All roads, and conversations, lead back to coronavirus. That’s how it feels these days. It’s exhausting.
Even the things that aren’t explicitly about cornavirus end up being related. Someone asks what I did with my afternoon. I made masks. I ask them about their weekend plans. They can’t go out, so they’ll be working on a jigsaw puzzle. I suppose it’s inevitable that when our lives become so collectively upended, we’re going to keep talking about it. Of course, for those of us with chronic illness who know that family and friends get tired of hearing about our illness, this feels a bit hypocritical. But I hope that it leads to more compassion going forward.
Personally, I find it stressful to be constantly focused on the pandemic, so I handle it in the best way I know how: I change the subject. I ask what books they’ve read, what movie’s they’ve watched. I ask about their job, about their kids, about the weather. I tell them about something interesting that I read or did.
Sometimes a subject change isn’t enough. They keep coming back to the big C. More than once, I have explicitly told someone, “Talking about this is stressing me out. Do you mind if we talk about something else?” If that doesn’t work and they keep going back to it, or if there’s a group of us talking, I’ll say, “I can’t handle talking about this right now. Let’s talk another time.” Is it rude? Maybe. I try to keep it light, but I can’t control how someone else takes it. And at the end of the day, my own mental health is important.
Some people feel the need to talking about the pandemic and our collective isolation. I get that. For them, talking about it is helpful. It’s a way to vent. For others, it becomes an unhealthy obsession. Either way, it’s not healthy for me to talk about it. Oh sure, I discuss it here and there. It’s hard not to. But when I feel myself being drawn in, feeling stressed, or otherwise responding badly, I pull away. I change the subject.
Maybe you’re someone who wants to talk about this situation constantly. Maybe, you feel the need to discuss it about 99% less than you currently do. Likely, you fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless, I encourage you to figure out what your sweet spot is, then figure out how to reach it. It can be difficult to finesse conversations. I get that. It can’t always be done, like in formal settings when the manager says, “Let’s all go around the group and talk about how we’re doing before we start things.” I understand why they do that, but it stresses me out and I wish they wouldn’t. Sometimes I leave the conversation. Most of the time I stick it out, and that’s why it’s more important than ever that my social conversations remain social and not stressful. I hope that you can find a way to get the social conversations that you need as well.
What have your conversations been like regarding the pandemic? Have you found a balance that works for you? Would you like to discuss it less or more? Please comment below and share your perspectives and experiences!