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The Extra Safety of 'COVID Bubble' for Someone With Social Anxiety

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As a child I watched the movie “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” John Travolta played a young boy so sensitive to germs that his parents, fearing for his safety, placed him in a large manufactured bubble. He could see out but not allow anyone in. A single touch of a hand could pass on small microbiotic germs that would put his life in danger.

For many years his bubble is a sense of security with visual access to his family. Items carefully screened and cleaned provide him with entertainment until one day his sense of isolation overwhelms him. Teenage angst becomes the instigator for a step forward, a longing to experience more and to interact with others moves him to a place of desperation. A new found friend arranges a special spacesuit for him giving him the power to move around freer while still protected from the bacterial foes that threaten his existence. Soon his new found freedom beckons him to a place of reckless abandonment where he throws off his protective equipment.

In New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic, the family or social unit in which we stay is called a bubble, and were encouraged to stay within that bubble. Handshakes and hugs were a thing of the past as we don our protective gear to beat our unseen enemy.

For me this has been a mixed bag. Physical touch from anyone other than my husband and parents has always been a challenge. A simple hug puts my mind in overdrive, or even at times the question of whether to hug someone else… should I? Do they even like me? What if i give off the wrong idea? A hug with a kiss on the cheek from friends or family members puts me in a tailspin. How do I return the gesture. It all seems so awkward and I feel so awkward. I don my protective armor and give a light hug without a kiss. Loud judging voices fill my head questioning my motives. What is wrong with you you proud arrogant fool. My eyes look down and the simplest gesture produces a shroud of shame.

Welcome to my world New Zealand. As we don our protective gear to protect us from our bacterial foes and practice social distancing. I feel a sense of de ja vu and may I say it — a sense of relief as our nation has a taste of my life.

Getty image via Oqvector

Originally published: December 18, 2020
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