One Year Later: I began my COVID journal on March 24th. The intent was to write down things that were catching my attention due to the pandemic. For my entries prior to March 24th, I wrote about what I recalled.
“The first death in the United States attributed to coronavirus was in Kirkland, Washington on February 29, 2020.”
“By March 1, I was getting sick of all the experts being interviewed and their first advice was not to panic. Oh really? That was going to be my first approach. Dang, now what do I do, now that I can’t panic? I guess I’ll just have to approach it calmly. The next day I heard the death total in Washington was up to 6.”
At the time, my friends Bryan and Penny were living in Kirkland. Bryan is a writer and a member of the clergy, and his articles during this time were deeply introspective and moving. The pandemic hit them before anyone else, and his perspective was a window into what the rest of us would soon see.
Also, am I the only one who thinks advice to “Don’t Panic” (in large, friendly letters) is the dumbest waste of words and breath ever? If someone is on the brink of terror, do they stop and say to themselves, “Oh, I remember some epidemiologist on TV yesterday told me not to panic, so I will not?” Also, what is panicking? I am pretty sure I couldn’t define it in useful terms. I could say in general, it’s when you allow your fears to take over your rational thinking. But what does it look like in practice? How would someone in the first stage of panic recognize what they are doing? Is panic screaming? Hyperventilating? Vision going fuzzy? Yelling at the kids? What exactly are the signs of impending panic?
Basically, my point is, it’s totally worthless, ridiculous advice. “Don’t panic” probably also means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. Not to mention, someone panicking is the last person who has the presence of mind to consider the pros and cons of their behavioral choices.
These people are doctors for chrissakes, haven’t they ever dealt with people before? Say something useful, like “When you feel your heart rate increasing, it will be a thumping in your chest, or a tightness. Your breathing may quicken. This means you are feeling anxious. Anxiety is a normal reaction to the news you are hearing and there is nothing wrong with you if it happens. However, anxiety reduces your ability to make the best decisions. So here is my advice, when you feel your heart rate increase, you need to take a few long, slow breaths and try to slow your heart down. If someone is nearby, tell them you are feeling anxiety.” Etcetera etcetera. Now, wouldn’t that advice be MUCH more helpful than some doofus saying not to panic?