My First Rodeo by Lois Hewitt

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Here we are quarantined because of the Corona Virus.  There is a lot of time to think in these very quiet times. Fear is all around from many as is indifference from some.  Some are welcoming the slower pace and others are going stir crazy.  It is uncertain times, for sure.

As I was thinking about this virus yesterday, and trying to stay calm, my mind traveled back to another time.  My first rodeo time back in the early 1980s.  I was a teenager in the 70s and acting rather reckless.  I did some things that I would NEVER even, for a moment, think about doing today.  But I was young, dumb and very angry at life.

In early 1981, I decided to clean up my act and start putting my life together.  Then came, seemingly out of the blue, a virus no one had ever heard of…AIDS.  Remember, at the very beginning, even scientists seemed blindsided.  Please note that I am NOT comparing AIDS to Corona, but I am comparing the FEAR of the unknown of each.

The general understanding at the time was cloudy as to how it was transmitted.  Airborne? Contact? Toilet seats? Risky behavior? It was unclear.  Since I was still very close to my reckless days, I totally freaked out with absolute blind fear.  This manifested itself in some extreme OCD tendencies on my part.

I started washing my hands a lot, sometimes 4 or 5 times an hour.  I was spraying Lysol on every surface over and over.  I took up to three showers a day.  I was afraid to leave the house.  Every time I left there was a two hour ritual, similar to hazmat cleansing, that took place: clothes were washed immediately and disinfected, the car was cleaned with Lysol, I showered again, everything that came into the house from the outside was inspected and cleaned several times.  Even stepping outside meant these procedure had to be done and it had to be done in the correct order or I would have to start all over again.  It was literally and figuratively exhausting.

There is no Internet at the time (thank goodness), so watching talk shows and news shows was the source of information.  Everyone had theories but no definitive explanations.  The panic continued for years.  I could not sleep I was so scared.  I kept tally of the number of cases and where they were, it was a crazy time.

I finally learned to function in my fear.  I looked only slightly crazy on the outside, but on the inside I was a complete mess.  I let the fear of the unknown grab hold of me and my constant worrying feed the fear and made it grow.  Washing my hands with bleach probably contributed to my future weakness to infections. The things I did then are still impacting me today.  I still have OCD tendencies, but I have learned to use them in productive ways.  Some times during stressful situations I find myself falling back into the chaos of checking and rechecking, but I can usually talk myself off the ledge now.

So what is the point here?  I spent a good part of my 20s in fear of an unknown.  While healthy fear is a good thing, that’s what keeps a person safe, unhealthy fear is as damaging as the disease itself.  Stress and worry can be detrimental to ones health and emotional wellbeing.  So as I ride out the Corona Virus, I plan to take the threat to myself and others seriously, but I also plan to not panic.

I have learned that educating oneself tends to ward off the panic.  Being fearful, no matter the extent of that fear, does not help the situation.  Understanding that the answers may be slow in coming, doing those things that seem necessary and staying calm are the choices we make that will see us all through this challenging situation.

This is an unprecedented time.  Everyone has the right to voice their opinions on platforms that can be read by many (heck, even I have a blog Lol:), but remember not everyone is skilled or knowledgeable enough to speak on every subject.  I guess what I am trying to say is, just because something shows up in print, it does not mean it is true.  Please take the time to research the facts, choose who you listen to and use common sense in your actions.

I want you all to be and stay healthy both physically and emotionally.  That is why I tell you these dumb things I have done, so that you do not have to live through them or if you did that you are not alone like I always thought I was.

Today, I choose to be calm.  Be safe as well as kind!!!  Love you all!!!

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