A Therapist’s Updated Emotional Response to a Global Pandemic

Originally published on Medium

Summer 2023

Just over three years after the declaration of a global pandemic (March 2020), and after my original article, “A Therapist’s Emotional Response to a Global Pandemic,” was published in Spring 2020 on Medium, I am writing this updated essay, as the global COVID-19 public health emergency has concluded. (May/June 2023).

As a therapist, I’ve witnessed my clients’ emotional responses and the emotional toll the pandemic took on them, their relationships with loved ones, their families and children, and their careers. Every aspect of life has been impacted by this pandemic. No one was not affected in some way or another.

Interestingly, I’ve been living on a parallel path with my clients through this traumatic experience. I have been deep in the trenches with my clients; I know their struggles and it’s not lost on me that my clients’ lives impact my life, and visa-versa. We have been all in this together, even though our experience of the pandemic may have varied. We were all in the same storm, yet our resources may have differed.

Yet for all of us, we experienced a trauma that was not a single-moment in time; instead, it was a prolonged, repeated experience of the pandemic for three years that has changed us, and it will continue to change the landscape of our lives for some time to come. We are all interconnected and intricately woven through the web of our common humanity. And so, we all impact each other, and our lives will continue to shift and change as we are called to adapt and adjust.

This time period was life-changing for all of us, and many people have lingering effects. The long-term impact of physically isolating and socially distancing from each other, in the face of widespread illness and death, had many clients feeling scared, fearful, anxious, worried, angry, outraged, heartbroken, depressed, hopeless, helpless, and in grief. This may be especially true for people who lost a loved one from COVID.

For some people, these past few years were the darkest, loneliest period in their lives. I had those moments, too. Connection was, and still is, so needed for healing. As humans, we are social-beings that need community support, compassion, and empathy. We need to encourage each other to make it through this new way of living and being, and move forward with our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live my life in despair or have my clients spiral downwards into that place, either. My clients offered many uplifting, inspiring stories through the last few years, despite immense grief and loss. We all learned lessons about hope and resilience. My hope is that we can all heal from the trauma and isolation, remembering some of this time fondly, and come out of the pandemic with more kindness for each other and gratitude in our lives. I believe the ripple effect of compassion and love can and will change our world for the better. Like a lotus rising through the mud and the muck, we will grow, expand, and open towards the light of our new future.

If you need support, please contact me via www.joannabarrett.com.

July 13, 2023

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