PTSD and COVID-19: A Silent Sickness
Opinion by Aaron Mitchell, MS, MHC
While the world may be saying, “We’re back to life as normal,” many of us are saying to ourselves, “Um, this doesn’t feel right.” We remember when things were “normal” and then COVID-19 hit. We remember what happened and we remember what we went through. We have a new level of caution. An uncle here on Molokai has expressed his concern about the traumatic impacts of COVID on this community.
Whenever we go through something big and it creates a lot of change in our life, there is the potential for trauma. In the case of COVID-19, that change was world-wide. This is not to suggest we all have PTSD but we all develop a level of caution. The potential for trauma can occur when we are mentally, emotionally and/or physically overwhelmed. Mentally, we don’t know what to do; emotionally, we become overwhelmed with panic, worry and anger; physically, we feel helpless to respond to the situation.
One, two or all three of these experiences have the potential to lead to traumatic-like symptoms and responses to life. Folks with PTSD are constantly working through issues like these. We become more apprehensive of what the future holds. Every time we feel mentally hopeless in a situation, we back up in life and become frozen and unsure of what our next step is. Every time we encounter those same emotions, we freeze with uncertainty. We have no sense of direction that we feel certain will be safe and provide the best approach.
The truth is, we all face uncertainty. This same uncle has said to me on more than one occasion to, “follow your heart.” Because of his background as a Vietnam veteran, I took his advice as more than just cliché. This is what has always guided him and served him well. If we are all faced with the mystery of what life holds for us, why not follow something we all can trust? Our heart has been the guide for us many times in the past and it has always brought us to the right place, at the right time, and doing the right thing.
Reconnect with some of those moments in your past where your heart has guided you. Bring your faith and spirituality to this if you like. However, simply remembering these moments reminds us of those memories; reconnecting us with our courage, confidence and kindness to make a step in the right direction.
If you feel your life has become stagnant and imprisoned with fear, try living from the heart. Follow your passions in life. What excites you? What moves you? Shake free of the shackles of fear and live from the heart.