Fear and Panic in Florida

 

My husband and I must be the only two seniors who embrace sanity over panic. We live in a 55+ community, where many people have pre-existing conditions or simply don’t take care of themselves. To deal with their anxiety regarding the COVID-19, they feel they have to do something. They’ve decided to shop. When we went to do our weekly shopping, you would have thought that a five-force hurricane was offshore bearing down on us. Shelves were cleared of bottled water, milk, and toilet paper. I’m not sure why they’ve gotten toilet paper, but I guess for those of us who are spoiled Westerners, toilet paper is a necessity.

We walked through the store, shaking our heads. I hope those people are feeling more at ease. I doubt it.

The fact is, the mystery and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus are terrifying to people. They go to their worst-case scenario: we’re all going to die. Dead people will be lying in the streets, and those of us remaining will trip over their corpses. Those frightened people won’t tell you how they feel, but at a subconscious level I’m pretty sure that the fear and panic reaches those extreme levels.

So how are my husband and I experiencing the threat? Well, my husband was diagnosed with a bronchial-lung condition, bronchiectasis, 25 years ago. That means the cilia in his bronchial tubes, those little hairs that keep junk out of his lungs, have disappeared over time. His lungs are damaged and continue to get worse, as he coughs on a regular basis. Yes, he’s one of those seniors with an underlying medical condition. He’s been told that there’s no treatment, no cure, but he won’t die from it. He’ll die from something else. Right.

But we figure we’re homebodies and don’t go out much. Except we do go out to eat occasionally. We were going to a diner that we go to infrequently, then realized people might be worried by his coughing. So, okay, we went to the restaurant in our housing development, where many people will recognize him and know his condition. And then, too, nursing homes are becoming more and more restricted, so I may be barred from seeing my hospice patient soon. And I have two small groups who are scheduled to meet in my home in the next two weeks; I wonder if participants will be willing to come to at least one of them. The other group has only three of us; one said we can sit three feet apart; the other has a challenged immune system.

And then there is the flight planned to Baltimore; I’m going on my own, but I could unintentionally bring home whatever “guest” might hook up with me. We can wait several months to go on a mini-vacation to the Tampa Zoo and the Dali Museum, although we’d hoped to go in April. And the 12-day cruise beginning at the end of May, starting in Israel—who knows what will happen?

The world will not come to an end if all these plans fall through. There are people who are sick with the virus, and some have even died. My concerns are minor compared to theirs.

But we have a lot of uncertainty. Rather than denying those feelings, we are acknowledging them, facing them directly and trying to maintain an attitude of “not knowing,” of curiosity. We may coast through this time, illness-free. We may at some point decide to stay home and enjoy the many interests that we have here. We may feel sad about lost opportunities or pray for those who do become ill. We know that we will die one day; we just hope it is later rather than sooner. We will appreciate life, one day at a time, as best we can.

We’re just not the fear and panic type.

P.S. We received an email last night stating that nearly all the facilities in our development including the gyms will be closed indefinitely. They asked residents not to steal the hand sanitizer equipment and sanitary wipes.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn: We’re just not the fear and panic type.

    It never fixes anything.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We’re just not the fear and panic type.

    It never fixes anything.

    It doesn’t, @percival, but people believe they don’t have a choice. Because our thoughts are so powerful, we think they are real, but they come and go the same way as our in and out breaths. If you ask a person why he or she is panicking, the person will say, “I can’t help myself.” It’s a lot of work to deal with panicky thinking, and in some irrational way, people may even be embracing it. It makes them feel “alive.” Isn’t that odd: contemplating (at least subconsciously) that they could die makes a person feel alive. Very sad.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    By the way, if you have people in your life who are in panic mode, you can distract them by asking them (ask don’t tell) if they would like to try an exercise to help them feel less anxious. Then have them close their eyes, hands in their lap, and ask them to breathe. And sit for 60 seconds just noticing their in and out breath (or they can count each in breath and each out breath). After 60 seconds, ask them how they feel. If they did it, they will feel much less anxious. Yes, it’s temporary, but that practice is available to them all the time. And yes, it’s meditation, but you don’t have to mention that.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Because our thoughts are so powerful, we think they are real, but they come and go the same way as our in and out breaths. If you ask a person why he or she is panicking, the person will say, “I can’t help myself.” It’s a lot of work to deal with panicky thinking, and in some irrational way, people may even be embracing it. It makes them feel “alive.” Isn’t that odd: contemplating (at least subconsciously) that they could die makes a person feel alive. Very sad.

