Putting Paranoia to Good Use

Some people need to be scared into action.

I like to think that I obsess over negative thoughts as a way of preparing myself for an emergency.

For instance, my partner and I have been living together for close to five years. Prior to that, I have never been away from my childhood home and I was always in the company of older sisters and their families. Being the youngest, I was looked after the most, ever since I was little. I guess my personality of being quite timid and reluctant to try new things on my own signalled to my mom and older sisters that I would need some guidance in most things in life, so I got pretty used to having someone to call and ask help from every time I came across a puzzling situation or a dilemma. There was always someone I could rely on for rescue.

Moving out of the family nest and living with just one other person has been an eye-opening experience. It taught me to become independent and to master just about every task that has to be done around the house. Not that I wasn’t taught housework before I moved out, but I always had sisters to share the tasks with on an alternating basis. In my new situation, I took charge of most of the responsibilities: cooking, cleaning the house, planning meals, buying groceries, budgeting and balancing our checkbook, and others.

One thought that has always been quietly nagging me is: What will I do in case of an emergency? There’s only the two of us here. What if, God forbid, one of us suffers an injury like a broken leg, or loses consciousness, or suffers a heart attack?

I would go through all the facts: We rented a studio type condominium unit on the 6th floor of the building. There are two elevators and three sets of stairs. Do I call for help out in the hallway of our floor, or should I immediately call for an ambulance and carry my partner down? Can I pull him to the elevator and out to the street from the lobby without help from the lobby guard, in case this happens in the middle of the night? Should I have a bag packed with our important documents, IDs, ATM cards and money if the fire alarm should ring? What if I can’t call the hospital, can I flag down a taxi on my own? Do I call his parents first? What if I’m the one who suffers a medical emergency; what will my partner do?

My partner and I have since moved to two other places. Our second place was an apartment on the building’s fourth floor, with no elevators and no lobby guard (that threw me into long nights of thinking up scenarios for emergency situations). Our current place, however, is a house in a well-guarded subdivision. There is a security guard stationed right outside, and we’re no longer on a floor in a building, so no more stairs to contend with. I can ask the guard for help calling a cab in case of an emergency, even at night. But I still worry about being able to do more to secure my partner’s safety in an emergency. Perhaps I could take a safety training course so that I can properly attend to him should something happen. What do you know — my paranoia can push me to gain the skills I need for emergency response.

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