What Do We Have to Fear?
I have no anxiety about dying.
If true, why am I so afraid of a painful and gruesome death?
I remember how terrified my aunt was of being alone when she died.
Desperately, I tried to comfort her fear by reminding her of her faith. “All the angels in heaven will be there to greet you and surround you in your moment of death. You will never be alone.”
My words did not decrease her anxiety.
Today, many of us are afraid of dying of Covid-19.
The testimony of so many healthcare workers solidifies that fear for so many. How do we cope with it all?
“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
— William Allen White
Anxiety Links to our Desire to Survive.
Early man learned to run, hide, or freeze when in danger.
As a child, I remember the anxiety I felt hiding in the closet under the steps to escape from my father.
At night, I slept with my knees pulled up to my chest, anchored by my arms and clasped fingers.
As we grow older, we tend to internalize the fears, whether imagined or real.
Our capacity to experience fear has allowed us to survive as we escape that which threatens us.
It can also be an underlying cause of high blood pressure, stomach upsets, stroke, and heart attacks.
“Laughter is poison to fear.”
— George R.R. Martin
I can’t minimize the fears we experience.
The memories of life after my brain injury are still far too vivid to discount the constant anxiety I experience when triggered.
I based my fight for survival on my two little boys.
There was nothing I wouldn’t try to help ensure I could mother them the way they deserved.
Harness Your Fear
I’ve written about the day I realized the referral I received wasn’t to a neurologist as I believed, but to a psychiatrist.
In addition to all the injuries sustained when the truck hit my car, I was having symptoms that I knew were unrelated to the wreck. That fact made them no less debilitating. I was a mess physically, and yet one of the doctors thought I was only crazy.
I was angrier than I’ve ever been in my life.
When I walked into the poor psychiatrist’s office, I pointed my finger at him and told him it was my turn to talk.
I’d kept my mouth shut and followed instructions for five years at that point. I no longer controlled my life or my destiny. The white coats who had no more than 15 minutes to spare with me had determined they no longer wanted to listen to my increasing list of unrelated symptoms.
The psychiatrist sat silent as my anger flowed loudly from all the pent-up frustration of losing five years of my life, with no end in sight.
A New Beginning
When I finished, he leaned back in his chair and laughed.
Then he leaned toward me with his arms folded on his desk.
“You are not crazy.”
He said that!
“You are probably the most well-put-together person who has ever walked through that door. There is something wrong, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
In that instant, I realized that I could rechannel my fear into something positive. This man listened and heard every word I uttered.
He asked me a few more questions before sending me down to the lab for a blood test.
That test came back off-the-charts positive for lupus.
The trauma of the brain, neck, and back injuries had triggered an autoimmune response that had crippled me for over five years.
One doctor listened to all my symptoms and had a diagnosis in less than an hour.
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”
— Japanese Proverb
Suddenly a new fear was introduced: Covid-19.
I gathered dried soup mixes at the end of January in case of a food shortage.
I did not buy up all the toilet paper.
Fortunately, I ordered three containers of Clorox Wipes and a rather expensive water filter in case the city wasn’t able to meet clean water standards.
I purchased two large roasts, six pounds of hamburger, and then waited.
I can’t imagine the heartbreak for those who have lost someone they love during all this.
My heart is relieved that my two sons are no longer first responders, but I also know how much they would have mattered to those they would have cared for during this crisis.
Turn your fear into action.
Educate yourself on how to protect yourself and your home from the spread of the virus.
If you do go back to work, make a list of your safety requirements and adhere to them regardless of what your boss says.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
— Rosa Parks
The virus is real.
It can kill you – or not.
You can overcome your fear.
Read suggestions from trusted sources. You have the power to make decisions to protect yourself and your family.
We can all survive the virus scare if we approach it as a solvable problem.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
— Marcus Aurelius