Updated: Jun 7, 2020
We never saw this coming. We never imagined being worried for our safety at work. We never imagined some employers not being 100% concerned whether employees got sick or not. We never thought some of our loved ones could pick up a germ at the grocery store that made them so sick they never recovered. We never imagined in our wildest dreams that we would not be permitted to say goodbye or hold a service for them. We never thought our questions would have no answers. Yet, when the Covid-19 virus entered the human population, that is exactly what happened.
That is not to say we are all experiencing this global pandemic in the same way but we are all experiencing it. And even the most prepared of us could not have readied themselves for this. Afterall, even the most conscientious person cannot plan for having the rug pulled out from under them. We are all being asked to adjust in ways we never saw coming. And, even in the myriad of ways we are experiencing this pandemic, we are all still being asked to flex. It’s all new.
The word new used to bring to mind good things – a new spouse, a new job, a new book – but in the case of this virus the word new doesn’t bring to mind good associations. New work protocols, new social courtesies, new worries, and new fears are bending our ties to this word.
And for our beloved front line workers, their experiences of the word new can run anywhere from stressful to earth shattering.
It brings to mind our warehouse workers. The grocery store workers. The farm workers. The delivery truck drivers. The health care workers. The police officers and firefighters. These aren’t the jobs they set out to do in the way they set out to do them. Some are having to choose between paying rent and keeping the health insurance that would cover a sickness and going to work to face potentially getting that sickness.
As we move through this time and come out on the other side, we are likely to find many of those that carried us through will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Statistics show PTSD will develop in about 1 in 3 people who experience severe trauma.
According to NHS.UK website, the types of events that can lead to PTSD include:
physical or sexual assault
abuse, including childhood or domestic abuse
exposure to traumatic events at work, including remote exposure
serious health problems, such as being admitted to intensive care
childbirth experiences, such as losing a baby
war and conflict
On the flip side of our frontline workers is the trauma patients suffer as listed on number 5 of the list – those who contracted the coronavirus and were admitted to the hospital. Their trauma could include choking on ventilators, being isolated from family during one of scariest periods of their lives, and spending a certain amount of time wondering how many days they might have left.
A portion of the PTSD symptoms page of the NHS.UK website is copied below to show just how disruptive and unsettling the suffering can be.
“In most cases, the symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event.
But in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.
Some people with PTSD experience long periods when their symptoms are less noticeable, followed by periods where they get worse. Other people have constant severe symptoms.
The specific symptoms of PTSD can vary widely between individuals, but generally fall into the categories described below.
Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD.
This is when a person involuntarily and vividly relives the traumatic event in the form of:
repetitive and distressing images or sensations
physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling
Some people have constant negative thoughts about their experience, repeatedly asking themselves questions that prevent them coming to terms with the event.
For example, they may wonder why the event happened to them and if they could have done anything to stop it, which can lead to feelings of guilt or shame.
Avoidance and emotional numbing
Trying to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event is another key symptom of PTSD.
This usually means avoiding certain people or places that remind you of the trauma, or avoiding talking to anyone about your experience.
Many people with PTSD try to push memories of the event out of their mind, often distracting themselves with work or hobbies.
Some people attempt to deal with their feelings by trying not to feel anything at all. This is known as emotional numbing.
This can lead to the person becoming isolated and withdrawn, and they may also give up pursuing activities they used to enjoy.
Hyperarousal (feeling ‘on edge’)
Someone with PTSD may be very anxious and find it difficult to relax. They may be constantly aware of threats and easily startled.
This state of mind is known as hyperarousal.
Hyperarousal often leads to:
sleeping problems (insomnia)
Many people with PTSD also have a number of other problems, including:
PTSD sometimes leads to work-related problems and the breakdown of relationships.”
“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
There has been enormous amounts of suffering and now there needs to be massive healing. Porter Ranch wants to be a part of that.
We want all of our essential workers to have an outlet. A hand reaching back when you reach out. And we don’t believe payment should be a factor in being able to get support when you need it so we have created a free Coffee Talk Series for all of our front line heroes. This isn’t exactly teletherapy but we will create an inclusive space where we can all talk with the aim to diminish negative affects this period has had on us all.
Please RSVP with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a Zoom link to the event.
We appreciate you and look forward to talking with you!