What To Do When You Feel Guilty About Possibly Contracting COVID-19 After Trying So Hard To Stay Well

Woman feeling guilty about possible COVID-19 symptoms.

What If You Have COVID-19 or COVID-like Symptoms?

You can hardly turn on any media or go anywhere without worrying about getting the COVID-19 virus or exposing someone you love who may be at high risk. Most of us have to go out or take some risks on a daily basis. You work so hard to be careful, keeping your distance, wearing gloves, putting on masks, using hand sanitizer, and limiting exposure. All this in an effort to avoid becoming infected. It is about the fear of becoming sick or dying but for some, it is also the shame of being a failure at being careful enough.

It seems like you already feel enough anxiety and pressure about just worrying about a job, kids in school, getting enough PPE without adding feeling guilty or ashamed. So if you have a symptom of COVID-19 (and there are so many to have) like a stuffy nose, sore throat, fever, cough, joint pain or the like, what can you do or who can you tell to not feel so bad about it? When is it helpful to tell someone or even call the doctor?

When a dog or cat gets sick they often go and hide under the bed. Maybe that is what you think. Perhaps you pretend to not be sick (try not to cough or blow your nose so others won’t notice). Staying away may be helpful to others, but it doesn’t help you deal with your own anxiety and guilty feelings.

Think About Your Husband Or Wife

It’s common for people who have guilty feelings to dig in and attempt to solve issues on their own. If you’re part of a marriage or partnership, consider that you’re stronger together as a team. Instead of tackling painful issues alone, work together to address the fear and shame rather than doing it on your own. You might not want to frighten your spouse, but if you are sick, they will know sooner or later.

In this case, two heads are stronger than just one.

What If You Give It To Someone You Love?

Then there is the worry that you could infect your own family or others you care about. How would you manage that, especially if their symptoms are worse than yours.

We recently saw our children and grandchildren. One of the main things they were worried about was that they might give us the virus and it would kill us. How would you go about telling them that you think you are infected?

What Should You Be Feeling?

There is no right way to feel in the face of being sick. You feel what you feel, but it might be that aside from the physical symptoms you have added on another layer of worry. Sharing your feelings about being sick might reduce that anxiety about being a failure at staying well. You are not  weak in the face of the pandemic, just cautious, even courageous,

A recent New York Times article found that older people in the Villages in Florida reported, “Even if they have had the virus, most Villages residents were reluctant to talk about it. One resident declined to be interviewed because he was embarrassed after getting infected at a party. People are being very secretive…It’s like the plague and they don’t want to let anybody else know that they’re sick.”

There is no correct way to feel. Sharing your feelings can help you feel better or at least not alone. Maybe just sharing regularly what you feel is the way to go.

Turn Your Guilty Feelings Around

If your guilt persists or is debilitating, in and of itself, that is not healthy. Taking responsibility for communicating is not the same as feeling guilty. Let others know what you feel. If you take some actions and act responsibly then you will be able to tell yourself that you’re doing something about it. Think about guilt in the context of your habits. For example, if you’re worried about your health, but also eat responsibly and take a multi-vitamin each day, you can take a break from your guilt knowing you’re doing the “right things” to stay healthy.

Wearing a mask, and other safety measures do the same thing. They will help you create a sense of “responsible action” for your life, those you love, and the strangers you meet along the way.

It can really help. If that does not do the trick, consider seeing a health or mental health professional. It might only take a short time to feel better.

We have been helping a lot of people these days deal with feeling related to the pandemic. Feel free to contact us for consultation or an appointment. Call us at 434-971-4701.

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