Reintegration fears

The vaccine has been out now for a while, millions of people have been vaccinated (myself included) it’s now time to discuss materially reopening a reintegration back to the way things used to be. Yes, that means removing mask mandates, restrictions on gathering, penalties and the vast government dip into its citizen’s civil liberties.

As more and more vaccines happen it becomes harder and harder to make the argument for quarantine protocols. At some point we are all going to have to agree, regardless of where you fall on Covid, that it’s time to move back to a pre covid world. For those of us with anxiety? That’s another potentially crippling outcome. It’s not the fear of reintegration exclusively, its everything else that goes with it. I found a good article here that talks about some of these issues.

From the article: “Fear is normal. You and I are supposed to fear the virus because it’s dangerous. The difference, however, in terms of developing a psychopathological response is whether you end up behaving in … overly safe ways that lock you into the fear,” said Spada. “My expectation is we’re going to have … chunks of the population that are avoiding re-engagement and constantly worrying about the virus for months to come, whether they are vaccinated or not.”

This has the potential to be a serious issue not just for those who are in fear of reintegration but for everyone else who is striving to return to normalcy. There is no “new normal” only normal and the problem has always been what is normal for you might not be normal for me. I’m not proposing that anyone’s fears, or desire to get things back to normal are wrong. What I am saying is we potentially have a large chunk of the world population who will be living in fear for years to come.

Fear is devastating, regardless of the source.

Is it irrational? Not to them and that’s why we all have to do the best we can to make sure we create the safest environment possible. The quickest way to achieve this is getting the vaccination. I am no vaccine advocate I don’t believe personally that anyone should be forced to do anything. That said Covid has taken on a social and political life of its own and when you argue (whatever side you are on) over the solution it makes it extremely difficult to move forward.

There will always be people who chose to live in fear. There will always be people who have no choice but to live in fear because of their anxiety. There will always be people who will never accept government mandates. It’s never going to be perfect and there is always going to be risk. Covid has made many entities (media, pharmaceutical companies) way too much money to ever go away completely.

That said we can do our part one person at a time. If you can get vaccinated it, do it. If you can help someone get vaccinated do it. At some point in the future so many people will be vaccinated the fear should subside. Something else will present itself, it always does but for now, if you are still in fear you have my empathy. Many of us are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, things are getting better you have to prepare for the next phase, reintegration.

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Anxiety and Post Vaccination life

As individuals with Anxiety the Covid 19 pandemic has been horrific. It’s not just that there is one more thing to worry about, a virus that can kill, but it’s all the ancillary B.S. that came with it. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, social media fights, zealous government regulations, lack of government regulations on and on. No matter where you fall on the pandemic there was anxiety and stress everywhere you looked.

We now have vaccines, something that is way ahead of schedule. Most vaccines take years to get approval, like it or not we can thank Trump for getting it produced early even though the distribution was a mess. The point here is we have a solution to the problem. What now? What happens after you get the vaccine? Is it back to normal for you? Not by a long shot…. I found a good article here That discusses the issue of reentry, which is yet another pain point for those of us with Anxiety.

From the article: “The new guidance said fully vaccinated Americans can gather indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. It also states those people can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one household without masks, unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Those people do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, the CDC still urges social distancing and masks while in public or traveling.”

It’s a fairly short article with a news video report attached, it is from a local news station not a national one. The point they are making though is that despite the CDC guidelines above, everyone should still be careful. As individuals with anxiety we have to be diligent about our triggers. As an example I am not fearful of this virus as many others are but I am respectful. I wear a mask, I keep my distance, I wash my hands I am mindful of other people.

Anxiety is still spiking around the world.

There are many, millions who think this is all B.S. they do not believe the threat is real and they are vocal about it. Just as vocal as those who rail against those who don’t think masks are important. It’s just another flash point in the social war currently being waged in western society. We are all neatly placed into “us” or “them” and depending on where you go you’re either a villain or a hero.

