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Tolerating the Uncertainty of The Crisis.

COVID-19 has changed lives. We are all living in an unpreceded time of disruption, change, and fear. And it is entirely normal for you to feel scared, anxious, and overwhelmed. This is serious. Uncertainty is everywhere and it’s making us all feel like we are carrying a 20lb weight on our shoulders.

We are all worried about the physical, financial, and mental well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. A casual glance at the news reveals that even experts are unsure of the severity of the situation or how long it will last. No reliable medical treatment exists for COVID 19 yet, questions remain regarding how easily COVID 19 spreads, and how to predict who will have more severe illness. Essential workers are putting themselves (and immediate family members) at risk, others have lost their jobs, and the rest are living with the uncertainty of whether their job will survive the crisis. And, the majority of us are being told to stay home, all the time.

I reiterate these facts not to scare you, but to validate you. We are all feeling unsure of what the future holds. “Will I get sick?... Will there be resources to treat me? … Will my job be cut? … Will my business survive? … What will happen with the stock market?..” These are all appropriate concerns.

I feel the effect on our community. As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, I work to help my patients navigate these feelings. I’d like to share some of what I think about our situation. I hope it will help all of us get through this together.

We don’t like uncertainty. In fact, our minds are designed to fear anything we can’t predict, plan or control. This keeps us safe from danger, but it also adversely affects our mood, sleep, and behavior. Further, concentrating on the uncertainty of this situation breeds deeper and deeper worry and anxiety. How do we combat this? With all these unknowns, we must concentrate on what we do know.

We know that the path of restrictions that scientists and doctors have laid out for us is working. It is saving lives. Is this path hard on everyone? Yes. But it is working. We know that our town is working tirelessly to continue to keep everyone safe. We know that every one of us has faced challenges in our lives before, and we have gotten through them.

When I concentrate on what we know, I become certain that this will end. I become certain that we as a human race are strong. I become certain that we are resilient. Finally, I become certain that if we follow the path, we will emerge from this crisis together.

If you are feeling uncontrollable worry and anxiety, speak to someone. A psychiatrist can help you adjust and give you tools to get through any struggles or challenges you are facing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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