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You’re Not Alone: The Cognitive Dissonance of Caring About COVID-19 When Others Don't

Editor's Note

This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

2020 – the year most of us would rather forget. The year that, like most, started with such hope but soon came crashing down.

Between the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, its staggering effect on our economy, and the daily barrage of political news, life has become overwhelming.

While not as quantifiable as COVID-19 statistics or deemed as worthy of news headlines as the upcoming election, there is the effect they are having on personal lives and our mental health.

For me, wearing a mask and limiting where we go hasn’t been difficult. What has been difficult is processing how people are responding to mask mandates, business shutdowns and limitations, racial equality rallies and the events preceding them, how our children receive their education and the actions of our country’s leadership.

Reading and hearing strangers being disrespectful of efforts to save lives is frustrating. However, when it is friends and family who you’ve known to be loving and caring people — that’s hurtful.

How can a friend of over 20 years not denounce their friends’ comments when they spew QAnon conspiracies?

How can friends whose children have complex medical needs support the presidential candidate who has steadily been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

How can those who are supportive of their children’s education not consider the effect returning to the classroom will have on the teachers and staff?

How can those who work with the public publicly condemn the efforts of those advocating for equality?

How can friends who are especially close to their parents and family members at high risk downplay the risks and severity of COVID-19?

It all boggles my mind.

I’ve tried asking a few to explain their stance, explaining that I care about them and I am concerned about their stance on the respective subject, and have been met with insults, told I am overreacting or ignored until I pressed for a response. Their reactions have stopped me from asking any others. It has made me distance myself from some family and friends.

It has made me want to stop caring.

That’s my problem — I can’t understand, and I can’t stop caring. While worrying about my family’s health, our financial security and our future access to health insurance, this has weighed as heavily on my mind.

Understanding that this year has created the perfect conditions for unrest, I find solace that so many others I know have the same concerns and frustrations, but at the same time, I wish none of us had to experience it. I also find solace that we have each other and that there are also positive voices I can look to for inspiration. In the coming months, it is my hope that more and more emotional positivity and stability will emerge, to the benefit of all.

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Photo by Huseyin Akuzum on Unsplash

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