RT @anxiety: lmao corona virus be like “you’re all going to die” ha ha lol

I’m pretty scared of getting COVID19.

It’s not a sentence I ever thought I would say, but here I am, barely leaving the house, because I’m pretty scared of getting COVID19.

Being on the internet where cases, first hand reports, and straight up scaremongering are dripping onto your timeline every second of every day is a bad thing, I think. A map that shows live reports of cases and deaths is also not great.

Our brains aren’t built to live in this constant state of panic. There is such a thing as being too informed.

I’m not worrying unnecessarily, but fear doesn’t always have to be rational. I have life long asthma. I carry at least two inhalers on me at all points and I have been in the hospital because of breathing difficulties more than once in recent years.

I live in Canada, but my entire family and support network are in the UK. If I was hospitalized, I would be hospitalized alone. I’m not sure how comprehensive my health insurance is here, and I’m worried that I wouldn’t have somebody to speak up for me if I came down with pneumonia.

If I went back to the UK and became ill I’m not feeling positive about my chance of survival. The NHS in non-crisis times means hospitals over capacity, with patients dying in the hallways because they aren’t enough resources. Now imagine the NHS in a pandemic. Would I live?

All of these worries are scary but manageable, just about.

Until I check social media.

The UK has run out of toilet paper because people are stock piling.

Italy is quarantining the Northern parts.

The daily death counts are in.

Canada has its first death.

The US says there isn’t a problem but an anonymous Doctor posted on Twitter that there was.

Italy is quarantining the whole country.

The daily death counts are in.

It’s an epidemic.

Asthma UK are working on some guidance.

My chest hurts.

It’s a pandemic.

An MP is ill.

The daily death counts are in.

It’s constant. It’s never positive. It fills my head morning, noon, and night. I can’t stop scrolling until 2am, I can’t sleep until 3. My chest hurts. The daily death counts are in.

The World Health Organization issued guidance on dealing with the mental toll of living inside a developing crisis. Avoid watching and reading news that makes you anxious. Take practical steps to prepare for any eventuality. Get the facts, only look at the facts. Sleep well. Eat enough. Be mindful. Look after yourself.

But what about my mental health?

The best way I can look after my body is by staying inside, keeping my lungs away from other people, resting up, being alone. The only way I can keep my brain good is by going outside, breathing fresh air, talking to people, exercising.

How do you find a balance?

When we’re nervous or anxious our body floods itself with adrenaline. Which is a great way to keep us alive in life or death situations, but not a pleasant place to sit on a daily basis.

Adrenaline can cause shortness of breath, chest pains, and asthma attacks.

Being on high alert to the possibility of my lungs not working is causing my lungs to work less. It’s a cycle and I’m (we’re) trapped.

But by consuming this anxiety through social media I’m feeding into the addiction cycle of the scroll.

I’m staying inside, to keep my lungs good. But I need some human connection, to keep my brain good. I can’t just switch off social media.

For many people suffering from anxiety, the internet can be a safe place to retreat into. To look at nice people baking nice cakes, or nice people whispering nice quiet sounds, or nice people posting photos of their nice dogs.

I’m not a UX designer, but if I was to build the internet from scratch I don’t think I’d put the bits that induce anxiety right alongside the bits that calm it.

How do you find a balance?

Being able to consciously detach from the pandemic is a privileged position. This isn’t my daily reality. I don’t have family in lockdown, I’m not experiencing homelessness, I have access to adequate sanitation. My physical and mental health are generally good. I’m not going to become bankrupt if I become ill.

One thing that is helping me is donating money to causes that help those who are in a worse spot than myself. Not everybody has this luxury but it helps me feel like I’m participating in the resistance, rather than sitting helplessly at home, waiting to become ill.

Outside of that, I’m checking the facts and the facts only.

For now I’ve muted all of the words I can think of on Twitter, and I’m staying away from Facebook. I’m not clicking any articles on Slack or any emails in my inbox.

We should try to stay informed. But we should seek out the facts. Checking reliable sources once or twice a day. Turning off push notifications. I don’t need to see the daily death counts. I don’t need the interactive map.

And I’m hoping that both my lungs and my brain stay good.

Places to donate:

  • Your local food bank: stockpiling is devastating for those who live paycheque to paycheque or rely on food assistance. Pop in some tins, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and long life goods. Check your local food bank website to see what they’re most in need of
  • Your local homeless shelter or charity: those without access to washing facilities are more at risk, your local shelter will appreciate donations as it allows them to keep more people safe
  • Doctors Without Borders: donate to Doctors Without Borders to help them continue to provide healthcare to people across the world
  • Help Refugees: donate to Help Refugees to help provide resources, medicine, and sanitation to refugee camps

British lass in Canada, writing about politics, pop culture, feminism, class, being a millennial, telly, and myself. Tweet me @blerhgh

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