Of course those of us with Anxiety? We are screwed either way because now as this clears up you will be exposed to more people and their cavalier attitudes for either side. I imagine for the next year you will still see people wearing masks even though many are vaccinated. Taking a shower at the gym? That will be interesting, how will that work? When will that be allowed? On and on.

If you suffer from anxiety be diligent. Stick to your routines and if possible get vaccinated ASAP. We are in the beginning phase of reopening and reentry. I know many places already have, but with a vaccination out there (3 to be exact) more and more places are going to open up and you might be triggered. The end of this is closer, and the isolation and fear are beginning to ebb. You are doing great, one day a time. Hang in there, things are getting better.

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Surviving 2020 & covid

Thinking outside of the box is okay, is speaking outside of the box okay too?

The western world has become more divisive. There are labels for everything and everyone now, many of us have been categorized into specific buckets because of one belief. As an example if you are pro-life Christian you will likely be labeled a conservative. Does one issue define you? Does one issue automatically place you into on camp exclusively and this label is to be yours for eternity?

I suppose this is an easy way to segregate people we don’t like. There are several blogs I read and the tone on many of them has shifted dramatically over the last few months. Essentially if you do not agree with the bloggers point of view on “X” issue you are an idiot, to be dismissed and in some cases mocked and ridiculed. At worse cancelled and harassed.

It’s disturbing for someone on the outside looking in, particularly as someone with anxiety. What happens if you don’t fall into “the box”? What if you agree and share views from all sorts of people? What if you are pro-choice but believe people should not be given public assistance unless they can demonstrate severe hardship or incapacity of some kind? The point is the boxes are getting larger and larger and division is rife.

Covid 19 is just the latest greatest example. Do you think things should be reopened? No? What do you think of people who have the opposite opinion you do? We now have huge social networks that offer affirmation on a whole sale scale. Places like Twitter and Fox News are echo chambers for similar points of views one can become emboldened to the point of empowering horrible behaviors. We’ve seen this play out before in history, this isn’t a new concept.

As someone who is an independent thinker (I know we all like to claim that) it’s a very hard thing to navigate. I become very disappointed when I see people I respect and like pontificate so strongly about their beliefs that literally anyone who disagrees is an “idiot”. Wait, last week were best friends though….

I find myself more and more withdrawn and disgusted by the whole affair and this summer once Covid clears up a bit in the U.S. we will have another great reason to attack others who don’t agree, the presidential election. I can only imagine what the narratives will be like when that is over regardless of who wins. I think for me the whole Covid situation has exposed rather clearly to me how weak minded many people are.

I don’t even think it’s their faults really, they are espousing tired talking points and memes they have heard over and over from others who might agree with them on issue “X” as an example. Progress stands still though, nothing really gets accomplished other than an ever expanding pool of resentment. Where do we go from here? How do we think outside of the box and at the same time avoid attack from those who do not want alternative points of view?

I wish I had some wonderful insight or historical context to provide to help. I don’t, I find it more and more prudent to say nothing and let those screaming in their echo chambers hear their own voices. I have one blog I frequent where the person was ranting on and on about “people on the other side of the argument” and all the replies, dozens of them were in lock step agreement.

What was the point? Whose mind did you change? Did anyone with an alternative point of view even bother to read your post? If they did what possible reason could they have to reply? I suppose I will stay in my box for now. It’s an odd place being one of those “independents” the media often references. More and more we are becoming extinct, as more and more we are put in a box for easy reference for those who need to shout loudly about how they feel, and how others should feel just like them.

Surge in anxiety from money worries due to pandemic

Found a very good article here that discusses the anxiety of many of our friends in the UK. The article did a good job of illustrating some of the nuances of income in a pandemic situation. What does it mean to be furloughed? Unemployed and the very real fear of being an essential worker and the risk of infection.

