Fear paralysis, job responsibilities and COVID


I don't even know how to describe what I have been feeling the past several days other than an almost mental and physical paralysis due to the COVID-19 virus. I am not afraid of the virus, the food shortages, societal panic etc it is because of the responsibilities that come with my job. I am responsible for putting together the operational and emergency response plan for my organization but it also goes further than that because we are a public service agency that provides necessary services to the public of all ages. We don't have the option of closing to the public, we can take steps to minimize contact with members of the public but elimination entirely is impossible. I also have a very limited budget and we don't have the resources or the infrastructure in place to allow for remote working even in essential positions and I am terrified that I am going to screw this up and I am somehow going to be responsible for someone or their loved one getting sick and dying because I didn't do the right thing, couldn't figure out the right things to do and I am floundering and I feel like I have the lives of my own family, my employees, their families and the entire community on my shoulders and no one to help or tell me that it is going to be okay.

I am sorry, I know that there are a lot of people here around the world that have things much worse right now but all I want to do is curl up in a ball and I can't because I know that if I do the worst will happen and it will be at least partially my fault.
Hi @FauxLiz ... all you can do is your best. Some days that'll be a lot. Some days not so much. But that's all you can realistically do.

We don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I'm confident that you doing the best you can will be enough. You can take time for you to curl up in a ball without things completely falling apart!


First, maybe realize that it's not your fault there are limitations? It's too bad that they're there, but that part of this is what it is, right? Not your fault.

Beyond that, yours is the kind of situation where I'm always tempted to assume total responsibility and not talk about anything with anyone else involved. I'm not a huge fan about talking about stuff, but situations like the one you're in are one of the few where I've actually found it to be helpful. The more view points you get, the less likely you'll over look something and the better everyone else will understand what's going on. Beyond that, organizations like the CDC and WHO (and I'm sure lots of universities etc) have some really good web sites with a lot of useful information.

I sure don't blame you for being stressed and I hope the rest of your organization steps up to the challenge along with you!


Thank you all for the encouragement. I made it through today, I had to make some very hard decisions and will most like have to make more tomorrow but with the ongoing directives from state government, the federal government, CDC and WHO the fluidity of needing to address things as they change each day mean decisions every day.


Very little is more difficult than sending other people to their deaths.

I was never trained in this... although it’s part and parcel with several jobs above my paygrade / I know far too many people who’ve not only done it, they’ve been to school for it.

I know I relied on those people when I sent other people to die. Because they’ve been there, and done that, and will continue to do it. Some have been trained for it, others simply rose to it, and lived with it.

So that would be my suggestion. Either hit up those who live with this, day in and day out... or break out the research skills,.. and pour through curriculum, designed to make these decisions.... not easier, per se, but better understood.


You win some, you lose some. << Heckuva useful thing someone told me back a while for lines of job where people dying is just bound to happen.

You deal with it with as much healthy support as you can and continue helping people to the best of your ability... because what you try for is what matters, the rest is life being life.

* * *

Longer answer...

Its usually not just a one man's screw up. Even if it IS a f*ck up and not just life doing its tragic gig over and over. There's whole crews of interlinked people that should have each other's backs.

Feels all fault of yours. I know.
It isn't.

Sending people to their deaths, literally, is wee bit different than trying to save lives and not being able to, or assisting lives and not being able to...

You are *not* doing that thing.
Catastrophizing trauma brains are still different from trauma brains where that is a reality. So all the cookies for going there to yours...

As it means you are super responsible ;)
But no.
Don't take on that you are sending people to their deaths. You aren't.


And for those people that *are*?
You are sending the best people...
To the place of peace.
To help others with that grade of cockup nobody & nothing else could right it.

You are trusting them with humanity...
With most cherished about Life, at large...
And you are making the right call.

That will always hurt.
But is still right.
And: worth a silent salute.

And as many shots to drink after as you need.