Novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has the world in its clutches.
Since I wrote the first part of the “What to do if you panic about coronavirus” series a couple of weeks ago, the number of infected people has risen to more than 1.4 million worldwide and over 80,000 more have died with COVID-19.
The number of new cases surges at a terrifying pace. With the global panic pandemic spreading faster still.
And all we can do is delay the inevitable. Wait out the storm. Hoping for the best while fearing the worst.
Because we have no treatment for the new virus strain.
And we feel out of control. Powerless. At the mercy of a ruthless enemy, with no pharmacological weapon to slay it.
We are defenceless.
Or are we?Read more
Tell me. Do you love yourself?
If your response to this question is “No” or “Uhmmm…” or a doubtful “Sometimes?” (usually accompanied by a knotting of the brows), answer me this.
Why not? Why can you not love yourself?
And that’s when your mind kicks in…
• Because I am not perfect, not good enough, not attractive, fit, wealthy enough.
• Because I am too old, too fat, too short, too lazy, stupid or selfish.
• Because my parents neglected me, my friends rejected me, my partner left me.
• Because I made too many mistakes, failed too many times, hurt too many people.
• Because I feel guilty for letting others down, am ashamed and disappointed with myself.
• Because I am single, lonely, behind in my career.
• Because I suffer from anxiety, depression or health issues.
• Because I am worthless and don’t deserve to be loved.
So many reasons to hate yourself.
But are your past mistakes really reason enough to abstain from self-love? After all, you are a different person now. You grew, evolved, make better choices.
And wouldn’t you look past other people’s flaws and shortcomings and still love them regardless? So why can’t you extend the same courtesy to yourself?
Even if nobody in this world loved you or cared for you (which is highly unlikely, by the way, no matter what your mind may tell you), wouldn’t this just be more reason to love yourself? Everybody needs love, right?
So, what’s the real reason why self-love is such a struggle for you?Read more
Have you ever asked yourself why you get so irritable?
When, all of a sudden, you feel so annoyed, or angry, or maybe upset that you could scream, cry. Tell everybody around you to just Fuck off.
It comes out of nowhere.
Ambushing you without warning.
One moment you think you are fine. The next you could strangle every person who wants something or dares to even talk to you.
The pressure in your chest chokes your breath and your brain screams: “Everybody just shut up!”
And it’s not like you at all.
You don’t usually snap at people. Or hurt them. You aren’t always so over-emotional or hyper-sensitive.
And you sure as hell don’t normally swear.
But, in this very moment, you can’t help it. It feels like you are possessed. It’s surreal.
And afterwards, when the short-tempered storm has passed, you feel so embarrassed. So guilty for being awful to the people in your life. For fighting with your partner, making the kids cry or causing your co-workers to retreat with this look of judgement in their disbelieving eyes.
You lost it.
Now you have to deal with the damage. And the shame.
You feel like you can’t live with yourself. You beat yourself up for being a terrible, emotionally unstable person. Lay awake at night seeking an explanation for your mood swings. Wrecking your brain.
Why do you become so irritable, out of the blue, without reason? What is wrong with you?
When the answer is: Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you.
You are just neglecting something essential.
For me, as a highly sensitive, introvert empath, High School was hell. I enjoyed reading books more than trips to the shopping mall. Preferred gardening to “meeting up with the boys”, actually loved learning and detested the obligatory Saturday night partying.
I was a geek, a teacher’s pet with uncool hobbies, unexciting interests and oddball opinions. But still, I wanted to be accepted. Be part of the popular crowd.
So, throughout my school years, it seemed like I only had two options:
Be true to my authentic Self and face rejection, bullying and loneliness. Or deny my true nature, renounce my interests and adapt my personality to fit in and avoid social isolation.
And both of these options meant suffering. But there was a third option. It was right in front of me all the time. I just never allowed myself to see it.Read more
Last week I was making my herbal tea to drink throughout the morning. As I do every day.
But as I poured the boiling water into the jug, the glass exploded and scorching liquid gushed towards me. In panic, I hurdled backwards, stumbling over one of little one’s toys.
And while I thankfully avoided a third degree burn, I tore a muscle in my thigh. Which rendered me immobile for the rest of the day.
So I sat on the sofa. Analysing some cancer outcome data for work, watching daytime TV and twiddling my thumbs.
