spiritual life

Is Post Pandemic Stress Syndrome a thing?

I recently heard that a certain percentage of survivors of the influenza epidemic of the early 1900s manifested Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a handful of years after the dying stopped.

The journalist in me wondered how modern Americans could determine an accurate percentage for something that happened a century ago — particularly given that PTSD wasn’t a diagnosis of the time. But, the human being in me knew, if anything was wrong with the number, it was probably that it was too low. It was more likely 100 percent.

I say this because, in my world at least, what I’ve come to call Post Pandemic Stress Syndrome is rampant. Indeed, given that my profession brings me into contact with strangers every week, I can anecdotally say that I see it everywhere I go.

Interviews — even those with upbeat subject matter — always drift to COVID. My source has been sick himself, perhaps in a long-haul kind of way. She’s lost someone. He’s lost something. She’s having trouble regaining a focus or hope.

No matter to whom I am speaking — rich or poor, black or white, young or old, faith-filled or seeker — there is an inevitable sigh and a look that drifts toward space. Sometimes there are tears.

I know this sigh and look and tears — from the inside as well as the outside. Look at the photo with this post. It’s a sculpture my youngest daughter made in art class this spring. I put it on the window sill above my desk because it is the very visual representation of what the entire world is doing right now — at least on the inside.

It’s not pretty or easy or any of the things that we like. But, I’ve come to realize we should thank God for such a posture of the spirit.

It is a right and peculiarly joyful thing to respond this way to the stresses of this long and brutal pandemic season. Indeed, if we are not reduced to at least our figurative knees, something is rather wrong with our souls.

So, I look at this sculpture and relate. I look at this sculpture and know I am not alone. All are struggling.

But, much more importantly, I look at this sculpture and remember there is a Jesus who looks at me. Especially on days when my heart is bent into this very shape. He relates. And, I will never be alone.

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31 thoughts on “Is Post Pandemic Stress Syndrome a thing?”

    1. Thank you. I suspect artists see and feel things in a way most people do not. Maybe that’s why God wired some of us to sculpt and paint and make music and write. Someone must speak for the soul — even if it’s hard to make a living!

      Continued blessings in your new home!! Hope the doggos are well.

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    1. Some days, I have to pull the curtain because I can’t stop looking at it. πŸ™‚ I really believe God is speaking to Gen Z — and all those who’ve had so little opportunity to know Him — in ways that other generations cannot even imagine.

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  1. I’m at the bottom of the wide world, in New Zealand where “life is relatively normal” but I still do not think we are truly going to ride above it all, even in our situation. I’m loathe to take that holiday/vacation (not overseas) there is a fear in me that we will have another short lockdown and I will be far away from my own bed/home and struggle to get home quickly. Yesterday I had my 2nd covid-vax which apparently should protect from getting very ill or even ill at all, but who knows.
    As for PTSD, I’ve only recently fully recovered from CFS which I acquired through a Post Viral episode that wouldn’t abate – a 25 years journey. I’m now coping with other health issues although having the other, I know all about “self management”

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    1. Be well in New Zealand!! We are both vaxxed and still limiting our travels here, too. πŸ™‚

      Ah, this life is never easy, is it? Yet something about all of this feels like opportunity — a time for people to reckon with their life choices, mortality, God. For some, COVID could — so, so ironically — be a blessing.

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  2. I guess any change can cause us some challenges or stress. One of the unique aspects of this time is that the Pandemic has effected everyone in some way, so as changes in rules or restrictions are imposed or lifted, people’s behaviour may be surprising. Adjusting to unusual behaviour, coping with our emotions as we hear many voice their grievances, acclimatizing to modes of travel or large numbers of people, and being uncertain about what is the best course of action now – it can all be stressful!! I would imagine some would find it a lot more stressful than others.

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    1. πŸ™‚ You raise an interesting point: Because so much is in flux, many are voicing their grievances and hoping for change for the better. That does make for a lot of opportunity in spite of the stress!

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      1. I would have hoped that if one lesson has been learned throughout the past 18 months it is that “everything is not alright Jack” and we really do need changes for the better in every corner of the earth. I know not everyone would see it as the solution to all of mankind’ challenges, but on a personal level – praying for God’s Kingdom has never been more apt!

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  3. Nora, what a profound sculpture your daughter has made. The posture of the figure combined with your words “It’s not pretty or easy or any of the things that we like. But, I’ve come to realize we should thank God for such a posture of the spirit” shows how brokenness and hope can reside together for a time. It reminded me of a verse in Romans “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5).

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    1. Oh, yes! God’s hope never disappoints! And, I loveyour thought about brokenness and hope residing together “for a time.” There will be a time that brokenness is gone forever.

      Hope all is well with you. I’m not posting much these days as work has been intense this summer. Another opportunity has risen regarding my third book. πŸ™‚ We’ll see!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All is well. Between vacations and the puppy the summer is slipping by too quickly. School resumes in two weeks so it’s time to begin lesson planning once again. Keep me posted on the book front! I’m eager to read another Nora Edinger novel.

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  4. I spent 6 days in the hospital getting hydrated from Covid that shut my kidneys down. That was last December. I am still having health issue from it and have a tiredness that is not usual. All that though gave me countless opportunities to witness to everyone who came into my room. I boasted to all, unless God has my house ready in heaven I am not going. It was heartbreaking to have my doctor tell me he had signed more death certificates in the past six months then in all his years as a doctor. He looked so tired. Nurses wept as they told of how hard it was to come to work and face this illness when some of them had family die from it. I had this virus like everyone but I tell you it’s made so many question their eternity and it’s a time we believers who know the truth need to step up. I liked your post.

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    1. Praying that you will fully recover. It is such a sad thing. My family also likely had COVID in January 2020. (My husband is in contact with a lot of international students and several were sick when they returned to school after that Christmas break). We all recovered — thank you, Jesus — and went on to be vaccinated, but we’ve lost five neighbors and friends. It’s a difficult time in so many ways, but God is able and I believe He is at work for good in spite of how bleak things look at times. Blessings!!

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