Current Symptoms of COVID-19: the emotional long-haul
We have been inundated for over a year now with information and disinformation about COVID-19, and with it has come a whole new variety of side effects, not from the virus, but from the information and fear.
The side effects people are dealing with currently are similar to those in the World War II era. Fear, isolation, and distrust are breading a whole nation of paranoid desperate people. Some are adjusting to the new normal, but many are growing increasingly more fearful every day.
By having access to 24-hour, 7 day a week, news and information, through not only radio and television, but on your phone and wrist watch, you are over stimulated. The body remains on high alert, waiting for the next beep, hum or chime to alert you that new information is available.
I am encountering a greater number of people who are having trouble sleeping, have increased anxiety and stress, and are suffering from a variety of psycho-somatic issues.
Some people have even become afraid of those around them.
This conditioning has been seen and used in POW camps as well as troop preparation. A unit of men can be brought together or torn apart by being immersed in knowledge.
In Rape of the Mind, by Joost A.M. Meerloo M.D. he talks about his personal experiences as a doctor during the second world war, as he encountered and evaded the enemy. More importantly, he describes the many ways the body copes with constant stress of a situation in which one has no control.
Meerloo says that in Holland after a few bombardments, an epidemic of bladder disease broke out. People suddenly had the need to urinate, so often that it disrupted their sleeping. Doctors treated the body, but psychiatrists saw the bladder epidemic as a regression back to childhood; when a child has the reaction of urinating to express emotions such as fear and nervousness. It was simply the way the whole town was coping with the uncertainty, fear and vulnerability they all felt but could not express due to shame, loss, fear, and shock.
Some people will develop; ulcers, heart palpitations, or upset stomachs, under extremely upsetting circumstances, in which the emotions are suppressed.
Meerloo goes on to talk about the treatment of panicky soldiers during the war. These men (boys) had been conditioned during basic training, but when faced with real danger and the very situations they had received training to handle, they would break down and regress. Many had chronic intestinal issues, others sudden bouts of vomiting and some soiled themselves.
It was only after these soldiers were told as a group, that everyone of them was having a normal reaction to the circumstances, and that their bodies were responding to the potential dangers, that the health of the men improved. By removing the shame, and admitting it was a healthy normal response to such conditions experienced by all, the men regained their ability to carry out the missions assigned to them without much disruption.
These men needed to know why they were reduced to such childish states. Once they understood that it was a universal reaction to fear, the stigma was removed, and each person now knew they did not need to be ashamed of their own fears.
Meerloo also says that during the war time, after a town had been bombed or raided, the older teens and young adults were commonly found playing with dolls and children’s toys, while using the language of the age to which they had regressed.
So, how does this tie into COVID?
If it is not obvious, I will explain. You see, forced masking, social distancing, confinement in one’s dwelling, etc, etc, are all very unnatural things for us to deal with. Most of us have no memory of war or the situations described my Meerloo. Our freedoms were suddenly taken away, and as a nation we were plunged into a world of fear, disease, death and information. This in turn caused mass panic, hording, and fear. In this case the enemy is invisible.
When our normal routines are disrupted for a few hours or days, we tend to deal with the situation just fine. Like having a cold, healing a broken bone or recovering from something, but commonly during this down time we are focused on getting back to “normal” getting back to “routine”. When the hope of normal and routine are removed and replaced with fear, distrust, separation and overwhelming information, we begin to respond psychosomatically.
Most people begin to notice a change in their sleeping patterns, digestion and elimination. Some people will become lethargic and passive, regressing back to a time when they had no control and great insecurity. Add in isolation and separation from contact with human beings, and you have cities full of adult children who have lost control.
If you keep these people in fear and isolation long enough, they breakdown even further, and then you have created a dependency on the information bombardment, as they begin to search for hope of normal and routine. These people now cannot sleep or eat because they are on high alert, waiting for hope.
Worse yet, anything which resembles hope, even misinformation is believed as truth. This is why people bought up toilet paper and bleach, fighting over it in the stores. They acted out of fear, but decided that if they had enough of these items, things would get back to normal faster. Instead, this mass mentality created voids in the systems, which has prolonged the “normal” which they are seeking.
Another example Meerloo gives is when he and a colleague were playing tennis is a town which was under allied control. Two Nazi officers joined them on the court. Both sets of men were afraid of each other. But when a allied plane few over, the two Nazi men ran and dove for cover. It was only when Meerloo was in Berlin, that he understood how those two Nazi officers felt that day. Every plane and shot seemed to have his name on it. He was in a constant state of fear.
There have been positive changes amidst the chaos! Many people are adjusting to their new lives. Learning to balance working from home, being with their family units for 24-hour periods and eating meals together. They are responding positively to the prolonged conditioning of fear and stress. Yet, among these seemingly good changes, people are suffering in silence. They body still knows and they have little explanation that others are feeling the same way too.
We are all experiencing COVID-19 together, as a natural response to a global issue, not unlike those in the accounts about World War II by Meerloo.
What can you do?
Hypnosis is a wonderful tool to combat these secondary issues of COVID.
First, look in the mirror and notice that you are human. You have a body, arms, legs, head, eyes, etc. And being human, means that you are made much the same way as everyone else in this world. You have a hardwired response system which is designed to keep you safe and help you cope with life.
Second, acknowledge that it is okay to feel. It is okay to be; afraid, worried, anxious, and have mixed emotions. Also know that your neighbors next door feels the same way, and millions of people across the world are feeling these same mixed emotions as well.
Third, focus on the good. Find anything positive and focus on that. Being home has given you time to clean a closet and find that thing you lost, or you can spend more time with your pet, you can get reacquainted with your spouse and children.
Fourth, find what you can control. Decide to get up at a certain time, go for a walk outdoors, learn Yoga or Qigong. Find something you can control; this will help give you some purpose and normalcy back.
Fifth, accept that the old way of life is over. Much like the cycle of grief, there comes a times when we accept that we cannot go back to the way it was. Embracing the new, does not mean forgetting the past, it means that the things you took for granted are now different and you will always have memories of the past.
Now, you have a greater resilience and understanding. Celebrate the new you! Change no matter how big or small creates resilience and greater understanding. With these new tools, you are better equipped for future circumstances as they arise.
I want to leave you with this thought: no matter what COVID side affects you are dealing with, there is help and hope. If you are struggling, reach out for help. There are a wide variety of resources available to help you recover mentally, physically and spiritually.
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Jessica L Hanson CHt. LLC