collective trauma.

TraumaSource: Lightspring (Shutterstock)

“The United States is about to endure a collective trauma unlike anything in recent memory.” David Scharfenberg

I am no stranger to trauma. Right now though, I feel like the least capable person when it comes to managing the experience of trauma. My city, my state, my country, my world is experiencing a collective trauma and…

I.     CANNOT.     HANDLE.     IT.

Meanwhile, friends on social media are posting about virtual dates, virtual game nights, and even virtual dance parties. Colleagues are continuing on with their work as if it is completely normal to adjust to virtual meetings and uninterrupted workflows. In many ways, people I know seem to feel more connected to one another now than ever before. Life is continuing, like it always has, just virtually.

On the other hand, in 3 short months there have been over 1 million cases of coronavirus across the globe and the number of deaths continues to increase at a staggering rate. People are dying in my country, in my state, and in my town. Every day, at exactly the same time, I check the newest stats. How many people in my state have died because of coronavirus in the last 24 hours? How many people have succumbed to COVID-19 as I live my life, uninterrupted? Sometimes the number of new deaths holds steady for a few days. Sometimes it triples.

Trauma.

Collective. Trauma.

As an individual, when I encounter trauma, I have learned that the best way for me to deal with it is by secluding myself — I avoid others, or at least meaningful interactions, at all costs. As hard as my trauma is for me to deal with, it’s even harder for others. Last time I was in “recovery” stage, I developed mild agoraphobia for the first time.

Agoraphobia, as mild as it might be, is back. I have near panic attacks when I go outside, even if it’s just to retrieve groceries that have been safely delivered. What is wrong with me? I have not showered for days — everything seems futile. Completely pointless. How do I deal with collective trauma when it’s already so hard to deal with my own trauma?

People around the world are dying. But me, I have so much privilege right now. I have an income. I have a place to live. I have food. I don’t know a single person that is infected with coronavirus. Yet, the truth of this new reality is haunting. By the time coronavirus has traversed the globe, there will not be a single person on this planet that has not been touched by death due to coronavirus. The post-coronavirus world will be unlike anything we can possibly imagine.

Collective Trauma.

It might be the only phrase that is adequately able to describe what humanity is about to endure. Yet, it feels completely inadequate.

Death.

Death will touch EVERY. SINGLE. corner of our planet. There is not a single person that will escape this pandemic unscathed. What will our lives look like next month? Next year? The year after? There is no way to know. That’s the thing about trauma — there’s nothing logical about the recovery.

This blog post was contributed anonymously. Please be respectful of the views and beliefs of others if they are different than your own. This is part of a series attempting to share the many different stories of individuals as they experience the coronavirus pandemic. If you or someone you know have a story you would like to share (anonymously or not), please feel free to send me a message or comment here.

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