    I use the thoughts to tamp down the emotions, and my faith to keep despair at bay.

    Then I have a beer.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Because our thoughts are so powerful, we think they are real, but they come and go the same way as our in and out breaths. If you ask a person why he or she is panicking, the person will say, “I can’t help myself.” It’s a lot of work to deal with panicky thinking, and in some irrational way, people may even be embracing it. It makes them feel “alive.” Isn’t that odd: contemplating (at least subconsciously) that they could die makes a person feel alive. Very sad.

    I use the thoughts to tamp down the emotions, and my faith to keep despair at bay.

    Then I have a beer.

    Make that a margarita and I’m in!

    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Because our thoughts are so powerful, we think they are real, but they come and go the same way as our in and out breaths. If you ask a person why he or she is panicking, the person will say, “I can’t help myself.” It’s a lot of work to deal with panicky thinking, and in some irrational way, people may even be embracing it. It makes them feel “alive.” Isn’t that odd: contemplating (at least subconsciously) that they could die makes a person feel alive. Very sad.

    I use the thoughts to tamp down the emotions, and my faith to keep despair at bay.

    Then I have a beer.

    Make that a margarita and I’m in!

    I’ll drink to that!  (Right, @susanquinn?)

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    In wine there is truth. In beer there is freedom. In water there is bacteria.

    — Unknown

    Which has nothing to do with a viral situation, but the last thing I need is a bacterial infection.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Because our thoughts are so powerful, we think they are real, but they come and go the same way as our in and out breaths. If you ask a person why he or she is panicking, the person will say, “I can’t help myself.” It’s a lot of work to deal with panicky thinking, and in some irrational way, people may even be embracing it. It makes them feel “alive.” Isn’t that odd: contemplating (at least subconsciously) that they could die makes a person feel alive. Very sad.

    I use the thoughts to tamp down the emotions, and my faith to keep despair at bay.

    Then I have a beer.

    Make that a margarita and I’m in!

    I’ll drink to that! (Right, @susanquinn?)

    You betcha! 👍

    • #8
  9. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Asking people not to steal something sounds more like a reminder than a caution.

    Adult beverages selected to match mood.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Make that a margarita and I’m in!

    I have to give a writer at the Democratic Party’s Boston Globe credit for this. She wrote last Friday, “Make that a quarantini.” :-) 

    • #10
  11. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Because our thoughts are so powerful, we think they are real, but they come and go the same way as our in and out breaths. If you ask a person why he or she is panicking, the person will say, “I can’t help myself.” It’s a lot of work to deal with panicky thinking, and in some irrational way, people may even be embracing it. It makes them feel “alive.” Isn’t that odd: contemplating (at least subconsciously) that they could die makes a person feel alive. Very sad.

    I use the thoughts to tamp down the emotions, and my faith to keep despair at bay.

    Then I have a beer.

    Make that a margarita and I’m in!

    I’ll drink to that! (Right, @susanquinn?)

    You betcha! 👍

    Arahant would have a witty comment right here, but Arahant is gone for the time being, leaving me to make a witty comment.  And I have nothing, nothing. I don’t even have a comment about The Virus.  Wait. I have a sobering thought: Hardly anyone below the age of 40 has died of it. And In all the world, no one below the age of nine has died of it. The Coronavirus is a threat to old people like me and you guys.  It seems to be Nature’s way of culling the herd of the old, the unproductive, the unvirile, the infertile, and the weak. Nature does that sort of thing every now and then.  Nature sucks.  Since I fall into four of the five categories, I guess I should be worried.  But I’m not.  I don’t think I’m smart enough to worry.  Like you, I go about my business, whatever that is.  (I’m not suggesting you‘re not smart enough to worry.  I’m not.  Really!)

    • #11
  12. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    We have the same situation in our 55+ community. All of our recreation centers closed as of yesterday and all concerts and community activities have been cancelled.

    We did go out to eat on Friday and the restaurant seemed about normal for a Friday – guess we’ll wait and see what happens this week.

    On our Nextdoor app people are actually begging for TP – some are down to their last roll. Good grief! The stores are getting more in every day. We will need milk soon but I just don’t want to go to the store when people are being crazy. 

    Carry on!

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Asking people not to steal something sounds more like a reminder than a caution.

    Adult beverages selected to match mood.

    I suspect some have already gone missing. They wipes canister had disappeared at Publix.

