Catastrophizing

I had my first real bout of depression after the birth of my third child. There were lots of reasons for that. First, I’d had a little postnatal depression or baby blues after each of my babies. Second, my mum was not around and my relationship had been damaged by her own breakdown a year or so before. Thirdly, I knew that I should never have got back with my husband. A pregnancy, planned or not, (it wasn’t) was never going to change that.

In a way, the cause of the depression is irrelevant for this post. It’s what it did to me that matters.

My Health Visitor called it ‘catastrophizing’. All I could think about was what would happen if I died – how would my kids cope? I worried about war and disease and obsessed about stockpiling provisions for my children. At that point, I stopped watching or reading the news and I haven’t since, six years later.

An antidepressant prescription, a decent life insurance policy and a reunion with my mum resulted in a semi-recovery.

You probably won’t believe this, but I am actually a positive person. Friends and family comment on it, pupils at school comment on it – people talk to me about their problems because of it. I try to see the good in a situation. I believe in learning from them.

I actually believe that this is the root of the problem with my mental health.

I am a positive person with insecurities. And what that means is, over certain situations, I have an internal struggle which rages in my brain and threatens to consume me. A fight between hope and doubt.

My break down/burn out three years ago – or whenever it was now – I feel was caused when somewhere in my pysche, I realised that I was in a helpless situation. My dad was dying and there was nothing I could do about it. I was in a challenging situation in work that I could do nothing about, it was just circumstances. My marriage had failed and there was nothing I could do about it.

So you can imagine, for a once catastrophizing depressive, the Coronavirus is the Freddy Kruger of nightmares.

I’ve had so many mixed feelings and thoughts about the Coronavirus situation. Due to my lack of knowledge about it – not reading /watching the news for example – it was a distant problem. And then, as it got a little more serious, I wondered how much was social media or media hype. (As it has got more serious, I of course have started reading the news). And then, I considered that for most people ‘symptoms would be mild’ so whilst needing to protect the vulnerable, I couldn’t understand the panic for everyone. In some ways, these were all signs that my depression was long gone. Hope and positivity remained. Or naivety.

The world is standing still now though.

Fear is gripping everyone, everywhere.

I don’t know what this all means. We see cases and deaths in forever upwardly spiralling numbers but no clear understanding of what this means. Were they all old and/or vulnerable? How many were due to reduced facilities – the sheer numbers putting strain on medical supplies where having the right equipment would have saved lives?

We are told that it is likely that many of us will catch this virus. We know more people will die.

Is it wrong to have hope? I think not.

I have hope that the amazing scientists and medical professionals around the world will find a way to help us. I believe that if we work together, we can support one another through this terrible time.

Whilst I do have family members with medical issues, most are in good health and I remain hopeful that we will manage with the mild symptoms. I count my blessings that my dad is not here to witness this and worry about it. He would never have survived coronavirus and the anxiety would have consumed him every minute, night and day.

I’ve not stockpiled food. I’ve tried to be considerate of others whilst having hope that the empty shelves will soon refill and the items I couldn’t buy will be available. Perhaps this is hope, perhaps this is stupidity. But that’s what I have done.

At the moment, all I want to do is bunker down at home with the people I love and wait it out. Take something positive from this – time to appreciate my family and love them and be with them.

And hopefully, when we come out of the other side of this we will all appreciate the right things a little more. Time with family. How lucky we are to have food and medicine. The people that work so hard, so thanklessly, to provide medicine and care.

And maybe we will care a little less about materialistic things. Selfish people. The non-essentials in life that mattered so much to people which actually don’t matter at all.

My only regret is that I won’t get to see Wild Card. I won’t be able to spend quality time with him. He will be a million miles away, even further away than he was before.

More on this in my next post.

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