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COVID-19 & Mask Phobia: What You Need To Know About This

I hope this won’t blow up in my face, but this will be tough as I am going to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and forcing people to wear masks in various places. This is my story regarding this issue.

First, I want to make a point that I am not against people wearing a mask. If you want to wear a mask, that’s on you.

In fact, and no offense, but this topic really has nothing to do with you. It also has nothing to do with the people who refuse to wear masks for no reason at all. This is for the people who medically and mentally can’t wear it or if you are someone like me and can’t even be around it at all.

And before you go bashing me and saying stuff like oh she’s making it up or oh she’s just making excuses, please allow me to explain. I was born with a rare gastric disorder called Gastroparesis and recently I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.

If you are not aware of what Gastroparesis is, its a condition that affects my stomach muscles and prevents it from emptying at a normal rate. Which basically means I have a paralyzed digestive system. Because of this, I have developed GERD or as you may know it as Acid Reflux and the way it affects me is I have a major drowning like sensation in my throat where it over-floods into my mouth and it has caused issues where I choke on my own saliva at times. I’ve been to many doctors about this, but they can’t figure out a way to help me. Now with my mental issues, I also deal with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

So what does this have to do with masks? Well, it used to not mean anything until April when it was forced on me.

At that time, I was working as a Direct Care Worker working with people with disabilities. It was Wednesday morning at my client’s home. My client has a roommate with their own worker. Normally my shift goes by with ease, but that day didn’t go as planned. My co-worker, knowing I have anxiety, went to her client’s guardian and basically told them that we should be wearing masks and they should make it mandatory.

So my co-worker left and came back with masks and threw one at me and forced me to wear it. It caused me to go into a full panic attack. After 30 minutes of trying to calm down, I was finally able to put the mask on. After that, I was completely frozen and unable to do anything or even talk. I remember being in tears and I know for a fact that I dissociated at least 3 times. Once my shift was over, I got out of there as fast as I could.

I was off the next day and spoke with my supervisor. My supervisor said that there wasn’t a requirement to wear masks and as long as I stayed away from my client’s roommate, I didn’t have to wear one.

So the next day I went to work kinda nervous, but ready to get the shift over with. When I got there my heart was beating really fast so to calm myself down, I went outside to breathe for a few minutes as I felt like I was gonna pass out. The next thing I knew, the same co-worker that I worked with last time came outside with the mask on and got in my face and asked me what my deal was.

I felt so sick and shaky and was trying my best not to panic. I told her that I just needed a few minutes to calm down, but she kept at me saying why don’t I have a mask on. I told her that I spoke with our supervisor and she said that I am not required to wear one as long as I am not near my co-worker’s client and if she had a problem with it to call her.

She was so pissed off that she started yelling at me stating that if I’m not going to wear the mask that I am contaminating the whole house. This caused me to go into full panic mode. I had called my supervisor and told her everything that had happened and due to my mental state, I needed to leave.

Ever since then, when I see someone wearing a mask or even looking at pictures of masks, it triggers a full-blown panic attack to the point where I smell death. I can’t even have it in my car or house. So due to this, I stay home and look for remote work and working with my therapist virtually every week.

I have to order my groceries online and then my husband goes and picks them up for me. I can no longer go with my husband to his doctor appointments out of fear of the masks.

So for those of you who love bashing people on Facebook saying stuff like get over it, its just a mask. No, it’s not just a mask. It’s a real traumatic issue that I have to deal with for the rest of my life or until this pandemic is over. Hell, this is more traumatic than me remembering that I was sexually abused by my dad’s best friend when I was a child.

So instead of bashing others, maybe you should stop and really think as there might be more going on with that person who doesn’t wear the mask. Better yet, just stay far away from that person and mind your own business.

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