How the Response to COVID Affected Us at a Personal Level
It will take many years to fully process the trauma of what we experienced during COVID. But our individual human stories can help us get at least part of the way there.
The scars that have been left on all of us by the response to COVID are incomprehensibly varied and deep. For most, there hasn’t been enough time to mentally process the significance of the initial lockdowns, let alone the years-long slog of mandates, terror, propaganda, social stigmatization and censorship that followed. And this psychological trauma affects us in myriad ways that leave us wondering what it is about life that just feels so off versus how it felt in 2019.
For those who were following the real data, the statistics were always horrifying. Trillions of dollars rapidly transferred from the world’s poorest to the richest. Hundreds of millions hungry. Countless years of educational attainment lost. An entire generation of children and adolescents robbed of some of their brightest years. A mental health crisis affecting more than a quarter of the population. Drug overdoses. Hospital abuse. Elder abuse. Domestic abuse. Millions of excess deaths among young people which couldn’t be attributed to the virus.
But underneath these statistics lie billions of individual human stories, each unique in its details and perspectives. These individual stories and anecdotes are only just beginning to surface, and I believe that hearing them is a vital step in processing everything that we’ve experienced over the past three years.
I recently sent out a query on Twitter as to how people had been affected by the response to COVID at an individual level. The conversation that emerged is a luminating and haunting reflection of what each of us experienced over the past three years. Below is a tiny selection of the responses that I found especially powerful.
Specifically, the query was: “Which aspect of the response to COVID affected you most at a personal level?”
Mark Trent: “Watching the last remnants of my belief in democracy get peeled away. Seeing the collusion across the globe roll out in lockstep made me realise just how powerful and comprehensively in control those that orchestrate the darkness are.”
Dr Jonathan Engler: “The realization that nearly everyone I knew would give up literally all their individual rights for the illusion of safety.”
Muriel Blaive, PhD: “How my friends, including many colleague historians who know very well the history of the 20th century, proved ready to believe any propaganda, to refrain from questioning government nonsense, and to public shame anyone who did. It's as if all the studies we led were for naught.”
Myrddin the Weathered: “How easily people were propagandized. Particularly people who I thought carried the ability to properly scrutinize the situation. Frankly, it was down right chilling how easily most people fell in line. No question how the Nazis were able to control their populace.”
Watcher: “Closures. My business was thrown for a loop the outlets I used to deal with depression like the gym or going for coffee w/friends were closed and it was beyond hard to get through the day with everything going on and no outlet to deal with any of it Talking about it is traumatic.”
Christine Bickley: “Everything. My business that I spent 30 years building hasn't recovered and is unlikely to. I used to have health insurance and save. Had to cancel the ins and am using my savings to top up income. I'm not the worst off by far. It was criminal.”
Jemma Palmer: “Lockdown = no income, no home, health declined, mental health declined, didn’t see my family or friends for years, changed my life for the worse, not sure I will get to have kids now, I’d like to be who I was before lockdown & for my life to be what it was.”
Sarah Burwick: “The restrictions on travel and rules governing visiting patients in the hospital. I believe my mom would be alive today had I been able to visit her and advocate for her care in person. It haunts me.”
ProfessorYaff1e: “Not being able to visit my dad in hospital as he lay dying until the last couple of days when he was so far gone he didn't know what was going on.”
Sursum Corda: “Having my mom locked up in an assisted living center & not being able to hug her or talk to her except by phone through a closed window-all while HCWs traipsed in & out unmolested. I was so angry!!”
PJS: “The lies.”
Karinaksr: “Segregation, exclusion.”
Tin hayes: “Tribalism.”
Ally Bryant: “Had to be the crimes against humanity...”
Nick Hudson: “The darkness of it all.”
Remnant MD: “The disintegration of Autonomy. One of the four pillars of medical ethics. Those who partook, have made a mockery of medicine.”
MD Aware: “The willingness of so many to comply with all of it, no questions asked - even when things made no logical sense. The unwillingness of the same individuals, especially colleagues, to listen to any reason. I never imagined society could be so influenced and so horribly misled.”
Love4WesternCanada: “My mother dying alone, after have been cut off from all family for 7 weeks.”
ThinkingOutLoud: “The devastating human misery created by the closures of people’s businesses. Being unable to talk to any friends or most family because every single one of them agreed with what was happening, I was treated like a leper. It’s why I turned to twitter, to feel less alone.”
RantingLogician: “My ex fell for it, I didn’t and refused to comply or close my business, and she kept my young children from me the entirety of the first lockdown.”
Debbie Mathews: “Losing a 30 year friendship because we had a difference of opinions on the issue. She considered me a selfish grandma killer.”
