What is Covid 19 Activating Within You?

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Post 1 Navigating Safely Through Covid 19

I have started posting on psychological impact of covid 19 - I know this first post is long..

My question has been "what is Covid 19 activating within you?"
For most of us our response is a level of fear.
We all have different ways of coping with this difficult feeling, we can be overwhelmed, stop thinking, and go into denial;

  • we can be flooded with anxieties and unable to think.
  • we can convince ourselves that nothing is happening.
  • we can forget that we have good and solid psychological resources to cope.
  • we can feel completely alone and forget that others can help us think and process.

For me one of the many difficult aspects is that we have no frame of reference for what is happening.
When this happens it becomes really hard to trust what feelings should be acted upon and what information should be trusted.
We can believe it is safer if everyone has the same approach and takes the same measures. We can see that this is not happening, from the school closures to the packed pubs.
This evokes in us all a range of responses that can be painful and distressing. People who are at risk can feel cast aside and their fears ignored.
We are having to consider vulnerability in a way we have not had to before. This process asks of us to then consider our own vulnerability, again a difficult thing to do.

I will finish this post with the example of psychological containment a wise professor used when in college back in the 80's.

Little Mary, who is 5, falls and cuts her knee. Her knee is bleeding and she doesn't know if she will be ok. Mary runs in to her parent crying and afraid. Her parent can do one of 3 things:

  1. Parent can become cross and tell Mary to not bother them, nothing is wrong and a cut knee is nothing, go back out and play.
  2. Parent can become overwhelmed with anxiety about Mary's knee; will it get infected ? what if something really bad happens? Parent can stop Mary from playing and seek medical help.
  3. Parent can be open to Mary's distress, be aware through their own feelings that Mary doesn't know if she will be ok.

Parent manages their own anxieties and can internally reassure themselves that with cleaning and a plaster Mary's knee will be ok. It is through the parent connecting with Mary's feelings that psychological containment happens.
In option 1, Mary learns to ignore feelings and bodily needs. In option 2, Mary learns to fear feelings and bodily needs and can switch off from them.
In option 3 Mary takes in that she is not alone, she can take in the parents response and make it her own, so she learns what to do when she is frightened and hurt.
I hope this post can help in some way. I will continue to post over the next while.

Take good care,

Fiona Masterson.