Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon, they affect individuals and our culture on multiple levels from interruption on an economic level to a cultural one.
No matter what level they affect, it all boils down to cultural chaos.
I’m all about creating a culture for connection. The coronavirus threatens to do the opposite–to isolate us more. Or create the fear we will be isolated or sick. Not only is this virus kicking up quite a bit of worry for those who suffer from anxiety, but more isolation also tends to trigger episodes for those struggling with PTSD and suicide.
Panic and stress are linked to pandemic outbreaks. We are not in that situation now and I’m not going to predict or deny that we will or won’t be. Because I honestly don’t know.
I do know we aren’t ready and we have little information on the illness other than it tends to be more deadly for populations over 60 and those with compromised immune systems. It’s not as bad as leprosy or the bubonic plague from a visual standpoint.
Hoarding is one of the behaviors this virus has triggered. Although officials and doctors claim that masks don’t help, prices rose on amazon as poachers tried to cash in on the panic. There is always money to be made when people are stressed out or at their lowest. Amazon squashed those sellers already.
I’ve not bought bathtubs full of hand sanitizer because my hands would end up with those annoying and painful skin cracks since the alcohol in them is so drying. If using that is a requirement, I’ll take my chances. Luckily for me, I wear gloves as long as it’s 56 degrees F or less because my hands are always cold. That’s not exactly equivalent to wearing surgical gloves but at least I won’t pick up much this time of year. Hey, I’m advocating the fist bump lately. And laughing as I do because I feel so hip.
I am not going to pre-worry an outbreak. Which doesn’t mean if I was at the World Health Organization I wouldn’t be preparing for the worst.
But every time one of these types of viruses or a threatening mosquito bite or bee sting threatens, our culture morphs into overdrive and the airwaves can’t crank out enough intel on every detail. It makes me wonder why on earth we invest so little in mental health despite an alarming rise in numbers of overdoses and suicide for decades. So little focus has been invested there despite a serious threat to life.
And while mental health issues are Not literally contagious, they have a deadly ripple effect. This virus threatens to trigger that kind of pandemic as well.