Case study: Terry

Terry is a social worker in an emergency department. When the pandemic began, their hospital soon became understaffed and overburdened. Terry wanted to practice good habits with personal protective equipment, although there were times when it ran in short supply.

One day before starting their shift, Terry tested positive for COVID-19. They had no choice but to take time off work.

While quarantined at home, Terry began to feel a lot of stress and guilt about their colleagues having to cover their responsibilities. Their emotional state shifted toward bitterness and anger, then worsened when a colleague called to complain that Terry was still off duty.

Terry’s family noticed these changes in them and started to worry. However, with support from their partner, Terry found a way to accept their situation. They realized it was not their fault they’d become sick, and that they could not change their reality no matter how hard they tried.

This feeling of acceptance helped Terry handle their negative emotions. They became able to practice self-compassion and realized their own suffering was just one part of the larger human experience of the pandemic.

Looking back on it now, Terry can even feel compassion for the colleague who had called to complain to them. With effort, they have learned how to move past their bitterness, guilt, and anger.

Image generated by Midjourney.