Staying Sane in a Mad, Mad World

Any little bit of positivity we can hear or read about amidst the Coronavirus outbreak is a good thing in my view. I appreciate every positive story shared as a wonderful counter to the regular scary news stories we are being inundated with (probably rightly so). Positivity gives us a small dose of sanity in a world that has seemingly gone mad.

As someone who grew up with a Chicken Little mentality and now lives with PTSD, while no expert on pandemics, I do have a lot of experience dealing with the power of fear of the unknown and the nervousness and panic that quickly sets in. All of which is currently happening in much of the global environment that to be fair, is understandable in many ways.

Fear is a basic human emotion in response to real or perceived impending danger. We react to negative stimuli anywhere from mild caution to extreme phobia. Globally, we seem to be somewhere in the middle as we scramble in our various countries to comply with the recommendations and orders being broadcast daily to battle or prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As boomers, my husband and I have seen our fair share of personal and world crises. We are complying with the protocols in place where we live (so far, no confirmed COVID-19 cases in our community that we know of) and arming ourselves with as much knowledge as we can related to our concerns: i.e. which appointments we should cancel (all in person ones) and what we still can do (take walks, grocery shop).

While it’s been easy to give up going for our regular coffee outings (hello Nespresso) and we have had no trouble with social distancing because we live fairly isolated anyway having the luxury to work at home, being severely curtailed as part of a global, national and in our smaller respective communities has been a challenging mindset to adopt. It’s hard not to feel swayed by the panic and hoarding.

Additionally, watching our millennial offspring demonstrating concerns above normal has been disconcerting (turns out he’s been right on with his assessment). An article I came across this morning has helped me understand, at least in part, why this generational phenomenon may be occurring.

As boomers, we are part of a huge group of people who have lived through global crises (including in our own countries) and at an age where we were old enough to know we could be harmed. Seriously (think the Cold War). We know we are not invincible, yet have to make sensible decisions within the larger context. Many in the younger generations have not lived through or personally felt threatened by any number of global crises going on. Certainly, both my husband and I can’t recall ever experiencing fear and panic on this level. I truly believe that social media does two things: isolates us from our experiences and distances us from reality. Having COVID-19 hit us in our backyards has made things more real.

Amidst it all, it is essential that we all remain calm and reassure our kids and each other we will be okay. It is essential that we do not let ourselves get swept into the panic (grocery delivery in our area is a week out if you want it) and confusing messaging. Schools are closed but daycares open (go figure). Social distancing is critical but its business as usual. Some employees must report to work even in sectors where public buildings and services have shut down to the public. Other employees have been told to work at home. There is major concern about a shortage of food, masks, respirators, access to hospital beds (oh yes, and toilet paper).

Without ultra-transparent health information (i.e. authorities are not disclosing which communities have active cases of COVID-19 where we live), it’s understandable everyone, everywhere is feeling paranoid and second-guessing their level of compliance with state of emergency orders (we have two here – public and health).

How to stay sane?

Sharing as someone who has years of experience living with PTSD from my child’s suicide in 2005, I have no choice but to keep things in perspective if I don’t want to go mad. Panic is not good for my mental health or that of anyone around me. I have found that amidst the worst of all troubles, there are always solutions. There are ways to ensure calm prevails (no need to panic). There is enough (no need to hoard). When we are kind and considerate of each other because we are all in this together, there’s no need to be afraid or act selfishly.

As bad as it is, the COVID-19 pandemic gives us the perfect opportunity to step back and appreciate all that we do have, remembering there will always be somebody worse off. It is essential we send our prayers for their protection, recovery and resources as cliché as this may sound.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to have our health or if sick, access to medical care, the ability to stay warm and comfortable indoors with enough financial resources to see us through each day during this topsy-turvy economy, it helps to live simply and stay grateful.

Two things my mom taught me

I am extremely grateful growing up with a mom who knew how to make something out of nothing. She was the most resourceful person I’ve ever known and I’m thankful for the little bit that rubbed off on me. Yesterday, the smell of simple homemade soup and fresh baked bread warmed my heart (though I confess to buying a bread machine).

I miss the inspiring conversations I used to have with my mom (she passed in 2010). Here are the two things she taught me to think about in times of crisis or great challenge – herself having survived childhood trauma and the added tragedy in her grandma years of my daughter’s death:

  1. Do you have enough for today?
  2. What is the worst that can happen?

If we keep things in perspective, do our part to comply with what’s been deemed responsible in our communities to help out and keep each other safe, and trust there are solutions to every challenge (working with angels for 15 years has shown me that over and over), we can feel certain that this too shall pass. We will prevail. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic reminds me of all that can be reborn from any chaos, despite what it may look like today. There are lessons in it for everyone.

Stay safe. Stay snug.

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Feature Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay; Kitty Image by Dimitri Houtteman from Pixabay; Penguins Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay;