One of the worst games an anxious person can play is “What If.” One of my patients was playing that game today. My patient’s elderly parent lives in the south. My patient is worried that she will never see her parent again.
My patient and his spouse are in the risk of death category. If they get Covid-19, it’s going to be bad. My patient and his spouse have sheltered in place for 6 weeks and intend on continuing to avoid outside contact until the virus abates or a vaccine is available.
As I’ve previously stated, social isolation is one of the worse effects of Covid. Not being able to see his 96-year-old parent is unthinkable. I review all of his options and suggested that they drive to Florida to celebrate his parents 97th birthday and that’s when the “Ifs” showed up.
What if my car breaks down on the road? What if we have to stay in a hotel? What if restaurants and rest stops are closed? The “what ifs” spewed out one after another.
“What if” is a game you can’t win. What if lightning strikes right now? What if your loved one dies while you sit immobilized by the “what if” game? “What If,” by its very nature, provokes anxiety and anxiety immobilizes you. The effects of anxiety can be worse than the Covid virus. A significant number of patients recover from Covid. I believe fewer patients recover from the “what if” game.
The best way to deal with the “what if” game is to refuse to play! What if the car breaks down? I’ll deal with it. I’ll call AAA or a tow truck. I have a cell phone. What if we have to stay in a hotel? We’ll stop at a higher end hotel. We’ll carry sanitary wipes and clean the room ourselves. We’ll stay on the first floor so we don’t have to take an elevator. What if restaurants are closed? We’ll take our own food in a cooler.
When the “what ifs” pop up whack them with positive thoughts. It’s like playing Whack-a-mole. Keeping a positive outlook is critical. If you are religious, place yourself in God’s hands. If not, develop an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful you have living parent sand plan to see them again.
For sure, let those who love you know how you feel. Trust them to come up with helpful advice. My advice to my patients today was to follow their hearts and if their hearts are in the south, by all means, go.
Renee and I will be driving south I 3-4 weeks. That’s where our hearts are and that’s where you will find us in June.