From the article: The survey’s finding suggested that more than 25 million people – 49.6% of over-16s in Britain – rated their anxiety as “high”, more than double the amount who did so at the end of 2019.

Those suffering the greatest level of worry were an estimated 2.6 million people who said they were struggling to pay bills.

The survey data suggested that 8.6 million people had seen their income fall, with this group also reporting anxiety levels 16% higher than average.

Women reported anxiety levels 24% higher than men on average, with the ONS saying the difference might be because a larger proportion of women were either economically inactive, in lower paid jobs or working part time.”

I love numbers and statistics and I think we can all agree it’s hardly surprising that anxiety levels are rising. To be clear, the statistics and numbers above are projected out based on the survey results. They didn’t speak to millions of people but it’s statistically viable to extrapolate it out to the larger population. Now keep in mind this is a study done in Britain, it’s not necessarily representative of the rest of the world.

That said economies are going in the wrong direction and incomes are being lost. We do touch a little bit on personal finance on this blog. What I can tell you is, I have lived through many market down turns that were not financially created.

As an example, 9/11 was not a business event but the market responded and people lost jobs. It’s the same with covid. The pandemic affected the economy drastically but the underlying economic foundations were in a decent place. Interest rates were low, consumer spending was up, and businesses were making good profits.

I know that’s little consultation if you lost your job and your anxiety is through the roof. This is a place where government can help citizens, extending unemployment benefits, ensuring companies have opportunity to stay open and requiring wait periods on landlords to evict are a few examples.

For the individual there isn’t a lot I can tell you. We all have different skill sets and coping mechanisms. I would offer you some hope in the sense that you aren’t alone. There are more people now with anxiety then in recent memory and awareness of the issue is higher than ever before.

There is one singular thing you can do for your financial stability and peace of mind. Have a fully funded emergency fund which should be minimally 1000, but ideally 6 month’s worth of your expense. I have a post on what an emergency fund is linked here.

If you have one great, if you don’t it should be one of your top financial goals. It will help you a great deal during the next crisis. Hang in there, things will get better, one day at a time.

Beyond the Trees

A Silver Lining to the Pandemic ?

Finding positives has been challenging given the environment we are all in currently. Not only that but being a blogger in the Anxiety space makes it doubly so. That said we have a few silver linings here. One of them is that more and more people are talking about anxiety issues. Specifically many outlets have been featuring pieces on Anxiety and Depression as it pertains to the isolation conditions we are in now.

Last post I showed you an example of a negative media portrayal of anxiety. Here is a positive.

From the article: “In fact, that’s exactly what I want to talk about: anxiety and other mental health conditions that untold millions of individuals deal with every day— conditions that can affect their job performance, physical wellbeing and personal happiness. These sometimes-debilitating conditions existed long before COVID-19 enveloped the planet—and they’ll exist long after the virus is tamed and life, to some degree, starts returning to normal.”

This is great news, the narrative is beginning to emerge that mental illness has to be addressed in the present. Yes we have had events occur that have pushed this narrative before to little result but this pandemic is affecting everyone. Sadly, I suspect as this drags on more and more people are going to develop anxiety disorders, or reveal ones they already had.

The silver lining here is the more light that is shone on the issue the broader acceptance it receives and under normal conditions positive outcomes occur. I often come back to economics when I give examples but this is similar to a demand side issue. When things get back to normal, there will be higher demand for anxiety related services.

For those of us who have suffered with it for years that equates to more options at some point in the future as supply of service catches up. I think you will see far more resources devoted to helping people with anxiety from private instructions. Employers in particular would likely want to have a robust mental health benefits package to ensure productivity of staff and place people in positions to be successful.

We have ample resources (albeit not perfect) to deal with regular physical malady that people get. We need a bit of a catch up for mental health issues and this pandemic might be the catalyst that does it. Ya I’m feeling optimistic today, things will get better, you are doing awesome, one day at a time.