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Day 2 (I think) of quarantine. After a night battling off a panic attack, I got to thinking. I've spent a lifetime obsessed w/ disasters & how we cope w/ them. That means that I have access to hoards of random information about the psychology of situations like this. Cos I'm odd.
So, in the interest of not losing my damn mind, I'm going to share w/ you what I know. In the hopes that it will be of some use to you. My plan is to do what I can, when I can, and if anyone has questions about the psychology of this, I will do my best to answer them.
Let's begin w/ where we are now. We're in it. It's happening. And it SUCKS. Research shows that, in this phase, we're all going about assessing what this situation means to us. Not just in terms of practical things, but also in terms of our sense of identity.
This is a tough one. Anything that challenges our sense of identity takes a LOT of emotional processing. I'm an author. But suddenly, I'm a home-schooling mother who is worrying about feeding her family. That's a whole hell of a lot to deal with in terms of who I see myself as.
This change in identity also takes a lot of mental processing. This means that we think about it ALL THE DAMN TIME. We are trying to build a mental model of our new world. Sometimes, this can make us afraid that we are going insane.
This cognitive work is tiring. It's really normal to feel tired and burnt out all the time. Check and check. It feels that our entire world is made up of this damn virus. That it has come to define us. And for a while, until we figure out a way to function within it, it has.
It is completely normal to struggle with concentration, to find yourself being forgetful or even to have dreams about our current situation. Don't forget, your brain is working really damn hard to process this. Things are going to slide.
It's really normal to be sad. It's also normal to feel absolutely nothing as our brains work to deal with all this. When the shock wanes, the emotions will come in. This can take some time, but again, that's normal.
It's also normal to feel an intense need to be with the ones we love, with even minor separations causing real stress. Of course, being in QUARANTINE WITH THOSE LOVED ONES FOR 14 DAYS may deal with that particular issue...
The good news, is that once our brains begin to fully process this situation, our sense of loss and fear is usually replaced w/ a sense of optimism, the feeling that you can DO something to make a difference. Blitz spirit, if you will.
Remember that these things have no straight lines. Some days we may feel effective, the next like we are falling apart. That is absolutely and utterly normal. Just remember that the next day will come and that this too will pass.
Anxiety, grief for the world that has ground to a halt, anger, all of these things are normal responses. It is not fun. However, it is necessary. Research shows that those who cope best are those who allow themselves to feel what they feel without fighting it.
Remember these emotions do not define you. They're a normal response to a deeply abnormal situation. They will come and they will go, & there will come a point at which all of this is in your past. It will have changed you. But, for most people, these situations build resiliency
I'm going to go and have a cup of tea now. I may possibly cry. Or I may laugh, who the hell knows. I am hoping that tomorrow I will be able to talk to you a little about coping, about how we can make this a little easier on ourselves. Hang in there, guys. We've got this.
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