All fears are irrational to a certain degree.
If you put a snake next to someone, and tell them it’s harmless, and they don’t need to be scared, it doesn’t mean they can just switch the fear off. Fear resides in our primitive brain, in our limbic system, and our fight or flight response is hard-wired in. It’s hard to override that even with rational thoughts.
Which is why I was surprised to discover I’ve developed a mild fear of being ill.
Having Covid-19 was a very frightening experience.
I was very very ill, for a significant period of time, and when I thought I was better, I got worse again, and stayed ill for weeks. I was extremely worried that the fatigue and the headaches and the intermittent fevers and the general feeling of being unwell would last forever and turn into Long Covid.
Thankfully, after nearly 7 weeks of feeling terrible (pretty much all of January and February), I did then start to feel properly better, and have felt back to normal ever since early March, so it’s been a good 6 weeks of feeling fine, which makes me feel confident I don’t have Long Covid.
Then my daughter got a cold.
Normally that’s pretty standard for a 3-year old at nursery, but this year has been different. Other than Covid she’s not been ill at all for nearly a year. When she first got her cold, and starting dripping disgusting snot everywhere I thought, well actually it’s probably a good thing. Kids her age are usually picking up colds and bugs all the time and it’s good for their immune system to be exposed to bugs and germs and learn to fight them off. And given that she hasn’t been ill at all for nearly a year I was wondering what the impact of that might be on the development of her immune system.
She was ill for a few days, feeling pretty grotty, and then recovered, as you do when you have a cold.
But I started to feel uneasy about whether or not I would get it too, and if I did, how quickly I would recover from it. Since having Covid, I have a slight fear of getting ill again, and fear of feeling that bad all over again, and I feel frankly a tiny bit traumatised just thinking about it.
Instead of catching her cold, I got a bit of a scratchy sore throat, and a terrible headache that has lasted for a few days, and some general fatigue. I couldn’t switch off the part of my brain that was convinced that my Covid headaches were back, because they felt the same, and it was terrifying. The headaches were awful the first time around and wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. I felt tired, as my body was clearly fighting off a cold, but it’s so odd feeling frightened of a basic cold.
My rational brain knows that it’s fine, that I just had a cold, it passed soon enough, and I was just fine. But my fear was freaking out, about how similar the headaches and the fatigue and the sore throat were to Covid.
I didn’t have any official Covid symptoms and so did not take another test, as you can still test positive up to 90 days after having Covid and I didn’t want to risk triggering another 10 days of isolation. Frankly, I also now have an irrational fear of taking Covid tests, in case it comes back positive again. I’m also very apprehensive about my vaccination (though I will still get one) as I have heard that people who’ve had Covid already tend to have worse side effects from the vaccine, which will no doubt bring it all back all over again.
Nothing else much to say, except that I’ve developed a mild phobia of being ill apparently, and I’m hoping over time that will go away too…