I am writing this post knowing full well Covid is not over. However, it does sometimes appear like we are in a bizarro world where not only is it over but we are acting like it never even happened. This attitude minimizes the trauma most people experienced in the last two years.
Many kids had losses from missing in-person school. Many people lost loved ones. Others were ill and are living with the fallout from that. Everyone is living with the effects of having a life-threatening illness hangover their families’ heads for over a year and the loss of not being able to be connected with loved ones in the usual manner.
In a country that already had a pretty severe mental health crisis, it got worse during the last two years. And while it got worse, there was even less access to care. Unless you could pay out of pocket, many people were out of luck finding a therapist with openings.
The other day, I found myself laughing, at a social media post I made in April 2020, about an interaction I had with a loved one about not touching a package without disinfecting it first. Thinking now how silly we were back then believing we had to Lysol everything or leave it in the yard for a week before it came into the house. At a time when we were not even consistently wearing masks. Laughter can be a way of coping with the trauma but it also can be a way of distancing from it or ignoring that it happened. For me, it feels like coping and distancing. This trauma has not just lifted because we can be out and about again.
We are all still adjusting to the changes in our lives such as where we work or if we had to reduce work hours to caretake for children or parents. Much of life is still online and will continue to be, for better or worse. We may have some family estrangements from how different members coped with the pandemic, whether they got vaccinated.
How do we move on? Especially since we aren’t clear on whether there could be another dangerous variant in the future. When we now know that everything can change in a matter of weeks.
Now we have to move forward the way we have since March 2020. Do the best that we can each day. Some people will bounce back faster than others. People have different levels of resiliency and experienced different levels of trauma. Some are still feeling cautious and overwhelmed. Some immunocompromised people don’t have an opportunity for a different life because they will continue to need to be careful in a world that wants to throw precautions in the trash. The rest of us just do it step by step. Maybe we learn to not freak out every time our nose is runny. Maybe, we start venturing back into environments where there are more people. Maybe, we liked being home all the time, and want to keep living that way. The most important thing is to try to listen to ourselves and try and follow our inner wisdom. A positive for many during the shutdown was the reduction of overscheduling. Can we keep that up or do we return to filling every minute of every day?
It all seems like so much. Because indeed, it is so much. Hopefully, as time goes on it will feel easier. Certainly, with the other crises in the world, it can feel indulgent to be stuck on the pandemic. But new crises do not resolve the past trauma and in fact, can make them feel even bigger. I encourage people to keep any good habits/routines they picked up during shut down. Like those walks. Or regular video chats with friends. Finally, just continue to allow yourself to have your good and bad days without overanalyzing either. It has been a tough long two years. We need time to process that.