Yet, we do not truly know whether we will react with panicked fear or calm action until the event occurs.
A car crash. A family member choking. Someone requiring CPR. A pandemic, perhaps? I can now say that I have had to deal with all of these events in my lifetime. With each, I found myself calm in the moment and able to assess and act accordingly. I only broke down crying after the choking incidents, probably because it was family: my mom many years ago and my son on his first day of kindergarten. (Both are OK.)
Despite the unprecedented scenario unfolding on the world stage today, I find myself calm. I am worried, for sure, but I also know it’s important not to panic. The brain doesn’t plan well or make good decisions when it’s panicked.
Working in both education and healthcare, volunteering for a community benefit organization like Rainbow and being a mom of two kiddos means I have been privileged to learn from so many different perspectives and to be surrounded by amazing folks who make their life’s work about helping others.
When I’m worried, I look to leaders who are handling the situation well. I find they are calm and cautious. They take in information from reliable sources, learn from others, remain vigilant and communicate their plans clearly.
They are leaders who are making sure not to stigmatize any group, spread xenophobia, or create fear and panic.
They hold space for the anxiety that comes from not knowing and the oversharing of misinformation. And they make sure to think of those who might be most marginalized and how decisions will impact their lives.
It is vital to provide guidance, remain calm and act quickly when needed. As such, I want to highlight the best responses I’ve seen from my favorite LGBTQI+ organizations: Rainbow Community Center (executive director Kiku Johnson) and Our Family Coalition (interim ED Sam Ames) plus a wonderful family support organization, Mended Little Hearts.
It’s important not to become disconnected during this time, so call a friend if you are in self-quarantine. Yes, we should practice social distancing to stop the spread of the virus, but mental health is also important so be sure to reach out to friends or family by phone; a video call is a great way to keep connected.
Stay calm, be cautious, make plans and take action. Stay informed. Wash your hands. And be well, my friends. Go to cdc.gov/coronavirus for more information.
Dodi Zotigh is the board president of the Rainbow Center serving the LGBTQ community in Concord. Send questions and comments to Dodi@rainbowcc.org.