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I Can't Stop Thinking in Worst-Case Scenarios About the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic is serious, and cities across the world have buckled down. Everyone has been advised to stay inside. This is what it’s like for someone with anxiety: 

You see, when I say, “I’m worried everyone I love will die,” I don’t mean that as a joke, or in a blasé way. I don’t mean I’m mildly concerned for the wellfare of my loved ones. I don’t mean there’s a chance I’ll lose a loved one to this illness. I mean everyone I love will die and I’ll have to slowly watch them deteriorate before me, leaving me the last one standing, alone, isolated, unable to provide for the rest of my life because I haven’t even started university yet, and am fully reliant on my parents.

When I say, “I’m worried I’ll get the coronavirus, I don’t mean it as a joke. I don’t mean it as it’ll inconvenience my day-to-day life. I mean I’m terrified I’ll get it once everyone I love has died from it, and I’ll have to suffer through it alone. Or I’m worried my loved ones will have to watch me die from it. That I’ll end up in ICU, even with no preexisting conditions.

When I say, “Oh my gosh, I think I have the coronavirus,” I don’t mean that as an exaggeration. I mean I feel slightly hot, my chest has gotten tight and there’s an itch in my throat. All of this could just be my head, but it feels so real and I can’t stop it. It’s the start. I’m going to die. My anxiety spirals and I’m convinced it’s my last week, day, hour on the earth.

As someone with anxiety the constant information about the virus, while it’s great to raise awareness, is killing me.

I’m washing my hands too many times to the point that my hands are red raw and so dry, they’re chapped. But at least they’re clean.

I’m checking my temperature over 10 times a day, and cry if it’s gone up even 0.1 degrees.

I’m self-isolating without even being infected. Refusing to go to support groups and therapy out of fear I’ll catch it. I don’t even want to go out to get my medication.

I’m checking in on family, every day, every hour, every minute, making sure they’re OK. If someone coughs near me I freeze, curl up in a ball and have a panic attack.

As someone with anxiety this isn’t just a pandemic — it feels like the end of the world. Armageddon. So please, if someone you love has anxiety, check in on them during this time, listen to their seemingly silly ideas and worries, and make them feel less alone.

Yes, we need to self-isolate physically, but some with anxiety are doing it mentally, too. We need to know we’re not alone.

Concerned about coronavirus? Stay informed with these articles:

Getty image via Mykyta Dolmatov

Originally published: April 7, 2020
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