearing the impact. Listening to my gut – which was saying, “GET OUT NOW AND BE SAFE!” – ensured that we were in a place with plenty of food, water, shutters up on the windows, and love.

What I did wrong

I panicked – I felt like Sean and I were under-prepared, and I had a few meltdowns with lots and lots of tears in the days leading up to the storm. The uncertainty had me so worried and my stomach got so, so sick. The headaches, the nausea, the upset stomach all just really didn’t help me do what I needed to be doing.

I allowed my stress to make me mean – Normally I’m the happy friend, the friend you go to when YOU need a pick-me-up, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, etc. That was absolutely not the case when I was feeling so anxious around this storm. For example, I got really mean when communicating with Sean. I let my emotions and feelings of being scared get to me, and I projected them as anger toward my partner. That was a huge mistake and I apologized for my behavior. Lucky for me, Sean is incredibly gracious and understood why my behavior was happening. I also got mean with some of my friends. In being so wrapped up in my own emotions, I did a terrible job of being a friend to them with THEIR issues. I got snippy, I ignored text messages – I was basically the opposite of my loving, supportive self.

I am struggling to bounce back – The storm passed and…I’m still super anxious. The idea of cleaning up and going back to reality feels totally overwhelming and daunting, and I am really struggling to get back into some kind of routine or normal-ness. I know I’ll get there eventually, but my brain is on gloom-and-doom overdrive.

What I learned

Sometimes we win our battles with anxiety, other times we lose. This time I would say that anxiety has gotten the better of me, but I have at least identified it and can learn from it.

I hope that those of you who weathered the storm are faring well,  and I send all my best wishes (and my donations) to those who are still in need of help surviving, rebuilding, and healing.

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