Post-pandemic and PTSD: the return to normal and those who'd rather not.

Photo by Samantha Gadeson Unsplash

As vaccine campaigns are on full throttle (more or less) and some countries have begun to loosen up restrictions, the idea of a return to "normal" is polarising people's emotional response on a much deeper level than most are willing and able to admit.

If on a hand the disruption caused by the 2020 pandemic triggered fears and anxieties most of us never imagined we'd find ourselves coping with, soon after, the cocoon effect kicked-in for many "lucky" ones. 

By saying "lucky", I mean all those who: are not frontline workers (I salute you), are not forced by circumstances to be exposed to the virus more than they'd be willing to, whoever is born and lives in a country not torn by civil war and poverty and in addition of a roof over their head, has access to basic utilities such as running water, electricity and an internet connection.

That said, as soon as we overcame the first shock of a dystopian movie-like reality forced upon us, many us were almost relieved by the possibility of being allowed to spend time at home without the pressure of modern day obligations.  There was a lingering sensation that the moral obligations to be a productive and performing member of society were temporarily being lifted and this gave us the opportunity to reset on many levels.

Right now, the thirst to go back to a social life is getting increasingly burning as we're approaching the end of the tunnel however, if it's true that many of us found a new dimension in this reset, the feeling of having outgrown the "old normal" makes this return feel more like an impending doom.

Source: Twitter

"We won't return to normality because normality was the problem" was the slogan sprayed out in red letters on non-descriprive a wall in a Tumblr-esque post which quickly became the anthem for those who experienced the first wave of quarantine as a personal rebirth. It was the testimony of an epiphany lived by many who felt they had finally had the chance to jump off the hamster wheel and had no intention to get back on. The original post was actually from the 2019 Hong-Kong protests. 

Living for over year with extremely high stress hormones triggered by a consistent sense of threat, had an impact and we rewired our brains to cope with a new reality. Just because we're getting vaccinated, all fears won't magically disappear and our own personal experience plays a big role on how our brain will elaborate the next steps. Going back to normal life is going to take a while in a similar way as recovering from a grief plays out.

Photo by John Aranoon Unsplash
People who've been lucky enough to work from home experience a different set of stress from essential and frontline workers. Those of us in privileged position have developed new routines which as it often happens, have helped us ease anxiety and the stress triggered by information overdose.

The transition back to normal will entail among other things both the stressful process of breaking our new found routines and coming to terms with what "the new old normal" will look like. 

Regardless on whether you're looking forward to go back to whatever type of social gathering was most up your alley or you'll gladly keep on lingering into the comfort of your home-cocoon, I believe we'll all have to expect new challenges from this re-transition, which have the potential to be both exciting and daunting.

Anyways, there will be a lot of debate on what we'll decide to keep and what to throw away from this whole experience that's been life-altering on so many different levels.

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