How to deal with anger: Covid denial plus apocalypse fantasies edition
December 5, 2020 9:46 PM   Subscribe

So I've relocated to a very isolated area in Canada from downtown Oakland, CA. Hooray! Except, I'm completely traumatized by my experience of the last year (Covid related and much more) and am having a hard time coping with people's attitudes right now. This is a small community, far away from any real danger, so their experience of the pandemic has been much different from my own. I need some sanity checks and some ideas on how to cope. (a flurry of backstory below)

What I'm dealing with:

1. My emotional support dog, and the joy of my life, died after months of agonizing illness in July.
2. My narcissistic mother having a psychotic break around the same time and moving across the country, with plenty of gaslighting and guilt-tripping along the way.
3. My mother, aunt, and uncle all catching Covid. My mother is having ongoing hypertensive crisis due to post-Covid complications. My uncle has been in the hospital for 28 days and is not likely to recover
4. A now 6 month long recurrence of my auto-immune disease, which is incredibly painful
5. Dealing with being at ground-zero for the BLM protests, being an active participant, living in a haze of tear gas, flash-bangs, and helicopters circling my neighborhood for weeks.
6. California fire season - toxic air for weeks on end, the sun being blocked out for days, friends evacuating, losing their homes
7. Canadian border closures ruining plans for my marriage and move (still ongoing)
8. The loss of all the things that brought me joy - friends, cultural events, hiking, traveling, etc. No physical contact with another human for 8 months.

What's happening now:

I'm here, in a small, remote mountain village with my now husband. We are far, far away from any risk. The pandemic is something that is happening, but it hasn't touched them or their families in any way, and probably won't. We are, in every sense, as isolated as it is possible to be. The restrictions haven't, and won't, touch them. Their lives are unchanged.

These people have known me for many years. They also know where I live in the states and what happened there. I made it clear to them when I arrived that I was struggling with how much I'd had to deal with because of the pandemic. Once I got out of mandatory quarantine here, I organized a group dinner as a kind of homecoming. The conversation quickly turned to Covid, and their take on it was that it wasn't that bad, that the government was lying, and that this was just part of some government plot to control everyone.

I am sick at heart. It infuriates me to listen to them complain about the recent restrictions on group gatherings, as if anyone is going to drive 2 hours outside of town to check on them. That masks are interfering with their bodily autonomy. That people who believe the virus is as bad as "they" say are brainwashed by the mainstream media (i.e. me). That this is "step one" of the government mandating a vaccine with a microchip to track everyone and control them. I feel like I've fallen into a nightmare, when I thought these people were down-to-earth normal folks who just enjoyed the freedom of living sustainably and being self-sufficient, who didn't spend a lot of time online marinating in conspiracy theories. I swear these people do not come off as insane. I've been coming up here for 6 years and this is the first time I've heard about any of this.

This is a very small, tight-knit group. My husband does not buy in to the weird apocalypse fantasies, thank god, but almost all of the rest of this group does, to a greater or lesser degree. I just found out that several of the older people here fled to this place because they thought Y2K spelled absolute societal collapse. And they are even now preparing to literally "run into the hills" (we're already in the hills, idk how much farther we could go) to escape the imminent internment of all Canadians (?), ostensibly to prevent Covid, but ultimately to enslave the population. They think total societal collapse is imminent, unavoidable, and that we will all be left to our own devices.

I am so, so angry. This place, that I thought would be a sanctuary, feels like some kind of personal hell.

Help?! What do now? I live amongst these people and we depend on each other, as small remote communities do. I need to somehow make peace with this, and to manage my own trauma and healing process. I feel like their whining about restrictions that will never really touch them are in poor taste to voice in front of me. I feel like their dismissal of the severity of Covid is rude in the extreme in front of someone with family members literally dying of it. I tried to talk to some of them and was met with a lot of defensiveness and justifications I would expect from Trump cultists, though everyone here would absolutely identify as a liberal. I feel like I lived through a war and escaped, and everyone is scoffing at it and saying it's all a mainstream media lie, yet talking about how we need to start prepping for the ultimate authoritarian takeover of the New World Order. They are mainlining QAnon and right-wing clickbait articles and regurgitating them as facts. It upsets me to an insane degree.

I understand that I am dealing with the aftermath of serious trauma, not all of which is directly related to Covid. My dog, my sweet companion who always helped me to stay centered and calm, is ashes in a box.

I do have a therapist. I am on medication for my anxiety. I meditate and go for walks in the forest every day. And yet I'm still angry. And still sad and scared. And I don't know how to field questions about how to prep for the coming Bill Gates mandatory microchip vaccine. Facts and studies and logical explanations don't seem to sink in with these people. Please help.
posted by ananci to Human Relations (29 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Boy, I don’t know. This sounds pretty familiar, even unrelated to Covid, as to what pretty much happens to most city folks who move to a rural area. There are more fantasies than facts. This doesn’t sound like trauma recovery so much as confronting the fact you moved into a community you didn’t understand.

