Using your Amputee Skills to Cope with the Pandemic
These days, we all have to accept the anxiety inherent in living with the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19. If there were a way to dispel all anxious feelings, I'd tell you, but there isn't. The one exception might be someone who could summon such a degree of denial that they carry on as if everything was normal. And that, as I'm sure you can see, would prove to be very, very unwise.
Anxiety helps us prepare to respond in a more adaptive and healthy way. Some people find it possible to tolerate some degree of discomfort and can manage their anxiety in a healthy manner. Often that's because some people have done well under this kind of challenge already, albeit in very different contexts. Life has a way of requiring this. Yet other people — particularly people who have anxiety disorders — may understandably be having a great deal of trouble coping.
How can I cope with the coronavirus outbreak if I have a pre-existing anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders take many forms and affect many people. So, what happens now if you're someone who has suffered way too much already with a pre-existing anxiety disorder? You are already scared of even little things. Or you may have a panic disorder sending you to the ER with fears of a heart attack. Nightmares and flashbacks of traumas you have not gotten over would get horribly worse in these stressful times. The least of your worries may be the little rituals that you know you do that distract you, but in these times, you feel overwhelmed and forced to do over and over Obsessive-compulsive disorders can contain your fears but struggle to reduce them. Amputees face all these problems because they have a keen sense of their vonerability. It's hard to take a fight or flight stance with just one leg. Hopefully, you may find that the tips below will help you cope more successfully with what we are all facing together in these unprecedented times.
Seek support from a mental health professional
Talking to a mental health professional who has gone through an amputation can bolster your ability to address present concerns, and help you clarify where your feelings are coming from. When you're feeling extra worried or overwhelmed, it could be that some of your feelings are from the present challenge, and some are from challenges you had faced in the past when you had to get back on your feet after your amputation.
At Amputee Life Coach.com I provide a comprehensive treatment plan. I have had an amputation and know what you are going through. I have had panic attacks and know what you are feeling. I have had many years of helping people gain control of their lives when they feel they have been shattered by anxiety. I work over the phone and through the internet to be there when you face a crisis.
Work toward separating out where your feelings are coming from
Doing this work can allow you to take a breath and divvy up the different emotional contributions that feed how you're feeling.
- Try saying this, for example: "Of course, I'm more concerned than (my roommate/my friend/my family) because I'm practiced at feeling anxious or helpless."
- The next step is to recognize that the percentage of feelings that stem from the past do not have to govern how you necessarily feel in the present. Try saying this out loud: "Well that was then; this is now." A simple statement like this can actually open the door to some significant relief.
- Gently remind yourself of this crucial separation, cleaving the past from the present. And kindly and reassuringly remind yourself that you have the resources — both internal and external — to manage your feelings and reactions in the now. This is crucially important.
Keep providing yourself with guidance
As often as you need to hear it, tell yourself the following: "I can manage. I can practice what I know to be helpful, and I know that in managing my feelings and reactions I can seek support from a few close friends. Further, I can seek the support of a mental health professional when needed. By combining these strategies, I will be able to settle my nerves in order to be able to make healthy choices."
This kind of mantra bears repeating over and over. It is not "fake it till you make it." This is believing in yourself and believing in a course of action that you can set in motion. Try to believe that, together with supportive others, this self-guidance and this plan will work for you. Know that in many instances, people who have known tremendous adversity and even trauma are able to demonstrate a strength forged from those circumstances. This is entirely consistent with human abilities.
Drawing on what you've learned can help you cope
We are wired for fight or flight. The present situation does not require either of these. Having gotten over an amputation, you are a human who's been challenged by anxiety in the past, Encourage yourself to draw upon what you've learned. Since you have gotten back on your feet you know you can manage successfully.
Separating feelings from the past. Remind yourself that you have the strength and ability to prevail in the present to prevail. You can see a path forward for yourself, just like you took control of your amputation. If you should stumble and fall in this new challenge, picture yourself as able to pick yourself back up and carry on as you did before. Remember, there is help out there. That is why I specialize as an amputee life coach. You can chat with me anytime for free. Reassure yourself that the basic provisions for your safety and well-being are within your power to meet.