When my mum was dying a few years ago, optimism was all I had. As Covid spreads, I need to feel everything is going to be OK again

Looking back on when my mum died several years ago, it would be easy for me to count every time I thought she might live as a moment of stupidity.

She had stage four lung cancer. Even with the best treatment in the world, her chances of getting through it were minuscule. But that didn’t stop me from crying tears of joy when, a few weeks after she started immunotherapy, I saw a scan showing that the tumour had shrunk. I tried to stop myself, but images of her – strong, and loud, and cackling her head off again – flooded my mind. Anxious people know what it is to be a slave to the eternal “what if?”, but what if the “what if” is about everything going right?

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