Two years with COVID and weeks into a war with atrocities that can never be fully imagined, described, or even believed that the human race can do this to one another. Physical horrors of COVID have certainly lessened; scientists have worked quickly to ramp up vaccine production and treatments so that COVID can be endemic without overwhelming our medical care system and resulting in substandard care and avoidable deaths from the disease itself and from other diseases, accidents, traumas that could not be handled because of the overflow of patients and the insufficient number of healthcare workers given the rapid influx of patient demands, burnout, their own illness.,
We are now left with an endemic of COVID and a massive pandemic of mental health problems, social/emotional difficulties, learning difficulties, maladaptive behaviors, severe adjustment disorders and families that have been broken apart by the grief from COVID, the economic stress, and the chronic stress of two years that continues to wreak havoc on an individuals nervous system and stress-response pathways. We are finding that the real victims of this pandemic are our youth; those individuals who really had no choice, no space, no supports in person, and who had trauma during this isolating time. The youth who witnessed increased domestic violence, endured increased amounts of physical and sexual abuse, may have been neglected, and may have watched loved ones pass away, suffer, relapse into addictions, the list goes on. The youth that had no voice during isolation, no phone to call someone who would come over and save them. The youth that learned that they were not being heard and that would then become desensitized to trauma, numb to their environment in order to survive. These children of all ages are now back in the world. Now that they do not have to be in survival mode, they are less numb, and underneath the numbness is hurt, anger, shame, insecurity, and loneliness. Children who do not have the supports in place and do not have a safe space where they are heard and they feel that if someone is hurting them, they have the voice to speak up and make it stop, these children take all of those hard/strong feelings and direct them to themselves, out to others, or cut themselves off from the rest of the world. All of these are maladaptive and they all are dangerous to the child and those around them.
THIS PANDEMIC is not cured by vaccines, pills, short hospitalizations. THIS PANDEMIC needs a community to back and support these children and resources to empower the children to regain their voice and their control that they have a right to not be hurt, to not go hungry, and to learn and to interact with others in a safe space. THIS is going to take a long time and is going to require patience and a redirecting of educational resources and curriculum to relearning life skills, emotional regulation, and social/emotional skills. Only when our students and our youth are able to be in tune with their emotions, trust that they can safely express themselves, feel safe in a space, regain confidence and feel that they are loved and valued by others, will they be able to learn.
Our educators and healthcare workers also need support and strength in order to not give up during this pandemic. They also need a voice and need to be heard. We are all going to continue to be challenged, and we need the coping skills and the ability, physical flexibility and mental flexibility to continue to move forward, support each other, find compassion for ourselves, and make wise decisions. Loving-kindness starts with ourselves and then can extend outwards. Without an internal, basic, foundation of empowerment and compassion and love, nothing can grow or emanate outwards and the community will never be able to reconnect, intertwine with one another, and support one another. Liken each resource to a wire in a closed circuit. When we are all connected in a positive way, the community lights up.