Some Thoughts in a Pandemic Time
Gerald J. Gargiulo, Ph.D.
This pandemic has brought many feelings to the fore that we have to integrate as we live out our social distancing. Among these, anxiety and frustration are certainly near the top. What many of my colleagues, in their work with patients, are being asked to respond to is a sense of bewilderment, with an obvious underlayer of depression, mixed with hope and grief. Many of these feelings are cascading through our daily lives in quick succession.
Notwithstanding that many will turn to God for a sense of solace and hope, I think it is helpful, for personal and psychological equanimity, to realize that all such feelings are normal and appropriate. In fact, they can be helpful as long as we are able to use them as signposts for what is actually going on in this pandemic. They can be unproductive when we collapse them into an exclusive personal experience – for lack of a better way of saying this. Given the complexity of what we are all undergoing, anxiety and depression, grief and loss are expectable reactions. As long as they are functioning as indicators to a reality going on outside ourselves. If not, they are too debilitating to experience within ourselves – they have to be a bridge to others rather than an avenue to withdraw from others.
If we are not experiencing ourselves alone in community we are in danger of losing our anchor. If we are alone in community then the injunction to reach out to others via phone, text or video, with a desire to contact, is the best guarantee that what we are feeling can be productive rather than destructive.
We have all fallen among robbers and are bleeding by the wayside – what else is a pandemic. We are all good Samaritans when we use our feelings as a spur to reach out to others.