Number 99: “It harmed my career, irrevocably. Tied with, it harmed my son's college career, irrevocably. Tied with: it harmed my marriage, irrevocably.”
Hillary Beightel: “Masks. Not just the fact they were useless. They became a political symbol, but they served as a tool to keep people scared. Masks mean everyone is sick. They played such a huge psychological role… I hate them!”
Year Zero: “Vaccine passports. I still can’t believe that most people just went along willingly with segregating their friends and family members out of society. There’s been no atonement for this. It’s deeply fractured close relationships in a way I’m not certain I’ll ever get over.”
Kristen Mag: “For me it was being cast out of public spaces for five months. Dark days.”
Natalya Murakhver: “School closures and child mask policies.”
Mike O’Hara: “Everything that was done to children. Masking, separation, isolation.”
BundlebranchblockMD: “Watching my then teenagers go from happy, healthy, engaged kids to isolated, depressed, emaciated kids. Biggest mistake of our lives not moving them to private school immediately. We have spent many times more than the cost of tuition on therapy and tutors.”
Spence O Matic: “My son was a 2020 high school grad. All the signatures of that, plus his senior year of baseball….wiped out because of a severe cold with zero threat to him. No grad night. No prom. Nothing. No apologies will suffice for me. Ever. The data was clear.”
Rob Hazuki: “The persistent doom figures on the news, the advertising on tv that messaged as of the world had been nuked and the way the media didn’t ask any intelligen questions during press conferences other than to beg to be locked down harder.”
IT Guy: “I was booted out of my niece’s wedding for not being vax’d. My wife hasn’t seen her grandkids since the Before Times because she’s not vax’d. My first cousin died of cardiac arrest right after 2nd Moderna dose. That’s 3 I know, but all pretty impactful.”
M_Vronsky: “I no longer speak to my father or my brother, both of whom abandoned all of their supposed Liberal pretenses and became authoritarians up to the point of arguing for my segregation from society (my father argued that to my face the last time we spoke).”
Instavire: “The overwhelming # of people (family not excepted) willing to turn Milgram’s dial up to “potentially lethal,” when it came to punishing the non-vx’d — and worse, that they did so with such glee. The success of the experiment sickens me and most of these people are still among us.”
Foundring: “My parents/family didn’t care when I lost my jobs over the vax mandate.”
DDP21: “The way friends and family turned on each other over vaccine status. Our already small family has been destroyed by it. My kids are growing up without their aunt, uncle and cousins.
EatSleepMask: “Being a teacher & seeing kids who need the consistency of school, being forced to stay home. Then having to reassure not only them but my own kids that things would be ok, when I was just as shell shocked as they were. Not to mention balancing educating my students & my kids.”
LFSLLBHons: “Masking children and the fact that most parents did it willingly and turned on those who tried to save the children.”
PiA: “It shuttered my ~15 year old business. It isolated my loved ones after the death of my mother. It was a tough road to navigate for everyone. But the worst part: it ruined too many lives.”
Manny Grossman: “Losing my business, career, career trajectory, friends, business contacts, reputation and the ability to shop in my local stores etc. All because I advocated for reality and truth.”
Captain Ancapistan: “It broke the brains of almost everyone I know, and forever changed my perspective of western medicine.”
Nicky Frank: “April 22, 2020 and May 6, 2020. Those were the days my friends Ryan and Jen committed suicide because they couldn't bare the isolation anymore and people were telling them they're weak. Ryan's words "I can't infect anyone if I'm dead" still haunt me.”
John Baird: “The snooping, snitching, silencing, and bullying of sceptics, neighbours, and people with hidden disabilities. Curtain twitchers, do-gooders, and virtue signallers held sway. Never again.
SunnySideUp: “Lockdown down!! Having to deal with my 15 yr daughter self-harming, sucidal thoughts, eating disorder and fear of fire... I hate what they did. Also how it has affected her twin sister! Both seeing counsellors... not what I have ever wanted!!”
Beth Baisch: “Social bubbles. Nobody included me in theirs. It was an awful, lonely way of finding out where one stands. Some friends saw me out walking one day and rather than come over and say hello they DM’d later because I wasn’t in their bubble. Still suffering effects.”
Lex: “My brother disowning me. Family specifically not allowing *me* into their homes. My 'spectrum' child freaking out at homeschooling. The hangover of being dead inside half the time & despondent the other. Worrying friends & family have that poison pulsing through them. Etc Etc Etc...”
Camelia: “Restrictions on live performance. I worked in music and became completely black pilled on the entire industry.”
Fashion Felons: “My company went bankrupt and lost my job. Family and friends wouldn't see me because I was from a 'hot zone'. Got the jab and lots of horrible side effects. Need I go on?”
