- Sammy Jo Diffendaffer, M.S., LMFT-Associate
How Having a False Reality Leads to Anxiety and Panic During a Global Crisis
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
While I won't begin to tackle any aspect of Covid-19 from a biological standpoint, psychologically speaking, there is a great deal to be learned from the recent pandemic and corresponding social behaviors.
1) If you were/are fearful of Covid-19, there is absolutely no shame in that. In fact, the fear you experienced around what could or would happen as a result of this virus is part of the very survival mechanism that has kept our species (and others) alive. IF you are a person within the at-risk population and you feel not just afraid, but sometimes terrified, I'm glad to hear your cognition and emotional response system are working together nicely to keep you alive.
2) If you look back and feel you did too much, perhaps you were someone who succumbed to panic-buying toilet paper when the outbreak first started. There's no need to be ashamed of that either. You responded early and in the best way you knew how.
So, aside from the obvious, (that our world was recently turned upside down in the throes of a pandemic) what has made Covid-19 an earth-shattering foe to our mental health? In part, it isn't in the virus itself, but in the false sense of security we blindly and rather naively place our comfort in on a day to day basis (when factors like a global health crisis aren't on the daily news, for example). Truth be told, we are always one millisecond, one novel and deadly virus, one poor driving decision, and one biological abnormality away from a complete upheaval of life as we know it. You may be thinking this is too much gloom and doom to be therapeutic, but sometimes gloom and doom IS therapeutic, and here's how.
True therapy is not in finding some false hope, some unrealistic optimism, or pretending that we are 100% fine and dandy with our current life situation when, deep down, we're not. Most often, the best kind of therapy, is in digging up the gloom and doom in our lives, looking it dead in the face and saying, "hmmm...yeah, I'm not sure I like that part, but I'd be a fool not to acknowledge that it's there." So, whether it be Covid-19 related, job related, or an issue with your family or friend relationships, pretending that we are not at risk in broken and mortal world, is where the greatest risk actually lies.
For those of you looking to find gratefulness in the midst of this tragedy and strife, I hope each day comes with a bit more warmth for the gift that one day, not only in the midst of a pandemic, but for the gift that one day always is.