No one needs to be reminded of the pandemic we’re in the midst of. We live it every day. The novel coronavirus has attacked with a vengeance, proving that no one is safe from its ruins.
The actuality of being quarantined and the practice of social distancing have resulted in the hoarding of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and food. The upsurge in the number of people contracting the virus, declining in health, or passing away is a sobering verity.
The hysteria surrounding the virus is extreme, and most of us are stressed out. We are on high alert, which adds to the anxiety experienced by many of us with multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses. The intent of this week’s column is to encourage you to remain calm and be careful.
This is undeniably a catastrophic time in our nation. Social distancing has many feeling isolated and overwhelmed. We are instructed to remain in our homes to protect ourselves and others. Our communities are struggling with depression and displacement. Every aspect of our lives, from the economy to the healthcare system, is compromised.
We are cognizant of what is lacking. As people living with MS and chronic illness, we are vigilant in using caution with our care. Compromised immune systems render us human petri dishes to bacteria and viruses.
Many of the self-care, safety precautions, and prevention protocols are already practiced in our communities. Hand washing, sanitizing, and disinfecting are the norm. Staying in when we are ill or requesting that others stay away when they are ill are common practice. However, we know that not everyone follows directions.
Lack of control and fear of the unknown can quickly spiral me into bouts of anxiety. Days ago, I experienced a panic attack. At that moment, I had a “sole session” (pun intended). I cautioned myself to recollect the ruinous effects of fear and anxiety. Both lower immune response and pilfer peace and serenity from my existence. I resolved that much of this pandemic is beyond my mastery.
I would like to share with you a few techniques that help me manage fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Just as the manifestation of our illnesses and symptoms are different, so are our coping mechanisms. Please take what you need.
Being intentional with information outlets
Listening to the news all day, every day is triggering. I acknowledge that staying informed is a necessity, but it also can be excessive and contribute to feelings of depression. Social media outlets sometimes propel hysteria. I listen to the medical professionals, take the proper precautions to ensure my safety, and disconnect from television and social media when I feel overwhelmed.
An extrovert and socialite by nature, I like to converse and congregate with people. Hearing the term social distancing increased my mental anguish. I have since resolved that social distancing is not isolation. Maintaining relationships extends far beyond physical interactions. Utilizing various methods to communicate with our circles and communities via phone and computer apps such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc. allows virtual communication without endangering safety.
My mind is like the Energizer Bunny. It goes and goes and goes. There is always something to do and not enough time to complete the desired tasks. Social distancing has allotted the time to focus and complete some of the items on my to-do list. I have spent a considerable amount of time organizing and purging clutter. Feeling accomplished, I am happy to have the time to begin — and hopefully complete — more of my projects.
Pep talks and affirmations
Telling myself “I can do this” encourages me. I have survived obstacles I never would have imagined. Still, I stand. Perseverance and resilience are my superpowers.
I am a believer. Prayer changes things, including anxiety, and it sustains me.
This will be one of the most difficult times of our lives. Life as we know it has changed. COVID-19 again reminds me of the fragility of life, how quickly things can change, and how interconnected we are.
Acknowledging that our actions have a domino effect is an awakening truth. It is my belief that we will emerge stronger, wiser, and united. My wish is that you stay safe and that you savor the beauty of time amid the chaos.
You are invited to follow my website at www.teresawrightjohnson.com.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.
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