In July 2020 I wrote a blog post titled ‘Why I won’t wear a face mask!‘ where I spoke about how PTSD and the anxiety meant I couldn’t wear one, but since then I can’t wear but will wear a face mask!
I won’t go into the details of why, but in the late 80s I started having anxiety attacks, over the past three decades they have severely impacted my life and the life of my family and about 5 years ago I was told it was PTSD.
When COVID-19 hit, it didn’t massively affect me because I rarely go out, but when I did go out, wearing a facemask sent me spiralling and I just couldn’t do it!
Despite the fact that wearing a facemask sends my heart racing, my mind goes into overdrive and the release of adrenalin has many effects on my body, I have now been wearing one when I have had to go out.
That is because the fear of getting COVID-19 scares the shit out of me so much, that I would rather face the anxiety attacks wearing a mask.
It isn’t the fact that I am scared about getting COVID-19 itself, it is more the fear of being taken into hospital and not having any family able to be there and of course the fact that during the massive wave of cases that hit the UK, we had Do Not Resuscitate orders forced on disabled people!
And so the fear of that was so great that I forced myself to endure wearing a face mask!
I still find it very difficult to wear one, but by forcing myself to wear one, I have become slightly desensitised to it and I no longer end up in full melt down.
Now at this point I have to say that this is my story, this is about me and what I have done and in no way is it me saying that people who say they can’t, must just force themselves to.
Please respect those that can’t wear a mask for physical or mental health reasons!
Smell the flowers!
I trained and completed the fire fighting course at RAF Manston many, many years ago and I have been using a technique taught to me by one of the instructors. CPO Chris Brickley (yes a Navy guy) told us that if we were to become trapped whilst wearing breathing apparatus, we should just keep still, control our breathing in order to preserve what air we had left and to “Smell the flowers”.
In other words, we should try and meditate, I guess! I remember sitting there in the classroom with breathing apparatus on and trying to reduce our rate of breathing and heart rate as much as we could.
And I have been using that to get through wearing a mask when I am out!
The last time I was out, was for the 3rd Covid Jab, I was booked in for 2pm and my wife then got a text that day for hers, so too late to book in and so she went as a walk in and so we were in two separate queues. It was busy, so busy and so I am sat there in my wheelchair in a queue and my heart was racing, my mind was racing and I was telling myself “Smell the flowers!”.
I thought I was internalising it, but I looked over and Donna saw me and mouthed, “Are you okay? Do you need me?” and so she could clearly see that I was not okay, despite the fact I had a mask on and she was 30 feet away.
But I did it, I broke the time up and just told myself to get through to this point of the queue and then the next bit and slowed my breathing down and told myself “Smell the flowers!”
And I did it!
I will never be okay wearing a mask, it triggers the PTSD and the anxiety rushes in but I have to do it because if I get COVID-19, I won’t just be in a queue and then escape an hour later. I could be in hospital and unable to escape, and I know that would be much harder.