I am a catastrophizer. When there is a scenario where things could possibly go wrong, my brain will think of every possible outcome it can, figure out which of those outcomes are the worst ones, and then it makes a plan for how to mitigate it or live with it.
For many years of my life this pattern of thinking could often leave me almost paralyzed. The anxiety that would accompany it would overwhelm my system and I’d not be able to focus on anything else. It would take major effort to bring myself back to now and convince myself that I was spending needless energy worrying about an outcome that might not happen.
Today a variety of versions of the worst possible outcome are playing out in front of our eyes. And somehow, I’m functioning. There is a part of me that seems to be handling all of this remarkably well.
It isn’t that I’m not afraid or anxious at all...
I am very afraid of my body’s response should I find myself infected with COVID19. My brain plays out a scenario of me arriving at the ER with breathing difficulties and being told that there are no beds available; that I can’t get treatment because the hospitals are overwhelmed.
I am worried about my older friends and other friends with heart and lung conditions.
I am worried about friends who are losing their jobs.
I’m worried about people suffering needlessly because our country is so bad at dealing with this.
But I’m also feeling resolved.
Maybe it’s because I catastrophize so much that now that the catastrophe is here my brain feels prepared. Or maybe it’s just because there is nothing else I can do. There is a sense of calm…almost serenity…that comes with recognizing that you only have so much control and the rest is completely out of your hands.
I can only do what I can to protect myself here at home. My housemates are also doing all that they can. We are supporting each other through this.
I check in on my friends and family, and I pray that they will be safe too.
My ability to share resources and offer support has been curtailed by my doctor’s orders to stay away from the world for the next couple of weeks (at least) but I’m even finding other ways to do this. Writing is one of my best tools for building connection and community and so I make use of it to share information, to share my story, to respond to yours.
How are you doing? How are you coping?
Let those you love know how you feel.
Wash your hands.