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Am I Stigmatizing Reactions to COVID-19?

March 23, 2020 Laura Barton

There's been a question on my mind concerning other people's reactions to COVID-19 as it continues to spread and as people continue to respond to it: am I stigmatizing reactions to COVID-19 (caronavirus)? There has been a wide range of reactions to how the virus is changing how we operate as a society, fear being a huge one. I find myself a bit of an outlier in this, which is where this question I've been thinking about comes from. Allow me to explain.

Am I Stigmatizing Others' Reactions to COVID-19 by Having a Negative Reaction to Them?

I didn't want to write about COVID-19 or my reaction to it. Part of how it's been affecting my mental health is the sheer oversaturation of it. It's on social media, it's on the radio when I drive to work (yes, as I write this, I'm still at a point where I'm going into work), it's in my inbox as companies release statements, it's at work as the company figures out how to handle this. It's literally everywhere. I can hardly go a few moments without it coming up again. It feels like chaos.

I'm not afraid of the virus. I am exhausted by its existence. I'm exhausted by the constant barrage of conversation about it and I'm exhausted by reactions to COVID-19. The latter is something I've been wrestling with because I absolutely see the need for precaution and I understand why people are anxious and scared over COVID-19.

I've been wrestling with that because people have every right to feel what they're feeling, and at the same time I can't help but feel like it's too much. I've been trying to navigate this fine line between feeling like I'm stigmatizing how people are responding to COVID-19 with its impact on their mental health and expressing how this is all affecting me since I'm reacting to the reactions rather than the virus.

All of the conversations and imagery around COVID-19 are loud. It is overstimulation at its finest and overstimulation is not something I do well with. It sets me on edge, it makes me feel like I can't breathe, it makes me feel like I can't escape. And do I ever feel like I can't escape right now.

Because of that nagging in the back of my mind that to say anything about how I feel in the wake of how people are reacting would be to ultimately stigmatize those reactions, I've been mostly silent about how it's impacting me. On some level, it feels unfair of me to be responding this way when people do legitimately have something to be worried about.

I Don't Want to Contribute to Mental Health Stigma

Although I personally haven't been witness to it, I'm sure there's plenty of stigma surrounding people's reactions to COVID-19. The last thing I want to do is contribute to mental health stigma.

The unknowns of timelines of how long this will last has me a bit on edge. This is all still fairly new and I'm already worn out. I'm not sure I'll figure out how to navigate this fine line I've been walking with that question of "am I stigmatizing reactions to COVID-19?" thrumming along on repeat. I don't like feeling guilty for being honest about my mental wellbeing and asking for peace from the chaos.

I think one important thing I'm going to have to realize though is that I need to include myself when I say people's feelings and responses are valid. Maybe I can set that on repeat in my mind instead.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2020, March 23). Am I Stigmatizing Reactions to COVID-19?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2020/3/am-i-stigmatizing-reactions-to-covid-19



Author: Laura Barton

Laura Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada. Find her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads.

Rachel Wright (Rae)
March, 26 2020 at 10:37 am

I can totally understand this. I am not afraid of the virus as I put things into perspective. I am feeling over inundated with the talk of it, the posts on social media and the fear that is in the Universe at this time.
I work from home anyway, so I don't fear getting sick. I don't watch the news I stopped almost a year ago. It's my husband coming home wanting to talk about what he heard, how the stores are empty and so on.
It's hearing customers talking to my advisors who trying to help them talk about it.
It's social media in a frenzy.
If I say that I am not afraid I get attacked online by people screaming at me saying I should be afraid.
It's too much and I know I need to walk away from all forms of media at this point.
All it's doing is angering me more than than making me afraid

March, 26 2020 at 12:24 pm

Hey Rachel. It sounds like you and I are on the same wavelength with this and I appreciate you taking the time to share. I've been thinking about turning off my social media for a period of time to distance myself from the chaos, but I'm hesitant to do so since that's how I stay in touch for other things. And you're spot on about the reactions to saying you're not afraid of it. I understand precaution. I understand being mindful for those who have health reasons to be afraid. But overall, I'm not afraid for myself and I'm not going to work myself up just because someone else says I should.
These are definitely frustrating circumstances in many ways, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. Wishing you the best!

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