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    It seems to be Nature’s way of culling the herd of the old, the unproductive, the unvirile, the infertile, and the weak.

    I think Nature should mind its own business!! Yes, we old farts have to stick together!

    • #14
  15. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Arahant would have a witty comment right here, but Arahant is gone for the time being, leaving me to make a witty comment. And I have nothing, nothing. I don’t even have a comment about The Virus. Wait. I have a sobering thought: Hardly anyone below the age of 40 has died of it. And In all the world, no one below the age of nine has died of it. The Coronavirus is a threat to old people like me and you guys. It seems to be Nature’s way of culling the herd of the old, the unproductive, the unvirile, the infertile, and the weak. Nature does that sort of thing every now and then. Nature sucks. Since I fall into four of the five categories, I guess I should be worried. But I’m not. I don’t think I’m smart enough to worry. Like you, I go about my business, whatever that is. (I’m not suggesting you‘re not smart enough to worry. I’m not. Really!)

    I am so happy you feel that way. I know how important it is to have your affairs together and be ready for whatever happens next. I had a health scare a couple of months ago, and I realized the source of my anxiety was the feeling “I’m not finished yet.” So I got to work on getting all of my papers together and stuff like that. :-) It did give me some peace of mind. But I still have some things I need to tend to before I step off the planet. And so do most adults of any age from twenty to a hundred–they have things to do and people to worry about, people who depend on them.

    Those of us who have peace of mind right now about our family and friends will have to be the steady hand on the anxiety till for the next month.

    And there you thought you weren’t needed. Hah! Without you, this ship will sink in terror for sure!

    Think of yourself of Dr. Marcus Welby from years ago, “Don’t worry. Everything will be all right.” And when you say it, people will believe it. It’s the most important care and help there is right now. It is more important than money or anything else.

    • #15
  16. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member
    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler
    @Muleskinner

    Susan Quinn:

    To deal with their anxiety regarding the COVID-19, they feel they have to do something…

    Two thoughts. I think that is human nature, Walker Percy asked why people seem happiest when they are in real danger, and depressed when life is the most comfortable? 

    The other is from the movie Canadian Bacon: “There is a time to think, and a time to act. And gentlemen, this is no time to think.”  Similarly from Yes, Minister: “This is an emergency, we must do something. This is something; therefore, we must do it.”

    • #16
  17. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    We went to the gym (big Lifetime fitness) yesterday.  Last Saturday the place was fairly busy, and some people were busybodies (“Are you going to wash your hands now?”) and some people were joking (careful or I’ll give you coronavirus…that was from someone’s trainer).  Yesterday, the place was very sparsely occupied. Of course, two thoughtless people decided that they had to exercise right next to me.  There are usually older people there, but now only one Jack-LaLane-esque gym rat.  Someone got into an arguement with a staff member (it might have been a trainer) and carried it outside loudly telling someone on her phone and everyone else all about it.

    I will admit to being anxious before we went.  I, too, am afraid.  But I think it is far better to say outright that I am afraid than to be afraid and show anger instead.

    • #17
  18. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

     

     

    Regarding the toilet paper: Every single time I have heard it mentioned, the mentioner seems bewildered – why toilet paper? I too am bewildered.

    If everybody is asking what’s the deal, who are the people buying it all??

    Maybe I just don’t get out enough.

    • #18
  19. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler (View Comment):

    Two thoughts. I think that is human nature, Walker Percy asked why people seem happiest when they are in real danger, and depressed when life is the most comfortable?

    The other is from the movie Canadian Bacon: “There is a time to think, and a time to act. And gentlemen, this is no time to think.” Similarly from Yes, Minister: “This is an emergency, we must do something. This is something; therefore, we must do it.”

    Attributed to director Martin Gabel by Leonard Lyons:

    At the first rehearsal of Irwin Shaw’s play, “The Assassin,” Producer Martin Gabel noticed a young actress gesticulating wildly instead of remaining motionless. Gabel shouted: “Don’t just do something; stand there.”

    Maybe it’s time.

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    We went to the gym (big Lifetime fitness) yesterday. Last Saturday the place was fairly busy, and some people were busybodies (“Are you going to wash your hands now?”) and some people were joking (careful or I’ll give you coronavirus…that was from someone’s trainer). Yesterday, the place was very sparsely occupied. Of course, two thoughtless people decided that they had to exercise right next to me. There are usually older people there, but now only one Jack-LaLane-esque gym rat. Someone got into an arguement with a staff member (it might have been a trainer) and carried it outside loudly telling someone on her phone and everyone else all about it.

