Rachel Dubrow, LCSW
What to do with the guilty feeling when you get diagnosed with COVID-19
As therapists, we've had the honor and privilege of walking alongside our clients through the pandemic thus far. We've heard about the fears of getting the virus, the challenges of the stay at home order and phases of opening back up, and have helped our clients navigate this particularly uncomfortable transition period.
We've also had a chance to learn firsthand from our clients about what it is like to have COVID-19. So, putting aside all of the "how to's" related to getting through this pandemic, we dedicate this blog post to everyone who has (and to those in the future who will) survive having the COVID-19 virus.
You've heard at least one of these lines before, right?
Where'd you get it from?
Weren't you being careful?
We can't believe you got it.
After hearing one of those lines, it seems like the logical thought process goes towards this: I feel so guilty. But, here's the thing: if you're feeling guilty, it means that you are 100% certain that you know where you contracted the virus. What we do know is that it is highly unlikely that we will ever truly know the origin of the virus. We might think that we got it from being around person X. But who was that person around that had it? And where did they get it from? In reality, we just don't know. If we don't know, then assuming guilt doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it?
So let's replace the word guilt with something else.
What about sympathy with those around you who are going through some variance of what you are?
Or, how about replacing guilt with the word relief that you are likely to now have antibodies that can (hopefully) prevent someone else from contracting the virus.
Instead of guilt, what about in control of being able to do what you need to right now to recover?
And finally, instead of guilt, how about peace of mind that where you contracted doesn't matter in the long run. Sure, the CDC contact tracers are wanting the data and we know you'll be honest about that with them. But this isn't the plague, it's a pandemic. A global pandemic. And since we didn't cause it as single individuals, there's no one specific to blame.
When someone asks you the "where'd you get it" question, your answer can be a variance of this:
Thanks for thinking of me. I'm [insert on of the other words or phrases above instead of guilt]. I'm hopeful this will be behind all of us soon so we can start creating our new normal.
We're here to help support you if you're sick with the virus - and sincerely hope that you're feeling better soon. We know it can be a long road to recovery and are available to talk if you need additional support during this time. We're virtual only for now, so no need to worry if you're still in the contagious period. Contact us to schedule your free 15-minute consult.