Written by Kristin Greco, MSW & Edited by Madia Javid-Yazdi, M.Ed.
We continue to push through this global pandemic; an invisible enemy that is wreaking havoc on our physical and mental health, and intensifying the uncertainty and fear of what could lie ahead.
Independent from its apparent physical health impact, economic devastation, and the fatalities COVID-19 has caused, this pandemic has also perpetuated hidden battles.
I have heard our current reality referenced as our “new normal,” alluding to acceptance and complacency, which we have reluctantly adjusted to. This acceptance and complacency is not adaptive as it can create destructive vulnerabilities, increasing the likelihood of experiencing invisible battles such as:
This abnormal reality has quietly created confusion, cognitive distortions, and overall psychological dysfunction. We are living abnormally, impermanently, and we might have forgotten that we are unconsciously accepting this life circumstance as normal. Most of us, more than ever, are uncertain, fearful, angry, anxious, grief stricken, lonely — and unconsciously vulnerable. The imperative shifts we have had to make in our daily lives to limit risk have become routine, contradicting the kind of healthy social interaction and connection we require as humans. That is not normal.
Experiences such as observing the whole world masked in public, socially/physically distancing (a new and foreign phrase in our vocabulary), isolating from those we love, and observing social interaction on television which we once took for granted, can cause post traumatic symptoms. Contrary to a common belief, it is not necessary to suffer one isolated tragedy or incident to experience post traumatic symptoms. Post trauma symptoms can begin in the most subtle and gradual ways, unnoticeable for a long period of time. Cumulative uncertainty and intolerance; the very reality we are faced with today can cause post traumatic symptoms.
These invisible battles have rendered us more vulnerable (whether we like to believe this or not). For self-preservation and to decrease the likelihood of post traumatic symptoms we must practice tolerance as well as resistance toward complacency at this time. Here are some strategies:
Consider that this is a time when we all need support of some kind and will require tolerance from others. We will all struggle (some of us more than others) and may find ourselves experiencing some of the few battles mentioned as consequence to our current reality.
*From a psychological perspective, it can be enticing and is not uncommon (when vulnerable) to believe and perpetuate conspiracy theories. It is an attempt to regain control, to search for answers or rationale, and/or to hold a certain source responsible for the suffering and chaos that has left us fearful, angry, or anxious. Conspiracy theories are perceptions that are not logical, rational, and are not unique concepts of “thinking outside the box.”