“IF I CAN'T TOUCH MY FACE SOON, I MAY NEED TO GO TO THERAPY!” I tweeted last week when coronavirus panic seemed to reach a new high.
I’m a psychotherapist—I write the “Dear Therapist” column for this publication—and underneath the quip was the hope that others might feel less alone in this very strange and anxiety-provoking time. Yes, we have bigger concerns than suppressing the urge to touch our face all day long (though who knew we touched it so much?). Yes, people are dying, others are critically ill, and more confirmed cases are announced daily.
But also, there’s this: Our hands are chapped from sanitizers and soap, our kids are home from school, our workplaces are shutting down, our in-person gatherings have been canceled, and our grocery-store shelves are nearly empty. In other words, our lives are affected in ways big and small, but at least we’re in this seemingly surreal situation together.
That was what I was getting at, anyway. Then someone tweeted back at me: “Not funny.”
It’s true; a global pandemic isn’t funny. But as we all take measures to protect our physical health, we also need to protect our emotional health. So what I responded with was this: “Everyone copes with horrible situations differently. For some, humor is a balm. It’s BOTH/AND: It’s horrible AND we can allow our souls to breathe.”