I slept much better last night. I don’t know if I was less stressed. My youngest son’s district officially announced closures until May and I’ll be really surprised if any of us go back this term. So, the stress level has not decreased. But, as always, acknowledging the reason for the stress deals with half of it.
It’s not the closures, per se, that are the problem. In fact, it’s not even the virus that has me stressed the way I am. It is the utter isolation. By the end of the weekend, I knew I was going to be in trouble. Isolation is really bad for you. And I have been isolated for most of my life. It is only the last few years that I have had the freedom to go where I want and do what I want and have friends of my own choosing, or friends at all. Having to go back into isolation is a nightmare.
But, that is to be expected. There was a study done on a group of Canadians who were isolated for SARS and around 30% of them had depression and 30% had PTSD as a result. Isolation is trauma, whether Americans want to admit it or not. And trauma is a nightmare.
At this point, it has only been a few days, so my stress is from the anticipation. I KNOW what is going to happen. I’ve lived this most of my life. And while I do not feel exceptionally close to any one of the people I usually see (as detailed in the fact that none of the people I usually see has emailed or texted me, though I know they have others) it is still a point of human contact that I made the decision to have. Now that small amount of autonomy that I have gained is gone. Taken by force, again.
And that is my stress.
It will eventually be a lot of people’s stress.
Other people will have the stress of not being able to isolate. It sounds weird when said like that but consider the psychological trauma caused to people who, with no training (not doctors and medical workers) are forced each day to go to work. Costco employees. Target employees. Add to that how little they make. Add to that the fact that some of them do not have good insurance. Add to that the fact that was finally revealed yesterday that, oops, we reporters were wrong, it really is affecting young people at nearly the rate as old. They just aren’t dying as quickly.
As I am wont, I am reading. Yesterday I started Self-Therapy, which is a book on how to use Internal Family Systems Therapy. I learned about the method from the book The Body Keeps the Score. I recommend reading that one first. In fact, I recommend everyone read that one now. Because we are facing the sort of constant stress that traumatizes the mind. And, in most countries, there will be no help to deal with it.
In The Body Keeps the Score, I learned that one of the most important things to do is to acknowledge what is causing the stress and to admit that my reaction is normal. It is normal to be stressed about being isolated, especially since I was previously forced into it due to my abusive marriage.
This is going to be bad, people. Bad on a scale I don’t think most of us can, or are willing to, comprehend. And that’s not even what the virus can do to our bodies.
Acknowledge the stress. Acknowledge that your feelings about it are normal and are OK. Take deep breaths (the closest thing to meditation I can handle). Cry. Take your anger out in writing, not on those around you. These are all things I’ve learned from studying about trauma.
Knowledge is power. This extends to knowing ourselves as well.