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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Randall

C*VID Fatigue & Protracted Trauma

C*VID Fatigue is a phenomenon that's happening because we have been immersed in a traumatic event, with multiple losses, for well over 365 days now. With a 'normal' trauma, and normal grief, we experience the event, the event ends, and we begin the grieving process as our brains and hearts begin to calculate the magnitude of our loss and recalibrate accordingly; to now adjust without what we once had.

C*VID is not like that. We experienced the event...and the event has not ended. Nor can the losses be tallied for they not only continue, but are inconsistent -- we gain some things back only to lose them again. Therefore, our brains are left not knowing what to adjust to.

This, whether we like it or not, OR want to admit it or not, is tantamount to torture. No I am not being melodramatic. One of the many elements of psychological torture is to create an unending sense of uncertainty, so that the victim never really knows where they stand. Imbedded in this uncertainty is a sense of hopelessness - because no matter how much time passes, no matter how many rules are followed, nothing is different in any meaningful way. It begins to feel like nothing will ever, truly, change or return to status quo. The 'New Normal' appears, to these brains, to be here to stay ... and it is horrifying.

It is also an exceedingly cruel way of treating people.

How does it tether into the notion of being fatigued, though?

Well, every single individual has a finite amount of emotional energy. Finite. And when we use up all that energy, the only way we get it back is by resting and/or engaging in life-giving activities (connecting with others, connecting with spirituality, being creative, or moving our bodies).

Ah....and there's the rub. Many of the very things we don't just need, but require, to replenish our supply of emotional energy are currently prohibited. This is especially true for our extroverted population. As for our introverts, these folks have a limited supply of ability to process and maintain external stimuli as it is. They are internally governed, internally entertained creatures. So when the amount of external stimuli floods their system with too much, for too long, they get drained.

Now let us pair all of the above with any one individual's social life. During any normal time in the world, most people are adjusted to whatever social life they've curated. The extroverts enjoy their robust calendars. The introverts manage their more judicious engagements. Either way, the majority of people, at any NORMAL TIME are able to keep up with the pace of socializing they enjoy.

But now is NOT a normal time, and whether someone is extraverted or introverted (or something in between), heads and hearts are pre-occupied (even on a subconscious level) with all of what's going on (*Particularly introverts because we are deep, deep feelers, and deep, deep analyzers). The losses, the changes, the never-ending state of stasis we are in have taken a toll, therefore - even though we are currently grieving the loss of people we cannot see due to restrictions - the thought of going out and connecting simultaneously feels like trying to pay with an empty wallet. You are done. You are spent. You are deeply fatigued.

The price the P*ndem*c has exacted has used up your emotional energy.

In addition, C*VID Fatigue also alters our capacity to roll with punches we normally would have been able to emotionally manage. Why?

Well, the "load-bearing walls" of our brains can only withstand so much weight, and when they've become - for this protracted time - burdened with the heaviness of the P*ndem*c, the other, rudimentary 'heavy' things (life's normal or typical challenges, setbacks, or losses) suddenly feel too sad, too anxious, or too angering for us to adequately manage with any measure of dexterity.

As such, we fall apart. We're too tired, too spent, too scared, sad, or mad (or maybe all three) to cope in any healthy way any longer.

It is normal to feel this way - and not the 'New Normal', which has become a barbed phrase with far too much poison in its sting. Instead by 'normal' I mean expected; all of us only have so much 'Emotional Energy' available at any given time - and the magnitude of tragedy around us has, without question, taken a bite out of what we have available. Think of it as an analogy like this: the greater the service, the higher the tax. Or...the bigger (or longer) the trauma, the more energy it will take, and - like a bank account - we all have a finite amount of currency at our disposal.

Therefore, if you have run out, I implore you: reach out. Seek support. Speak your truth. Your feelings are valid, they matter, and you - YOU - are so very, very important. You're not alone, and by that I refuse to say 'we are all in this together', for this too is a barbed, tone-deaf platitude. We are all facing an unprecedented circumstance simultaneously (that's more accurate)- and we all only have varying (and decreasing) amounts of emotional energy left at our disposal.

Please don't stay silent if C*VID Fatigue has garnished the last of yours. We are not all in this together, but none of us are alone.

Peace to you.

- bonnie

Bonnie Randall is a clinical social worker with close to 30 years of experience on the front line as a counsellor and educator in the field of emotional wellness. A professional writer, Bonnie is also the author of three currently available fictional titles - Divinity & The Python, Within The Summit's Shadow, and the novella No Vacancy.

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