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Coronavirus is making me ill - and I haven't even got it

I don’t feel well, not well at all. I am experiencing cold sweats and painful symptoms, which are the side effects of the presence of coronavirus that nobody is talking about. I don’t have a cough, or a high temperature and I have no desire to phone for medical advice, but I do have all these symptoms:


Clenched jaw

Interrupted sleep

Fear of touching things

Fear of breathing

The need to wash my hands even more often


Stress and overwhelm


And a disturbing need to continually clean my house.

What I have, is not Coronavirus; what I have is severe anxiety – and I suspect that I am not alone. I think that there will be many people reading this right now who are also experiencing some of these side effects.

People never believe me when I tell them that I suffer with anxiety, and I mean full on, panic attack, I can’t drive the car or go out anxiety – apparently I don’t seem the type, but bloody hell, I am.

If there is something to worry about, I will worry and if there’s nothing to worry about, I will find something to worry about and I will worry.

I have had hours and hours of therapy, I know breathing techniques and CBT tricks and I am even trained in solution focussed therapy and more, but I am still struggling. What I really need is someone to tell me that it will all be alright. Lie to me if you must, but take the stress off, just for a minute and leave me in total peace.

I try this on myself. I practice evidence based, sensible phrases, like “it’s all just a media storm,” and “if we all wash our hands and sing happy birthday, we won’t catch it,” cheers Boris!

I know that the odds are, everything will be ok, and yet the anxious part of my brain, which overrides all logic, is screaming out, “BUT WHAT IF IT’S NOT OK?” That inner voice is constant and sometimes it likes to play out apocalyptic scenes accompanied by a sinister whisper.

And here’s the thing –  it is fuelled by headlines like “Coronavirus: People should have taken Contagion ‘much more seriously’, says film’s scientific advisor”. (Ellie Harrisson: Independent Online.)

Or maybe you prefer “Coronavirus will brutally expose the effect of a decade of public service cuts.” Thanks Polly Toynbee ( for telling an already anxious country that “If there’s an epidemic on the scale Public Health England warns of, the government may not be able to keep its citizens safe…” I feel better.

I really feel that the writers of these headlines should be accountable for the distress that they cause. Perhaps I should offer to become their anxiety for the day, pointing out the hidden dangers of their hot cup of coffee and just how many viruses and other nasties are lurking on their keyboard as they type… It’s just a suggestion.

So, what to do about my coronavirus side effects? How am I going to survive the coming weeks and months with the ever present threat of societal melt down? To be honest, I don’t know – but here are some things I will try, and you can too.

I will stop the constant influx of news. If I must listen to it, once a day will be sufficient and NOT before bedtime.

I will focus on Spring and spending time outdoors in my garden.

Meditation and Yoga – I have always wanted to explore these and now seems a good time to get started.

I will eat well, not only to boost my immune system, but also as an act of self care.

I will make time to be creative. – to write and draw and daydream.

I will go to bed early and sleep more.

I will stop reading horrific articles about how we’re all going to die.

I can’t control everyone else, and I certainly can’t control Coronavirus, but I can control how I respond to it all. If you are anxious too, please feel free to join me and if you feel you need more help, do consult a professional.

This blog was first published on on 14th March 2019 right before lockdown.


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