On the early morning of February 23, 2020, an email notification popped up on my phone screen that had me jump out of bed. For two months, my eighteen-year-old daughter was enjoying working as an au pair with a lovely family in Rovererto, Italy. The email notification was from the au pair family’s father, Ivan. The subject line read “coronavirus…a world problem!”. His Google translated content told me that due to the sudden spread of the coronavirus, all major political, health and types of authorities had quarantined parts of Italy. My heart sank. My daughter had just returned to their home in Rovererto yesterday from a solo trip to Naples, in the south of Italy. He said, he had planned to take her to Venice to see the sights but now, it was forbidden to travel to that region due to the virus. Hours later, after a heated Facetime discussion with my daughter, she begrudgingly agreed to return to Canada. With Ivan’s help, she would drive with him for seven hours to the Frankfurt airport (to avoid the Italian towns on lockdown) and fly back to Canada in two days.
While she was in transit, I was doing my part to prepare for her arrival home. I gathered all the necessary food, medical and safety supplies in case we needed to quarantine her at home and have her tested. As I have a weak immune system, being diagnosed with Lupus, my son picked her up from the airport (wearing a mask) and dropped her at her father’s home to self-isolate. Thankfully, after the few days she spent in self-isolation, her coronavirus test came back negative, but the effects of the potential virus scare were just beginning for me.
The Need for Self-Preservation
Shortly after my daughter was cleared of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization declared COVID19 a global pandemic. Suddenly, my emotional need for self-preservation became my top priority. In fact, nothing else really feels important. Sending a follow-up email for anything besides COVID seems trite, almost insensitive.
With the COVID 24/7 news coverage, my ever-increasing daily, sometimes an hourly need for safety and survival is taking over. With each article I scan and as I watch the numbers of infected people grow, I feel like I am under pressure to act to help avoid and mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.
I find myself waking up in the early mornings wondering how the COVID virus is affecting the rest of the world that is awake while I sleep. I anxiously check the news sites for updates on how the virus has spread closer to my city and my neighborhood (North and West Vancouver cases). I check in with my children frequently and connect daily with my siblings living in Ontario and Atlanta. I guess you could say, I am in full self-preservation mode.
Self-preservation is essentially a human basic “survival instinct”. Self-preservation is defined as a behavior or set of behaviors that ensure the survival of an organism. Fear is an integral part of this mechanism. Fear causes us to seek safety and may cause a release of adrenaline. People are stockpiling non-perishable items and toilet paper in their homes because their emotional need for safety is the basis of their rational thought and behavior. Modern Western psychology generally holds that the sense of security is an essential ingredient of a happy life.
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1970), the need for security is one of the most important human needs. Individuals who do not satisfy the need for security, according to Maslow, can experience high levels of stress and become less interested in pursuing higher levels of human needs, such as the need for social recognition and intimacy with others.
So, to minimize my stress and fear of contracting the virus, my family and I are doing all that we can to follow the health officials’ recommendations.
Coronavirus (COVID19) Resources
For those of you who are like me and need to be updated frequently, here’s a reliable set of resources for up to date facts on the COVID19 virus and its impact at a community, regional, federal and international level:
Thankfully, my career as a marketing consultant and communications coach enables me to work from my home office. So as a person with a compromised immune system, I am currently opting to self-isolate. With the potential virus scare I experienced with my own daughter, I have tremendous compassion for the people who are suffering from this virus and their families. I am also very grateful for the heroic healthcare workers and researchers trying to stop its deadly transmission. Thank you.
Stay safe everyone. xo