Swimming in anxiety with COVID-19

Anxiety comes naturally to me. I know I’m blessed and unique in that way (said no one ever). Big news events like this COVID-19 stuff and the stuff with Iran back in January can really do a number in my brain. I’ve come along way with managing my daily anxiety through exercise, sleep, nutrition, meditation, artwork, and therapy. But when there are big things happening everywhere around me, my sense of empathy ignites full force and my brain begins to run every possible scenario that might impact my family, loved ones, and strangers in different walks of life. I have a high level of intellect and I love research and fact-finding, considering all possible options and not taking sides (Enneagram 5, through and through). But things like this take a lot of capacity in my brain and I have a hard time shutting it down and moving on with life. It’s paralysis by analysis and it makes me just want to crawl into my bed and sleep until it’s over. There are plenty of things I could do that would be healthy and productive, but the noise of the voices uses so much of my energy. Sometimes journaling all of it helps, allowing it to find a path out of my brain, so that is what follows. It’s a string of thoughts that looks similar to my brain the last few days, though probably a little more coherent and linear than my brain.

It’s just like a cold. I will be fine, I never go to the doctor when I’m sick anyway. Just stay on top of my vitamin C, D, fish oil and probiotics. Just like every other day. This is why I choose a healthy lifestyle so things like this won’t hurt me. People are overreacting. People are too dependent on the healthcare system. If people took care of their health they wouldn’t need to be afraid. People are too dependent on the government to take action. People don’t even know what’s really going on. The media is blowing this out of proportion. What’s really even true? People will believe anything they read and only read headlines. I wonder if this doctor working in Wuhan is real or just a made up Internet troll? If they are real, then this is interesting. But China is a dictatorship so I’m sure their healthcare system is crap. What’s happening there can’t happen here. Hmm, I wonder if this doctor in Italy is another Internet troll? Italy isn’t a communist country and seems like they’d have a decent healthcare system. Maybe this person knows what they are talking about? Maybe this isn’t really about if I can get through this just fine and I need to consider how fast it spreads and what it might do to other people. How long will it take to spread at work? Lots of people from around the city go there everyday. Is it possible this is a conspiracy like some say, that our own politicians have caused this because it’s an election year? Are people really that devious? I’ve watched plenty of fictional political dramas on TV and it’s very plausible based on those shows, but are those shows just telling an enthralling and unrealistic story or are they based on truth? Are we really just living in someone’s TV? Is this a simulation? Legit places like Johns Hopkins and other infectious disease experts are recommending we practice social distancing. This is perfectly doable for our family. But what about Ronnie’s business? What if gym members cancel out of fear and we lose that income or he can’t pay his rent? Should he even remain open and take the chance of the virus spreading among gym members? Most of them are healthy and would be fine but what about the older members? What about their families with older relatives and people already ill? Extra cleaning needs to happen there for sure and more vigilance about members coming in to workout while sick. It has to stop but then is it already too late? Meanwhile, I can work from home. It won’t be fun and it’s extra distracting when the kids are there but it’s a smart option. The entire office will probably be doing that soon so I won’t feel guilty about it. I wonder if the economy will be impacted by social distancing so much that it will hurt our sales enough to cause additional layoffs? We just lost so many employees last month. I wonder if my favorite local restaurants will survive? Should we go just to support them, or is that too risky? Should I take Layla to daycare or let her hangout with her grandmas on her usual days during social distancing? Seems like it’s only effective if we really just avoid all outside contact. But what if what Layla had in February and then Ronnie had a week later were actually COVID-19? The symptoms match perfectly and it isn’t unreasonable to think the virus arrived here back in December before we halted travel from China and Europe. If it spreads exponentially as they say then it’s already prevalent here and we are really in it. Which would be the best case as that means our healthcare system is already feeling it and doing fine. It’s not as severe or widespread as predicted. And then hopefully this social distancing won’t last long and life can get back to normal, everyone can go back to work, and the economy can recover. My parents are close to retirement so they need a healthy 401k! But if it hasn’t already spread here than there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. There are people that won’t be able to work and receive a paycheck. Several professional athletes have already agreed to support hourly employees hurt by the season game cancellations. Utility companies are being generous and are not going to shut off service for people who can’t pay their bills during this. Is it all a conspiracy? What if this kind of generous reality is really possible and our current American system is really that broken? It’s all temporary but what would that kind of society look like in the long run? Either way there are people immediately without income. How can I help? I have my painting business which will help us with a little extra income, especially if things go south for Ronnie. But they won’t go south for Ronnie. Also, what if people cancel their painting orders and the demand slows down because it’s nonessential and everyone is worried about their own financial health in all this? Or what if there are plenty of people that will be fine so I can continue to paint and then use that income to help people who need it right now? Will that make me look like an asshole? Is that virtue signaling if I promote my art and that I’m using a portion of the income for those in our community? What if that makes me look like I’m using others hardships to my advantage? Should I even hyperlink that part in this stream of consciousness? Does it even matter what people think of me? Why do I care? It seems like a win win. Will it even make a difference? What if this whole thing is just one big dumb hoax and a bunch of us who felt compassion for the broader picture end up looking like idiots? Are we being duped? Does it matter? I’d rather something like this show how compassionate our community is and can be, rather than the opposite, like the hoarding and price gouging of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. How would this be different 15 years ago before social media? Wouldn’t it even be as big? Is that the cause of this, our stupid fixation with our smartphones and Facebook and instant news? Why can’t I focus on painting right now, the thing I love that has zero impact from all this? I have portraits that have been commissioned I need to finish and start but even some abstract work could be therapeutic right now but I’ve tried and I just can’t focus!

The house is a mess and there are dishes to do, laundry, paintings to complete, but all I want to do is nap. And I tried napping but just couldn’t sleep…

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