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Coping with COVID Anxiety

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

You raise up your head And you ask, “Is this where it is?” And somebody points to you and says “It’s his” And you say, “What’s mine?” And somebody else says, “Well what is?” And you say, “Oh my God Am I here all alone?” Because something is happening here But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?

Ballad of a Thin Man

Bob Dylan

We are all Mr Jones. Something is happening and we don’t know what it is. As with Mr. Jones, we really DO know what is – we just don’t want to.

That’s COVID anxiety. We don’t really know what is “happening” with COVID, or why, or how it will affect us in the future --- or even if we have a future at all. And suddenly, we find ourselves all alone, cut off from “normal” social routines and interactions, the human contacts we used to have in classrooms and workplaces and entertainment venues.

We ask “what’s mine?”. And the answer is “nothing”.

We are powerless. Or so it seems.

Studies show that over 40% of young women and a slight lower percentage of young men suffer from anxiety and depression over “the New Normal”, which is, in fact, not really new but a regression to the situation that “civilization” has faced for centuries, endemic diseases that shorten lifespan. Add to that:L Climate Change. Heat waves cannot be ignored. Climate-induced flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes, mudslides and the inevitable rise of the oceans augur a massive die-out. Still we try to deny things.

Something is happening.

But you don’t want to know what it is, do you?

Generation Z, like the Millennials was brought up protected and dependent – told by the media not to worry because someone would look after them, that something belonged to them.

And you say, “What’s mine?” And somebody else says, “Well what is?”

Sorry, nothing is yours, Gen Z. Not even your life. You face a very, very uncertain and likely short future. More diseases, more pain, early death. Fertility and marriage rates are dropping. Why would any sensible person want to get married and have a family now?

Sounds bad?

But in the bad, there is Good. When Denial is no longer an option, we must take our power back, focusing on what has always mattered since modern human beings evolved 35000 years ago. Look around you. Who are the 5 people you trust most? Who are the 5 people with whom you are least alone, with who you are share. They may be family -- or maybe not. "Family" is not about bloodlines or marriage certificates--it is about caring, sharing, and communication.

Each of these 5 have 5 people too. But these groups of five are not closed . The circle of intimacy extends to other groups of five, three and then seven, empowered by interaction. , This is your band, in pretribal terms. You all share overlapping needs and concerns. You are all different, And those differences give you power—force multipliers.

Neoliberal governments listen to public opinion but they rarely represent it. But you can effect change at the local level.

Human beings and rats have something in common. We have empathy and altruism for those closest to us, those with whom we share emotionally. Rats, as we know are survivors. Human beings are too. But we need to pay attention to the basics. We hae to know what matters.

Don’t pop a pill for depression. There is no proven chemical basis for depression; nor really for anxiety. And SSRIs won’t help you. These ‘disorders” occur when you, like Mr. Jones, deny what is happening.

Do what rats do. Care and share. Don't deny.

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