Elisa A. Escalante/ LMSW/ 4-24-2020
“Until you can appreciate other people’s opinions and perceptions, then you cannot say that you truly appreciate diversity in the human race.” -EaE
My formal education taught me to never use the term “crazy” as it is highly stigmatizing and does not represent an official diagnosis. I formally apologize, I just needed a catchy title. I have been avoiding writing on Covid-19, though I did start my blog in the midst of this pandemic/ national quarantine. I find myself, like many other times in my life, riding the waves and trying to keep the peace amongst the depressed, anxious and angry. I’ve been accused of being “too calm”, “not taking it seriously enough”, “too anxious”, “making myself sick” etc. I like everyone else, will be taking it day by day, week by week.
I am an essential employee, so I am tasked with the responsibility of continuing to deliver clinical care (via telehealth) to clients during this difficult time… in NYC of all places! Regardless of how close to home something hits or not, my empathy will always be there. I empathize toward those that have compromised immune systems and are quarantined until further notice. I empathize with those that are dying or have passed, with those that have lost a loved one. I empathize with the millions upon millions that have lost their jobs. I empathize with my fellow essential employees that are working harder than ever before with no extra pay or incentives. I empathize with the parents trying to balance everything in their life as well as their child’s education/ academic successes. I empathize for those that are in domestic violent relationships and struggling more than ever to survive.
Who am I ashamed of? Quite honestly anyone who is trying to exploit this opportunity for their own personal gain and taking advantage of the fear of other’s, you know who you are. I am also ashamed of anyone who has harmed another human being that did not deserve to be harmed, again you know who you are.
My clients and friends come to me with many questions, a common one being why is everyone acting so…… erratic? “So Crazy?” Why don’t people follow rules? Why are people so terrified? Why is this such a big deal? Why don’t people see this as a big deal?! So many different opinions, perspectives, ‘evidences’ being written and thrown out at lightning speed. In my thirty years I have never seen my nation so “silently crippled” by what they are seeing on their screens. I would put a virus in with the term of “invisible wounds” that we also use to refer to mental illnesses and chronic pain conditions. Unseen yet, it can most certainly do tremendous and chronic damage and perhaps even kill.
My impression so far, this isn’t too far off from what I’ve seen when working as a mental health technician in a war zone. What we are seeing is anger, frustration, depression and perhaps fear of the unknown as well as a known danger/ killer. We are seeing many people whose lives have changed at a rapid pace and have been forced to lose their support systems and coping mechanisms. Accompanied with millions and millions of people’s defense mechanisms coming out. (Please when you get the opportunity to, thank a war Veteran, you are all now one step closer to understanding a part of what we went through in a war zone. Except our cyber connections are not quite as smooth when we are in another country!)
Some Psychological Defense mechanism examples during Corona:
Denial: This isn’t happening, nothing has changed. Everything is the same, live your life as usual and pretend this doesn’t exist.
Deflection: But what about obesity, and the flu? And car accidents and all the other things that kill many people? This isn’t the only dangerous thing there is.
Projection: This person isn’t doing what they should be doing, they are going to kill us. What’s wrong with you? Wear your masks and do what you need to do, otherwise you will kill.
Humor: Whelp, if I die, I die! Everyone looks crazy and hilarious wearing their protective gear as if that is going to save them.
Anticipation: We will die, we most likely are going to die. We must do everything humanly possible to prevent death at all costs. This is going to happen so we must buy X,Y,Z and what if that happens too?! Let’s prep!
Fantasy: This is all in God’s plan, this was meant to happen and there are many good things coming out of it, mother nature has spoken. I hope the world keeps changing for the better.
Rationalization: Well, I am young, healthy, I’m taking precautions and doing my best, I will most likely live. My friend just got the virus and he lived through it; many people are surviving.
Sublimation: I’m going to take precaution and play the part and appear to be cautious, we really should follow the rules. Always listen to the professionals and stop questioning it with paranoia.
Regression: I will quarantine and play it safe; I will not do much except for what is necessary. I will abandon work, productivity, coping mechanisms and everything of joy for the sake of staying alive.
My follow up answer is NO. One defense mechanism isn’t necessarily better than another. These are strange times therefore our psychological defenses are at an all time high, and we use what we are often conditioned to use. We use things that have worked for us in the past. We use defenses that we were taught by parents, peers and so on. NO, you are not wrong for using any one of these. You are not wrong for your feelings. You are not actually “crazy” for having a normal reaction to an extremely hard situation. My only kind reminder is to be mindful of your defense’s and how they may impact others. Be mindful of your defenses and how they may impact yourself. Be mindful that through hard times, it is great to strive toward finding support and being a support for others. Be mindful that we need empathy now, more than ever.
Sometimes our defense mechanisms, perceptions, opinions etc. are not going to sit well with another person. Sometimes we must pick our battles, sometimes we must step away from the screens and search for joy again in a time that’s so hard. Do not expect that you can change someone’s hard wired psychological defense mechanism anymore than they can change yours. Everyone is coping in a different way regardless of whether it is “best for them in the long run”. Sometimes we try so hard to help or educate others that we hurt/ lose them in the process instead. Sometimes we fight so hard to “correct” everyone else’s actions that we lose a part of our sanity instead.
This is all that I will end up writing about this pandemic. For I am not a doctor, a viral expert, a politician, or a news reporter. I am a therapist. Take care everyone. And please check on me too! I have lost a client to this virus and fear losing another that is in the hospital as we speak.
4 thoughts on “‘Corona-Crazy’”
I’m sorry for loss. This blog gives us all a lot to reflect on
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Well written. Thank you for sharing.
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I found your blog through Reddit. Very insightful post that got me thinking
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I appreciate the feedback TY !