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The Intense Emotion I'm Facing During the COVID-19 Pandemic – Guilt

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has raised a new specter in my struggle with depression. It’s almost… a survivor’s guilt.

I’m still jobless and supported by charity and my family despite having two kids to take care of. My wife’s work is complicated by the fact that she has to take care of all three of us, including making sure I’m not a danger to myself.

When the news first came of COVID-19 spreading into my country, it still seemed so surreal. But increasingly, as controls were put in place, as the news of the second wave spreading through the European Union and the U.S. came in, as the number of deaths increased, I found myself feeling more and more guilty.

The news doesn’t just focus on the illness itself. Fairly so, the news that the world almost definitely will go into a financial recession is also highlighted. And this leads to my guilt.

Guilt that I am not working. Guilt that I don’t have a job to worry about. Maybe the charitable funds will dry up? But I already am a dependent anyway in that sense. Guilt that others worry about their loved ones. Guilt that I’m supposed to work on learning to simply enjoy the moment while others are forced to give up precious freedoms for the sake of public health. Guilt that I actually love the solitude and peace everywhere. Guilt that I still want to hurt myself because of the guilt.

Guilt that I have therapy homework undone. Guilt that I haven’t reached my goals set down during the last session even though I was expressly reminded that I can be flexible. Guilt that I have to go back to see my pregnant therapist during this very challenging time because I am considered at risk.

Staying present helps for a few minutes. Rumination is just too easy. Playing video games helps to distract a little, but then I feel disgusted and guilty that I have video games to play. I have some actual work to do with a publisher on the side, and that is probably the only thing I don’t feel guilty about as I do this from home anyway. But with all the mental tension and warring, I’m tired and can’t focus for long each time.

And then I feel guilty for it.

I don’t know. Is there a solution? Admitting it has helped me so much. It took me three weeks of getting more angry and irritable before I admitted to myself that the guilt is eating me up. And a little anxiety about the whole COVID-19 situation. I don’t like seeing others hurt, and I wish I could do more.

I go to therapy tomorrow, after I write this. Hopefully my therapist will be able to help too. I can’t do this alone.

So if you struggle too, remember. You’re not fighting this war in your head alone.

Can you relate to Jianlong? Let him know in the comments below.

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Getty image via kieferpix

Originally published: March 25, 2020
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