anxiety contagion factor…

When other little girls were dreaming up their perfect weddings or playing MASH I was coming up with elaborate plans for apocalypse survival. Since there were any number of possible apocalypse scenarios, there were, of course, any number of apocalypse causes. Therefore, I needed a number of plans to ensure I would not only survive, but thrive. To some this may seem morose, but it’s one of the coping mechanisms that helped me through some of the most challenging times in my life.

It also made me a natural planner.

My drive to evaluate the worst case scenario—and be both emotionally and tangibly prepared for it—has made me a force to be reckoned with in both scheduled happenings and unscheduled emergencies. It has also, admittedly, driven some of my dearest humans a bit nuts as they watched me spiral into any number of dark scenarios and listened to me talk for days on end about the same topic until I had exhausted all possibilities and then repeated a few.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s frantic. And to some it may seem nonsensical. But it’s who I am and have always been. And this was, for whatever reason, one of the things I most feared losing when I started taking anti-anxiety meds two years ago. I was afraid that my anxiety contributed so heavily to anything that made me special. Made me unique. Who I am. That made me, me.

Enter the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Respectful pause.

I’m not going to talk much about COVID-19 except to say that my rational mind sees that this is something that needs to be seriously gauged and considered. That we should do all that we reasonably can to stem the tide of infection. With more than 119,000 confirmed cases worldwide and no way to know what un-identified infection numbers are like this is nothing to be taken lightly.

My emotional mind isn’t in a panic, but it is in apocalypse preparation mode. No, I’m not one of those folx who gutted the stores of water, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. But I did add a few necessary items to our emergency kit and stocked up on frozen vegetables, fresh fruit with a long shelf life, dried beans, coffee, protein, and grains. And some candy because sometimes you just need chocolate. (Apocalypse be damned!) Plus cat food (because they can’t be expected to fend on their own), medications, tampons, acetaminophen, and shit. Well, not technically “shit.” But proverbially shit. Because those all go great with chocolate. I mean, wait. Shit doesn’t got well with chocolate.

Oh shit. You know what I mean.

My daughter would like never to hear about coronavirus, contagion, or event cancellations ever ever again. My partner is most assuredly hoping I stop asking him if there’s anything he’d like me to pick up in case we need it and can’t go get it. My browser is certainly prepared to crash if I refresh the global infection map one more time today.

From that one time I had pneumonia and bronchitis and was sick for more than a month and the doctors asked me to wear a mask so I didn’t get other people sick.
Seriously cover your mouth when you cough. Because my ear is permanently fucked now.

But the more I read and the more I know the less I feel that I’m acting from a place of panic and the more I feel I am finally approaching things with a level head. You see, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder aren’t the only things wrong with me. In addition to those super fun issues I have Hypertension. Which means that, although I am no more likely to contract novel coronavirus, I am in a group more likely to suffer complications (you know, like death) if I am infected.

She’s overreacting – you say

Maybe. Maybe a little. But I’ve helped multiple organizers on multiple contents cancel multiple events over the last month. I’ve watched as cities, counties, states, and countries declare themselves in a state of emergency. I’ve sat tense reading along as Italy places the entire country on lockdown. Cancelling weddings. Cancelling funerals. Cancelling little kids’ birthday parties. And movies. NO MOVIE THEATER MOVIES.

So right now my biggest anxiety is trying to figure out if my need to have my home and family ready for a COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic is smart or crazy. And more importantly, am I doing anything to increase anxiety in others or just annoyingly babbling at my loved ones in a harmless way?

Either way… I hope I have enough chocolate and bourbon.

Featured image by Dale Nibbe on Unsplash