Pandemic Pitfalls: Avoiding the Compare-despair Trap
Remember those “100 Things to Do During a Pandemic” emails that arrived in our inboxes a while back? Well, a few days ago, I came across one, and while reading it, I felt the symptoms of “compare-despair” welling up in my mind.
Years ago, I might have followed the negativity and listened to the feelings of not accomplishing enough during these past weeks of nationwide pause. But living with ALS has taught me the value of not comparing what I do with the accomplishments of others. I have learned to appreciate everyone’s creative spirit and the ways they express it.
Have I reorganized my closet, learned a new language, or planted a vegetable garden? No, and I probably never will. Instead, I’ve been following my daily routines and doing simple things, including writing a weekly column and emailing friends. Compare-despair would have had me feeling inadequate. In its place, I know I’m practicing good self-care and helping to support my body’s health and immune system.
During this stressful situation, we all have different ways of coping. For some, cleaning and tackling home projects are a good way to diffuse their stress. Others may find comfort binge-watching favorite videos.
Super mask makers
I belong to a local fiber arts group that, like many clubs in our town, had to suspend our meetings due to the stay-at-home directives. A call went out that facial masks were needed by local organizations, and our group jumped into action. Over 40 sewers working from home produced colorful masks that were delivered to the volunteers at food banks, women’s shelters, and the fire department, as well as to neighbors and family members. One woman alone made over 300!
Did I make any masks? No, my ALS has limited my sewing skills. Did I feel inadequate because I couldn’t contribute or participate? No, I felt pride and shared in the celebration of our community spirit. No compare-despair here.
ALS patients do it, too
Comparing ourselves to others happens all the time. I’ve notice it even among ALS patients. We compare symptoms, medications, and what we’re still able to do or not able to do anymore. We compare, even though we know ALS differs from person to person. Symptoms differ, rate of progression varies, and even medications and treatments are individualized.
But we still do it: “What? You’ve had ALS for five years and are still walking, and I’m stuck in a power chair after only one year?”
Instead, we need to offer our empathy and support and cheer one another on. Just as there’s no one way to react during a pandemic, there’s no one way to live with ALS.
Together, we can survive this pandemic crisis and live well while living with ALS.
Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.