Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Where Have We Been and Where Are We Now?
First is the pre-disaster phase – a time of fear and uncertainty. For many, this came when we first learned about the coronavirus, or when the first case appeared in Washington state. Next is the impact phase – a realization that the disaster has arrived, like the declaration of a national public health emergency and statewide stay-at-home orders. Depending on the disaster, reactions during this phase vary. In the case of this pandemic, we ran the gamut from panic and confusion – stockpiling toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and food, as well as interpreting mixed messages from our nation’s leaders – to anger and disbelief. From here, the heroic and honeymoon phases emerged – a short-lived peak of emotional highs, altruism, and community bonding. We pushed for a sense of togetherness while we were physically apart. Coloradans howled nightly at 8 p.m. in solidarity and to show their support for health care workers. And when hospitals were short on personal protective equipment (PPE), we held supply drives and learned to sew masks.
But then came disillusionment. We experienced emotional lows and became fatigued as the pandemic continued. We also experienced a reality of the losses incurred. Loss of loved ones. Loss of daily routines. Loss of jobs or financial stability. Loss of some of our favorite locally owned businesses. And still, a continued need for physical distancing, and no clear end in sight.
In the disillusionment phase, we take separate paths. Art Kleiner, a business writer and editor, and Cheri Lovre, the founder of the Crisis Management Institute in Oregon, write that some have experienced ongoing anxiety, others grief, depression, or trauma.