Calming Our Unfounded Fears

How to stop the nagging voice of doom

Calming unfounded fears - Petros - good mental health

I have two daughters.

Both in their 20s, my eldest is safely ensconced in her house share with three friends.

My youngest is far away, adrift on the Caribbean, aboard a ship that cannot dock.

My eldest’s house mates have formed a close family unit. It is interesting how easily we can adapt in times of need; they eat together, shop together, take care of and support each other. Last weekend they even did their own ‘Come Dine with Me’ and videoed the whole process. It was great to share their enjoyment and watch how my daughter could laugh at how seriously she took it all.

So, here I am feeling relieved and OK, as a mum, knowing my eldest daughter is safe with her friends. She is also still working as a teacher from home and sends me videos of her reading stories to her pupils and their parents. All is well in her household and I don’t worry about her.

My youngest daughter, however, is on a cruise ship out in the Caribbean. Some of the crew have contracted Coronavirus and, as a result, the ship is unable to put into port and is now split into zones. RED for those with the virus, AMBER for those who may display symptoms and, finally, GREEN for everyone else who remains well. My daughter is in the green zone and has been in her cabin for 25 days and counting… Do I worry? Good question.

I battle with my internal nagging, fearmongering voice that tries to break down my resilience, especially when it’s screaming:

“She’s going to die!”
“She can’t survive in a cabin for four weeks, it’s not possible…”

“Why did she take that cruise job?”

“Why did I let her go?”

“I’m a terrible mother!”

What’s true of all the above statements is that they do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO HELP ME in these challenging times. If anything, they try their damndest to make me suffer – big time!

So, I hold on to my steady reflective, practical head. First, I think and repeat…

My daughter is SAFE.  She is being looked after.

She gets three meals a day.

She receives water.

She has a balcony, on which she can sit in the sun and get fresh air.

There is a hospital on the boat.

People are being taken care of.

There are no deaths.

The boat sailed to Barbados and someone was helicoptered off to hospital because they were ill.

She is NOT ILL.  She’s in the green zone and not coming into contact with anyone thought to be infected.

The boat management check on her twice a day, showing how they look after their staff.

She has Wi-Fi and speaks on the phone and via Whatsapp.

She listens to music.

She regularly posts to Instagram and her 3,000 followers!

She is being positive and acknowledging what an unusual situation she is in.

She is in contact with lots of friends and family.

She sees the most beautiful sunsets… She is fine.

Then, I reflect and take action. My husband and I contacted the UK Foreign Office and the cruise management company to reassure ourselves of their stance and the action they intend to take on our daughter’s behalf. We HAVE NOT catastrophized the situation and made it worse for ourselves or our daughter.

In doing so I have kept the unfounded fears, the nagging voice in check and continuously remind myself of Professor Jo Clarke’s short blog ‘Then Don’t Worry’, because worry would be no help to me right now.

Then don't worry - Petros - good mental health

By contacting the cruise company we receive daily updates and this is incredibly reassuring. We also know, at some point in the future,  maybe in a week or two, or even longer, she will be home. The company are already chartering flights to repatriate the staff. We will see her soon.

It feels great to keep calm the unfounded fear; the nagging voice at bay and we’re both eagerly looking forward to being reunited and finally laying those unfounded fears to rest.

Maxine Daniels  is a registered Senior Trainer and Psychotherapist

Discover more about Dr Maxine Daniels on Petros People page.