Fear Of The Unknown
There is a reason monsters in literature often lurk in a cave. It is in the dark places, the hidden spots, where the demons, the archenemies so often arise. It works similarly within our psyche.
Carl Jung speaks about the archetype of a shadow or repressed part of our personality not fully integrated into our persona, that can hold us down, or keep us, in various ways, from actualizing ourselves. In a similar fashion, most of us have a tremendous fear of another kind of darkness, an existential cave if you will...I am speaking, of course, of the fear of the unknown.
Fears surrounding the coronavirus
What we cannot see terrifies us. What lurks beneath, what waits for us, is more frightening than what we feel we can control. This is perhaps part of what makes the current moment so frightening. There are quite a number of unknowns.
No one can tell, for example, how long this pandemic will last. Any time you are in public, pumping gas, or going to a drive-through, there is a chance you can be infected and will get very sick.
These fears of the coronavirus are further compounded when you have an auto-immune condition like Crohn’s disease, which makes you susceptible to severe illness. Many of us have had a history of hospitalization and have spent years in and out of doctors' offices and are not exactly seeking out another reason to end up in an E.R.
Questions about how the coronavirus impacts someone with Crohn's
Then, too, so many questions remain unanswered. How will getting coronavirus impact our Crohn’s disease? Will our immuno-suppressant drugs make getting COVID-19 more likely? If there are food shortages, will we still be able to get the critical nutrients we require? What extra precautions do we need to take to be safe?
So many questions can flit through our minds, generating anxiety. At certain points, we may even become a nervous wreck (okay, maybe that’s just me!). Why? What bothers us so much? Perhaps most of all it is a fear of the unknown.
What is helping me to cope with the fears and questions of COVID-19
I found what helps me cope best is making peace with the fact that I do not have control. This is tough. I want to be safe. We all want to be safe. It's important to take the necessary precautions. Still, a certain degree of acceptance, of inner peace, can be invaluable.
This is why I’ve started meditating. I’ve also tried healing visualizations as described by Gerald Epstein. Another element that can help is taking a walk. Thoreau was a step ahead of the curve. Had some interesting insights into walking.
As he suggests, it can be a spiritual activity that clears your head and connects you to the elements. The point is anything, really, should be tried, just so long as it helps keep you sane.
Replacing the news with other activities
Another key element that I find helps is turning off the news. Most of us enjoy watching the news or at least find it important to keep updated. Still, because the news trades in panic, in fear-mongering, sometimes it is best to go on a media-diet.
Replace it with more soothing activities such as painting or reading a book. These types of behaviors, at least, are active...and, as a result, can make you feel less helpless before the madness enveloping us all.
Not that I’m judging those who become overwhelmed. Believe me. I’ve been there. I can get quite neurotic, actually. Sometimes, I check coronavirus statistics from the World Health Organization eight times per day.
Other times I sit on the couch glued to CNN. I get it. At the same time, whenever I step away and engage in acts to limit the fear of the unknown, I find, in almost every case, I end up feeling much better about myself.
Keep focusing on better times to come
We’re in a war here. But that war is not just with illness. It’s also with a part of ourselves that wants to wallow in fear. Keep moving forward.
Keep focusing on the better times hopefully just ahead. And keep finding ways to engage with the world in an active way that counteracts a sense of powerlessness. These techniques, at least, are what have worked for me. Thanks for reading and stay safe!
Do you have a diagnosis story to share?