Miki Tapio Walsh: “Universal masking of healthy people and forcing us to live in a faceless society hit me hard. I was also frustrated that I lost the ability to do my normal exercise routine for 2 years… I know not the most important thing in the world, but it truly affected my mental health.”
James F. Kotowski: “My son's having been kept out of school, missed out on most of his wrestling season, etc. On a more societal level, the exacerbation of the schism between 'republicans' and 'democrats', and the degraded status of dialogue between 'opposing' pts of view.”
Russ Walker: “The school lockdowns, my daughter lost her junior and senior year. Followed by all the General lock downs and vaccine mandates. Unforgivable!”
Daniel Hadas: “Closure of universities. A fundamental betrayal of students' and lecturers’ vocation.”
Stevemur: “School/university response. Those who had the most at stake (i.e., learning, childhood, socialization) had a LOT summarily taken away from them, with very little evidence to support it. And when the evidence became clear, it has taken (and IS taking) way too long to restore it.”
Rowan: “I think seeing people get hurt, the hypocrisy and discrimination. At this point people not willing to admit they were wrong and being so terrible.”
Trish the Dish: “I’m probably going to get married (ask me again in a month) and my one remaining Alive Parent I’m not going to invite because he disowned due to disagreements about the shot.”
Snek: “My oldest is on the spectrum and he never got used to going to school again after the closures. It's cost me all my vacation days and my ex has had a burnout due to it. Everyone is emotionally exhausted and he's having to go to special counselors. He was doing great before.”
Molly Ulrich: “When folks got a kick out of being authoritarians when they told me to pull up my mask over my nose.”
Increase Laws: “The mask humiliation ritual & watching my kids have to do it. Got cut off from family members. Lost a rental & threatened with job loss plus the inability to travel. 2020 was quite the year.”
Maret Jaks: “Me, I'm fine, but watching our gov't give young people despair and loneliness and being helpless to do anything about it - awful. My kids are grown and fine and managed their teens well. Many of my friends fed into the fear and one couple found their only child dead (suicide).”
Elizabeth Forde: “Constantly wondering what small freedom was going to be taken away next, and the isolation from friends and family. It reminded me of when I was in a domestically violent relationship with a lot of coercive control. My PTSD came back because Lockdown felt so similar to me.”
Dawn: “Hospital protocols. My mom (vaccinated, recovered from COVID, & rec’d monoclonal antibodies) was denied seeing my dad until the day before he died. 3.5 weeks he laid there by himself. Unforgivable.”
Golden Bull: “There were many aspects but one that both crushed & infuriated me were old friends in nursing homes that were locked up unable to see their family & friends. Two of these friends passed on only seeing one family member & staff for more than 6 months. A sad end to life. Criminal.”
Helpful_signage: “Being locked out as my grandfather died alone, then not having a funeral. Our church emptying out. Watching my covid fanatic brother push everyone out of his life, culminating in an abrupt divorce. Our neighbors across the street divorced. My kids had 2 years of birthdays alone. Me & everyone at my job took a 20% salary cut. We couldn't visit grandparents across the border. i lost a bunch of longtime friends. The nights our kids would break down in tears because they thought their friends didn't like them anymore. Beaches, parks, trails all roped off. Our neighbours yelling out the window at us for going outside. No bathrooms open if we tried to travel. Not being able to buy clothes because they were non-essential. Having no toilet paper. Threatening, bewildering government propaganda commercials and signs everywhere. Can't forget our stupid complicated border situation where we were required to 'quarantine' in a friend's basement for 14 days (despite not having covid), during which the gov't would call us every day to ensure we didn't leave and would make us wait hours to take tests on webcam. Every day brought a new horror. There's so much more. It was all so ridiculous, and yet nobody objected. People cheered for it, became deputized civilian enforcers of it even. Watched so many people's lives get ruined while they stood by applauding.”
It will take many years before we can fully process the trauma of what we experienced during COVID. But hopefully, sharing our individual human stories can help us get at least part of the way there.
Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World. Want to support my work? Get the book. Already got the book? Leave a quick review.
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I am still mourning the loss of most of my friends who turned out to be hateful authoritarians. Also, I now have to question everything I have ever learned. While this is generally a good thing, it is exhausting. When I read how much other people have lost I realize that I have been relatively lucky and, with the help of a like minded husband, will just keep moving forward.
Very troubling times. And all of those responses reflect the insanity of it all. However, because of the clarity this strange and evil veil brought, I was able to realize my true purpose as a father and husband. The frailty of our society invoked a desire to strengthen my family in ways I’d previously forsaken.