    I will admit to being anxious before we went. I, too, am afraid. But I think it is far better to say outright that I am afraid than to be afraid and show anger instead.

    You highlight a concern I have. People at some point will hate feeling afraid. But they have to get rid of their feelings somehow, and anger is usually the go-to emotion. And even better, vent your anger on someone else. That’s why it’s better to express your fear honestly rather than take it out on others. Thanks, @9thdistrictneighbor.

    • #20
  21. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    I think that what your community needs may just be some good old American marketing, rather than more direct epidemic-related responses by public health officials.

    We buy mostly Kirklund brand toilet paper, which is the store brand of Cøstcø, a local Norwegian warehouse-style grocery store.

    Yesterday I went to buy a package of toilet paper and was surprised to see the shelves stocked to overflowing with packages of TP.  Occasionally a shopper would dash up to the display, pushing one of those big orange flatbed carts normally used to pick up a 15 kW backup generator, or a compact second TV, an 80 incher, for the kitchen.

    They’d glance at the products and then turn away dejectedly without stashing even a single 64-roll pack on their carts.

    When I got to the statuesque Viking checkout girl, Ingrid, with my purchase I asked her how the store had managed to instill such public-spirited discipline in their shoppers, when arch-rival Costco was the site of  ongoing bedlam.

    “Look at the label on your toilet paper,” she murmured, a hint of ancient bloodlust visible in her blue eyes as she glanced at my vulnerable Anglo-Scottish neck.

    I did as she suggested, nodded in sudden understanding, and took my package out to the car.

    “Corona(TM) Toilet Tissue.”

    = = = = = = = =

    Keywords: Ethnic Slurs/Nordic, Satire, Demeaning Use of “Girl”

    • #21
  22. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Suzy,

    We’ve got one great advantage in Florida. Publix knows the drill from Hurricane season. They are used to handling the craziness. A little advice befriend somebody who works there. They’ll tell you when the truck is coming. Show up 5 minutes before. Without craziness, you’ll get what you need. They will stay open no matter what.

    Gd bless Publix. (I’ve never actually blessed a corporation before.)

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    I think that what your community needs may just be some good old American marketing, rather than more direct epidemic-related responses by public health officials.

    You’re probably right, @markcamp. They refer to government guidelines, but they also don’t want to be left out. And seniors can be really awful, too: what are you doing to protect us? Why aren’t you making us feel safe? I’m going to miss the gym the most; I’ll probably do more walking, which doesn’t cover all the body parts, but it’s something. Gotta keep everything moving!

    • #23
  24. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Some people aren’t shaking hands because of  COVID-19. I’m not shaking hands because everyone is out of toilet paper.

    • #24
  25. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Some people aren’t shaking hands because of COVID-19. I’m not shaking hands because everyone is out of toilet paper.

    Still playing golf twice a week, and we always shake after the round. Then head right for the clubhouse bathroom to wash up.

    Also, @occupantcdn has a hilarious meme posted on the memes group.

    http://ricochet.com/members/occupantcdn/activity/1714709/

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We’re just not the fear and panic type.

    It never fixes anything.

    Bene-Gesserit prayer from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune (my favorite book):

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Stad (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We’re just not the fear and panic type.

    It never fixes anything.

    Bene-Gesserit prayer from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune (my favorite book):

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    Fabulous, Stad. My kind of guy!

    • #27
  28. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Stad (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We’re just not the fear and panic type.

    It never fixes anything.

    Bene-Gesserit prayer from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune (my favorite book):

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

    A great science fiction novel, Stad.  Maybe the greatest.

    • #28
  29. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    I started slowly stocking up on things back in mid-January, when I first heard about the Wuhan virus – on top of the normal “Florida stock” I keep on hand most of the year.

    I could, without any more prep, stay in my house for a good two months.

    Now, I might go completely stir-crazy, but at least I won’t be starving or without TP.

    Of course, due to the convention business shutting down completely, I’ll be completely broke by mid-September, but that’s a question I can address slowly over the next few months.

     

    • #29
  30. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

     

     

    Regarding the toilet paper: Every single time I have heard it mentioned, the mentioner seems bewildered – why toilet paper? I too am bewildered.

    If everybody is asking what’s the deal, who are the people buying it all??

    Maybe I just don’t get out enough.

    I think people are asking what’s the deal as they snag any paper products in sight.

    • #30