Looking around, I could see all the chores that were waiting for me. The chaotic piles of toys, dusty floors, mountains of dirty dishes were mocking me from afar.
It upset me that I couldn’t tackle the mess or cook dinner for my family. I felt guilty because my husband had to cater to my needs and take over the child care. And I was disappointed that I would have to suspend my newly-established yoga practice.
As I brooded over all the things I should do, ought to complete or was missing out on, I started to feel angry.
“You stupid, idiot thigh,” I grumbled. “If you weren’t hurt, I wouldn’t be so restricted. I wouldn’t be such a burden to others. I wouldn’t be so useless!”
And the moment I said it, I knew how wrong it was.Read more
I passed my driving test at first attempt when I was 18 years old. And didn’t sit on a driver’s seat again for the next 10 years.
The thought of driving a car made me feel sick with worry and anxiety. I was overwhelmed by all the actions that needed to be completed simultaneously. Clutch, accelerator, indicator, look left, right and back, use the side mirrors, watch pedestrians, traffic and stick to speed limits. It was just too much!
So, I avoided it. Convinced myself that a car in the city was impractical anyway. That the 3-hour journey to see my family on the train at weekends was more comfortable anyway. And that I enjoyed taking the bus.
But I always knew. Driving was my biggest failure.
Every time I found myself behind the steering wheel, I felt physically sick and froze, mind blank and petrified. Driving was my nemesis. An unsurmountable wall of shame I could never overcome.
Until my mind set started to change…Read more
(WARNING: You will have to lose your mind!)
This morning I took little one to school. In the school yard, parents were chatting in little groups while waiting for the doors to open.
As we arrived, my mind whispered: “Nobody will want to talk to YOU. You are an outsider.”
To prove it wrong, I joined a couple of Mums. But as I tried to contribute to the conversation, they talked over me, taking no notice of what I was saying.
“See?” My mind gloated. “They don’t want to have anything to do with you. You aren’t interesting enough. People will always ignore you.”
As the children swarmed through the school doors, the two Mums wandered off, still chatting, without acknowledging my existence.
“I told you so”, my mind confirmed. “You are an impossible person to like. People just don’t click with you. You are too boring, odd. Just not good enough. You have nothing to offer. You will be alone for the rest of your life. You pathetic loser!”
A few years ago, this experience would have thrown me into a bottomless abyss of self-punishment, self-loathing and self-pity. For days I would have beaten myself up for being unlovable, unpopular, worthless.
But today I wasn’t bothered. The school yard experience didn’t affect me at all. I didn’t lose another negative thought on it. I went on with my day feeling happy.
So, why do I react so differently now? What happenend?Read more
All my life I felt torn. I hated the hustle and bustle of shopping centres, bars and pubs. I loathed the unbearable noise and suffocating crowds in discos and at concerts.
I felt grumpy and irritated all day if I had to go to a party that evening. And once there, I wished I could be home in front of the TV with my latest needlework project.
While I loved my uneventful hobbies and never was bored myself, I felt that other people judged me: Look at that superbore! Could she be any more old-fashioned, dull and uncool?
I lived in constant fear of humiliation, ridicule and rejection. It hurt when others made fun of me. At times, I felt isolated and lonely because I didn’t socialise enough to meet new people. And my aversion to everything cool, hip or “in” suggested that something was seriously wrong with me.
And, back then, I only saw one solution to the problem…Read more
Can you remember the magical feeling when you looked into your newborn’s innocent eyes for the first time? When you instantly forgot the pain and exertion of childbirth and an all-encompassing wave of motherly love flooded your heart?
When tears of joy streamed down your cheeks as you marvelled at the beautiful, perfect being in your arms. And you knew that your life was complete and you would love this tiny creature beyond your last breath?
Well, I can’t.
I remember 16 hours of labour pain, 2 hours of pushing and the feeling of desperation over yet another unsuccessful attempt to get the job done. I remember an injection needle and scissors appearing between my legs and an episiotomy that still hurt months after the birth.
And I recall my first thoughts when the midwife finally placed the blood-covered bundle on my chest: “What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing now? Can’t somebody else take it, please?”
No instant overwhelming rush of love. No motherly feelings. No happiness. Just exhaustion, anxiety and the ineffable dread of the unprecedented change my life was about to undergo.
But I am still a good Mum. And here’s why…Read more