How to Distinguish Between a Public Safety Crisis and a Personal Anxiety

Tips on when to stop worrying and start acting from a Wuhan coronavirus evacuee

Imani Bashir
Forge
Published in
4 min readMar 2, 2020

--

A child wears a medical mask out of concern over the Coronavirus at the JFK terminal that serves planes bound for China.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

UUnless you’re constitutionally incapable of worry (in which case, wow, enjoy!), the novel coronavirus outbreak has likely stirred up some anxiety. Across the world, people are stockpiling resources and canceling travel. But how can you tell the difference between ordinary levels of concern and an anxiety-fueled overreaction?

I had to face this head-on recently when a trip to Malaysia ended up doubling as an evacuation. You see, for the last year, I’ve been living in Wuhan, China, with my husband and three-year-old son. We came to Wuhan with open minds. We had already traveled to multiple cities in China and were ready for a change.

Of course, I had my doubts. I’m an anxious person generally, and it’s natural to be nervous about moving somewhere new. As parents, we’re always hoping that we’re making the best choices for our children. But Wuhan felt family-friendly, and the cost of living was so much lower than in the U.S., where we’re from. I never expected to be in the epicenter of a global epidemic.

We tend to watch crises from afar and say, “Oh, that’s terrible.” That’s what I thought when I first heard about the…

--

--

Imani Bashir
Forge
Writer for

Writer & World Traveler IG & Twitter: @sheisimanib!