A warning for my fellow worry warts
As someone with anxiety, I’m aware that this may be an unsettling post. If you’re on edge about the COVID-19 pandemic, please do not read this post!
This is a stressful time for everyone. Be kind to yourself and get the support you need.
Trying to stay positive
It’s been a time of upheaval in the world. In the blink of an eye, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned all our lives upside down. But, being the optimist that I am, I’ve tried to maintain my positivity.
I seize on good news stories and spread them to family and friends. I hope beyond hope for health, safety, and best-case scenarios for everyone. I’ve tried so hard to maintain that optimism, but…
Actually, I’m not okay
To be honest, I’ve had some hard moments, filled with overwhelming sadness and horror. My family is fine, but I find it hard to turn away from the suffering of others.
This has been the biggest toll of the pandemic on me—I worry so much for the well-being of those who’ve been severely impacted by this awful virus.
We’re fine, but so many aren’t
While my immediate and extended family are healthy and safe, I’m well aware that many others are not doing well. In fact, many are beyond stressed.
Some are wondering how they’ll pay their staff or get food on the table. Others are working around the clock to keep the rest of us healthy, safe, fed, and functional—all the while worrying about their own health and safety.
Still others are grieving for sick, dying, or departed loved ones—whom they likely were not able to be with in their last moments. These poor families can’t even mourn or say goodbye with funerals and memorials. It breaks my heart.
Then there are those who are doing the right thing by physical distancing but are achingly lonely and isolated: single people who are cut off from friends and family; elderly in care homes who were already lacking human interaction.
Finally, I have looming worries about poorer nations who’ve yet to face the full brunt of COVID-19. These countries are next-to-defenseless against this fast-moving virus. If we in developed countries can barely cope, how will they?
There’s so much sadness, so much suffering—and very little I can do to make an impactful difference.
So many everyday losses
As we do our part to flatten the curve, we’ve had to let go of so many everyday things:
- Family gatherings.
- Time with friends.
- Fully-stocked store shelves.
- Meals out.
- Workouts at the gym.
- Non-emergency (but still-needed) medical and dental procedures.
- Dog parks.
- Birthday parties.
- Graduation ceremonies.
- Hand shakes.
Whether big or small, these changes represent a tremendous loss of normalcy—with no clear end in sight. We’re all doing our best to manage the disruptions, but it takes a toll, both emotionally and economically.
What is this thing we’re battling?
Next, there’s the disconcerting strangeness of this whole COVID situation. It’s like we’re at war… but not really.
Unlike an actual war, we’re generally safe from harm and still have a lot of individual freedom. Even in places that are locked down, most of us can safely leave our homes to pick up essentials or get some exercise.
But in some ways, this does feel like a war: we can’t gather with friends and family; we’re constantly fearful; all anyone can talk about is this battle we’re facing.
Manufacturers have switched over to make supplies for the frontlines. World economies and millions of lives have been put on hold. And many, many people are unwell or dying.
The scale of what’s happening is so massive and unprecedented—it’s hard to make sense of it all.
How bad will the financial impact be?
As financially savvy as FI-seekers are, it’s difficult to plan for black swan events like this. How many of us imagined a scenario this wide-ranging and prolonged? I have to wonder:
- Will our investments come roaring back as we hope they will?
- Will this instead be a repeat of the Great Depression—with ten years of recovery ahead?
- How many of us will eventually lose our jobs?
- Will small businesses be able to recover?
- How will industries decimated by the lockdowns survive?
Rationally, I know humans are resilient, and we’ll survive this. Bad things have always happened, and we’ve always bounced back.
My rational brain believes this, but things are too messy and crazy right now. My emotional brain doesn’t want to listen, and keeps me going back to the worries.
How the $*&! are we going to pay for all this?
I’m more than happy to see our tax dollars going to the frontlines and those in need. We’re in this together, and I’m thankful to live in a country that has the resources to help.
However, as a FI-minded person, I can’t help but think: where’s all this money coming from? Most of us are hardly spending, and many of us aren’t working or paying income taxes.
How can our governments continue to dole out massive amounts of funding when the revenues have all but dried up? It’s not hard to see that the math doesn’t add up. Once this is all over, what will the ultimate cost be, and will we be able to afford it?
How will disadvantaged students cope?
Many of us are fortunate to have wifi, devices, and someone at home to ‘crisis school’ our kids. However, a large segment of the population is lacking one, two, or all three of these homeschooling prerequisites.
Additionally, children who are already struggling will likely struggle even more at home. Parents, though well-meaning, are typically not trained or experienced enough to take on the role of teaching.
On top of all this, these same children are also missing out on the non-educational supports that schools provide: meals, a safe environment, emotional support, social interaction, and more.
As much as I support physical distancing measures, I worry so much for these children. Aside from donating to causes like Kids Help Phone (which I did using some of my Air Miles) I’m not sure how someone like me can help.
What other supply chain issues will we face?
This pandemic has already created so many unforeseen issues:
- Cleaning supply shortages.
- Prescription drug shortages.
- Protective equipment shortages.
- Toilet paper shortages (for consumers).
- Toilet paper overages (for institutions).
- Produce and dairy shortages (in stores).
- Produce and dairy overages (on farms).
- Gasoline overages.
- Negative oil prices.
- Meat processing plant closures (which may lead to meat shortages).
Many of these problems were unimaginable in February, but just a couple of months later, they’re the new normal. What other crazy, unpredictable issues could be coming our way?
When and how will this end?
It’s depressing to look at the facts and face the reality of what’s ahead. The hard truth is, we won’t see a full return to normal until a safe, effective vaccine can be widely administered.
As we all know, that’s 12 to 18 months away. (Even then, that’s a very optimistic timeline.) Until then, we may be able to take baby steps to normalcy—but that can only happen if many other things are in place:
- Widespread, readily-available testing.
- Serological testing (and possibly immunity certificates to go with it).
- Thorough contact tracing.
- Continued physical distancing.
It’s hard to fathom living this way for another year or more. Will we and our economies, governments, and countries survive this?
So, all of this sounds horrible. It’s a lot of doom and gloom, with nothing really hopeful to share. It’s true—this is darker and angstier than I normally get. But I’ve learned that the only way past our challenges is through them.
Until we allow our difficult feelings to surface, we’ll remain stuck with them. We need to experience them and talk about them in order to begin the process of moving on. That’s when we’ll start finding our own ways through—to eventually grow and triumph.
I’m slowly getting there. And I look forward to the day when we can look back on this horrible time and realize how much we learned and changed for the better.
How are you doing?
How have you been holding up? Are you also worried about the same things, or are there other issues that concern you? Share your thoughts in the comments below, so we can learn from and support each other.
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