PTSD and A Fear of Normalcy

 One of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning is check my Timehop app (for those of you who don't know, it is an "on this day" type of app that will pull up all pictures and posts from this day as many years back as it can). While I have always found this particular routine soothing (thank you, OCD), it is raising a very specific issue for me that is becoming increasingly hard to ignore.

I am not ready for normalcy. 

Let me preface by saying that I miss the world where leaving my house wasn't scary. However, after the last two years, and what has become glaring PTSD issues, I would much prefer sitting comfortably in fear than trying to readjust to the new definitions of normal. I am not naive enough to believe that the world will go back to what it was before COVID-19 wreaked havoc, but I am also not ready to rely solely on the decisions of others. Every time I watch TV, my brain goes to how close people are, or the lack of masking, or how long it has been since I got my booster. People may argue that this is the media's fault, or the government, or whomever it is that they would like to blame. I don't fault people for this; the last two years (maybe longer?) have been quite the train-wreck, but there's more to it than just finding someone to blame...

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real, and it's paralyzing.

I am not talking just from an infection perspective. Sure, living through COVID was scary, but the idea of re-entering society after having to restructure our social skills to adapt to new health protocols, job changes, personal upheavals, etc, the idea of having to re-enter a society and being expected to resume "normal" functioning feels terrifying and, frankly, unfair. Some of us (ok, maybe just me) are just not there yet. a lifted mandate doesn't erase the fear and pain from the last two years. Any and all coping skills developed throughout this time are sometimes not adaptable to the new world. 

This isn't going back to normal, there is no normal. What we are being asked to do (and rightfully so) is to yet again restructure our social engagement to fit into a new societal system, one that is now new and riddle with added fears and concerns. While I was once excited to plan international travel, the idea of traveling in the upcoming months is daunting. Sending my children to school feels scarier now than it did at the height of the pandemic, and while I know part of this is me reflecting my own fears on them, the fact remains that the world was just becoming predictable again, and the lack of predictability and structure that comes with lifted mandates is not something I was prepared for. 

As far as my personal life goes, all I will say is that the thought of re-entering society after two years of massive life overhaul is keeping me up at night. So, if you are one of the people who has been on the receiving end of my anxiety-induced anger, or will be in the upcoming weeks, I apologize in advance. I would love to tell you that I will be more conscious and try to control myself, but that's not entirely true, since right now, I have very little control over my emotions. Also, if you ask me how I'm doing, and we are close enough, have a box of tissues ready.

I understand mask fatigue. I understand how important it is to let our children go to school maskless. I understand the importance of open tourism for the economy. I understand the importance of socialization for mental health. However, none of that is enough to lower my anxiety and keep me from breaking down after school drop off. And what is harder is having to witness the continued divide in society that has resulted from a lack of understanding of the PTSD that has resulted from the last two years, and the inability of people to understand and/or be supportive of the fact that some of us just aren't ready.

A little grace goes a long way, friends. Keep that in mind.


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