Living with Covid Anxiety

Punit Pania
3 min readMar 27, 2020

The world has ended many times but life goes on. Only ways of life end. And there is collateral damage. There always is. Religions find ways to justify the Wrath of God. Science tells us to learn from the mistakes. And economics corners the spoils of the destruction. The loss always remains personal.

Thousands have died, lakhs of lives will change forever, millions will be inconvenienced. And all we can do is wait and look at our screens. Following news by the hour was never good for health. Now it is downright harmful yet somehow necessary. Like all of modern life. From the jobs we do to the food we eat, all designed to create and maintain anxiety. Add to that a clear and present danger that will soon enter your suburb, then your street. It would be unnatural not be anxious and even scared.

A lot of us are not going to make it through this pandemic one way or the other. Unemployment, poverty, loneliness, dysfunctional families and deathly existentialism. All of these were already weighing down on our lives. Only now there is no way to escape them and no place to hide. The world has always been hanging on a thread. And it ends every week for so many lives that are changed permanently and seemingly without warning: accidents, suicides, terminal illnesses and betrayals. But these don’t make it to prime time. Now we face a common fate. But it doesn’t feel any nicer. Honesty and justice are bedtime stories we keep telling ourselves to help us sleep at night. But we all know how broken the world is. So when a threat comes down to us, we bail. We justify everything form corruption to police brutality for our petty survival instinct disguised as the ‘Greater Good’.

Because we know things can always get worse, a part of us even wishes they do. Totalitarianism, surveillance, Emergencies, vanishing human rights — time is ripe for all of it, perhaps it always has been. Hate, power and politics never take a day off, even in quarantine. Unlike love, hate vanes when not practiced everyday. That is where corporations and political parties come in. Even super villains can have an off day. But evil systems run in perpetuity. This is precisely the time when our rights get taken away and we will give them away happily. Don’t let the fear take away your humanity.

What can a generation that finds it difficult to get out of bed in the morning do about it? They can barely say no to their video games. How will they speak truth to power? Good therapy creates survivors, commerce creates victims. Anxiety takes many forms but most of it comes from a deep revulsion with ourselves. We know the blackness in our hearts. We have built an entire sociable personality around it. All our interactions are transactional at best and parasitic at worst. Every connection from money to love seeks to extract something and gives very little in return. At the global level it all adds up to the disaster we have turned our environment into. The denial and helplessness about what we have done to the world are very telling of the way we live our own lives. In constant unaddressed mortality.

Covid anxiety is very real. But we cannot let a new term help us avoid our old problems. We have always been living on borrowed time. The biggest fear in life is that the world will go in some shape or form and we will only end up being a statistic. Unfortunately, it is not a fear. It is as factual as a statement can get. In the worst of times, there is always one choice that is left. That of facing the situation with dignity. The only way to conquer all fears is to live as if you are going to die tomorrow. And now it is a statistically significant outlook. So get your shit together, make the calls you have been avoiding for months and clean your damn room. That will probably make you feel better than any 5 point forward.

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