As I began to recognize my personal responses to the unfolding realities over the last two weeks, I recognized that my reactions were often disproportionate to the reality, that I had lost a sense of stability and grounding, and had unusual emotion-led reactions to various events. I recognized symptoms that sometimes accompany experiences of trauma. I then wondered, as I tried to give space for my own healthy functioning in the midst of this upended world where everyone was trying to make meaning of new realities – whether we could learn anything from mapping this onto patterns of trauma and resiliency.
A few things quickly came to mind:
- We are all processing our daily reality DIFFERENTLY, due to a myriad of factors. By using the lenses of trauma and resiliency, we recognize that we all respond to trauma in divergent ways with vastly different timelines. We have to give space for everyone to grieve, mourn, and eventually make meaning – in their own time and in their own way. Practically, that means radically different responses from “Hey let’s learn a new hobby while quarantined!” to uncontrollable crying with feelings of utter loss of control to hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
- Layers of privilege map directly on to our experiences and responses to the changes we personally face. A COVID19 experience can vary vastly from the changes of working at home, being infected at a life-threatening level, losing the ability to feed your family or have access to soap to stay clean, to feeling trapped in a violent home, among many realities. All of our other social ills, disparities, injustices, systemic traumas and oppressions continue during the pandemic.
- In time, we can learn lessons from this. When we’re open, we will see that we are in fact interdependent on each other – no matter our wealth, status, identity, or geography. We may recognize that many of our society’s structures are not adequately set up to benefit everyone, and that this (not having an equitable society) is a fundamental loss for all of us. At a personal level, we may recognize ways that we can interact more humanely with ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and communities. But as we begin to identify and articulate these lessons, we might also need to let ourselves and others have space to flee, freeze, or fight first. To mourn, grieve, and acknowledge. To let the cloud be a cloud before we find its silver lining. To be human with ourselves and each other, so that we can all get through this together.
Below is my one hour (very basic) effort to articulate these ideas – seeing COVID19 through my understandings of trauma and resiliency. My articulation is heavily inspired and adapted from the “Snail Model” from the STAR program [https://emu.edu/cjp/star/], and from a graphic I saw The Depression Project [https://www.thedepressionproject.com/] develop a few days ago. I welcome collaborations to further refine, adapt, and be in conversation with this articulation.