IBD Awareness

Coping with a Pandemic

Now that I’ve had time to sit at home and ponder what the future holds, I have been able to witness a few different types of coping strategies from my family members, friends and even myself. In the beginning, I thought staying home wouldn’t be too bad since I am an introvert, but it has proved to be challenging. While I do have good days, I also have bad days as I’m sure most of you have as well! Today, I am going to talk about what I have personally found the most surprising about quarantine and how it has helped me cope.

My amazing friend, Claire, sent me a YouTube video about a month ago titled “The Sudden Obliteration of Expectation” by Hank Green (the brother of the famous author, John Green, who wrote The Fault in our Stars). Hank compares being diagnosed with a chronic illness to the stages of grief most people are feeling towards this pandemic. Hank also has ulcerative colitis which is why I connect so well to his videos, but he also has this special talent of putting into words exactly how I am feeling.

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness brings about the initial feelings of shock which is exactly how we all felt when realizing the coronavirus is actually very serious. What comes next is a feeling that even Hank doesn’t have a word to describe. He settled on the word wuthering: a sudden loss of future expectations you had set for yourself. Realizing that you have an illness that will last forever suddenly changes everything you had planned for your life. The future is uncertain and plans just disappear. Likewise, during this pandemic we are stuck in the uncertainty that life may never return to how it was before. The future you had created in your mind may not actually come to fruition, but new expectations replace it and create a new path for your life you never thought would exist. The closer you can get to accepting the new reality, the easier it will be for you to cope. With that being said, acceptance is not an easy task and will take time. Trust me, I can attest to this!

Coping with this large-scale pandemic brings about emotions of anger, frustration and overwhelming fear, but sometimes we need those emotions to find a happy medium. I know I relate to this IMMENSELY. I find myself feeling these emotions on a daily basis, even when I am feeling 100% healthy. When that happens, I make a conscious decision to change one thing in my daily routine to allow for something new and exciting. This week it was waking up an hour earlier to have some quiet time and do morning yoga to clear my head of all negative thoughts. No matter what, I always find ways to lift my spirits and come out on top which I think we all can and will do once this pandemic is over.

If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts during this quarantine period, know that you are not alone. Most people find it hard to be optimistic when the future is so unknown. I recommend adding something to your daily routine that you normally wouldn’t do so that you have something to look forward to. Getting fresh air is always good for your mental health and doing some type of exercise will clear your mind. Reading a good book can also help pass the time.

I encourage you all to watch Hanks’s video here!! It is probably my favorite video ever and I can talk about it for days. I hope this helps you gain a new positive perspective on the pandemic, but also gives you a glimpse into what my life has been like over the past year or so. Life will return eventually, but just know that it may lead you in a new direction you didn’t know you were headed. Don’t be afraid of the change, but rather embrace it!

I would love to hear how all of you are coping with quarantine and the new routines you have created for yourselves, so please leave a comment below! Who knows, maybe I’ll get some new ideas for my daily routine…

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