I said I was going to write something every day while we are going through the Covid-19 situation in the country. I want people to see how it impacts someone with schizophrenia. Of course, I can’t speak to everyone’s experience, only my own. I hope it helps some of you feel less alone, less fearful, and more of a sense of community.
Although this isn’t what I most want to share with you, I do want to mention that today, I felt the first social impact of the virus. I had to cancel a much-needed coffee date with one of my best friends because I am sneezing and have a runny nose. I am afraid that these two symptoms of the common cold will scare people and possibly anger them because I am out in public, exposing others. My husband said he coughed at the bus stop today, but no one said anything. I’m glad people didn’t curse him out or something – fear in many people is running high. (Just so you know, I think that people who are sick should always stay home and not risk getting others sick, this is something I have practiced for a long time especially during the flu season).
The issue I want to write about today is how we support people who might already have issues with anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness or concern. I am fortunate that my husband has compassion, empathy, and my fears are something he always responds to out of kindness, not shame, humor, or frustration. My husband doesn’t say, “Oh, don’t worry about that,” or “You are overreacting,” or “Don’t be ridiculous.” He never mentions any of those things. When I wanted to get a few extra things at the grocery store, he grabbed the keys and took me shopping. When I wanted to refill my prescription (just in case), he told me I was smart. There is no poo-pooing of my fears in my house, and I know that I am so lucky and fortunate to have that support.
The other side of getting support happened during a phone call with a family member today. There is a belief I am holding onto that is keeping me from being too frightened about the novel coronavirus, and that belief is something someone in my family tried to undermine today. I hope no one takes what makes you feel the most secure and tries to convince you that you are wrong somehow. It is a cruel way to deal with anyone, and it is an especially cruel way to treat someone with an anxiety disorder or brain illness.
My family member told me the belief I am holding is “unlikely,” and went on to tell me how unlikely or wrong my holding on to this belief is. The belief I am holding is neither irrational or delusional. I find it to be quite possible. I believe it is about ninety percent probable. It is also something I need to continue to believe so I can go on with my daily life without being overcome by anxiety, worries, fears, and concerns.
These two examples of responses (my husband’s and a family member’s) are ways in which you can either help or hurt someone who may be more prone to anxiety or fear than you are. If I can recommend something to you, please, for the sake of kindness, compassion, and love, be like my husband and help address fears and not try to undermine a safety net of beliefs that might be the only thing holding someone together.
Wishing you a healthy and peaceful body and mind.