In the short, I’d suggest you avoid taking about Covid. Maybe don’t gather in groups for a bit. One on one you can tell folks you’d rather not discuss it, but you’ll have to stick to that yourself. Focus on what you do have in common, what you do share.

In the bigger picture, consider if this is the right community for you.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:04 PM on December 5, 2020 [23 favorites]

First, I am so sorry for all you have gone through. You have endured a great deal. You hoped for a sanctuary but this has not been what you expected.

Second, it's definitely not your job to convince frightened people in denial of a truth they don't want to face. How much you want to argue with them is your choice. Long-term, maybe this is not where you want to be post-Covid, or maybe it will get better.

You do have the right to get up and walk away when they start spewing nonsense. If they know your situation they'll know why. Even if they believe it's a hoax or plot they should care about your trauma. But if they don't, you can care for yourself.
posted by emjaybee at 10:08 PM on December 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Get the hell out of there ASAP and get a new dog. You don't have the leisure to wait on being emotionally supported. Good luck. I'm so proud of you for all you have made it through!
posted by irisclara at 10:12 PM on December 5, 2020 [14 favorites]

I don’t think what bluedaisy says is true at all, and it feels somehow both dismissive of the OP and condescending toward rural people. I grew up in a rural are where there are plenty of conservatives, and the point the OP is making is that it’s blindingly obvious right now how much liberals (rural and urban) are just as disinterested in truth as the worst caricature of a Trump supporter.

I’m sorry you’re going through this, OP. Most of the world lost their fucking minds this year. What stops me from being too sad about it is to realize these people were always suggestible so they will act less crazy when the outside world returns closer to normal.

The community where I grew up is small but they have been affected and there are people on both sides of the “debate.” It sounds like you’re living among people basically rubbing one out to titillating apocalypse scenarios— if they really thought those things would happen they wouldn’t be running for the hills, they’d be hiding cyanide capsules in their false tooth.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:13 PM on December 5, 2020 [13 favorites]

(To clarify, I lived in a rural county with about 5,000 residents for several years. It is exceedingly common for city folks to move into rural areas and be unable to relate well to their new communities. I said nothing about the policies or intellect of folks in rural areas. There’s a lot of dreaming about the simple life in the country, and it doesn’t always pan out that way.)
posted by bluedaisy at 10:20 PM on December 5, 2020 [26 favorites]

- Is there one person in the community you could start trying to connect with? Maybe pick 2-3 possible people, and start with one of them, and try just having some sort of conversation with them.

- Kind of on the same track: can you get a (probably remote/online) therapist, so you at least have someone to talk to who can make you feel sane?

- Is it time to foster a gentle, sweet old dog?

I'm so, so sorry you're going through this.

I'm glad that, if you can get some system to make this tolerable to you, there's at least a way for people in that remote country to at least meet someone who's been seriously affected -- the thought of them with zero interaction with an affected person is...interesting. I realize this is probably not a burden you can deal with now, or maybe not ever, but -- later, if you have the strength -- it's something to consider maybe.
posted by amtho at 10:44 PM on December 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Why are they asking you questions about the vaccine and such? Because they don't know. They are scared and came up with wild ass theories. As you mentioned, some of these folks were so scared of y2k they fled to the hills. You do not need to convince them of the facts, of the severity of the virus or anything else. Just tell these folks that you are no expert, but you have real life examples of people getting sick (your mother and uncle, etc.). 3, 5 and 6 are behind you. While you still need to process them, they cannot hurt you anymore. I am not sure that just getting another dog to replace your beloved dog that died makes sense. For some, you cannot just replace a member of the family like that, but for some others, they take comfort in knowing they are helping a new animal and establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with new pet. Your mother probably has been this way your whole life. It is easy for me to sit here and tell you to set boundaries with your mother, but if you are up for it, that is what I would do. "Mother darling, this whole year has been one big cluster f*ck. I am so sorry we have had disagreements all year and that you have ongoing health problems. I am now living in remote parts of Canada. I do not have the ability to really be a big help to you right now. I am also dealing with my own issues associated with my move, etc. Why don't we just set up a weekly phone call for Sundays at 5pm? That way we can stay in touch. I have so much other stuff I am dealing with, that unless it is a true emergency, I do not think I will be able to respond to texts or emails. I will do my best."

It sounds like you got married. I can only assume that is great news and that you can rely on your spouse to offer some degree of emotional support. Take advantage of them. That is one of the reasons you are together. To support each other through life's ups and downs. Especially downs. #4, sounds brutal. I can offer nothing to you other than you now knowing that many internet strangers are thinking of you and would help you deal with the pain if we could.

As for #8, I think it will take some time to find your niche in this new community. I would not force it and think that you can replace all you held near and dear in California in weeks or months. I know it is a small community seemingly full of people who you would not normally be friends with or even associate with. I have lived in communities with literally 250 people and in NYC with millions. In some ways busy town was more isolating and lonely. But, even in small town, I eventually found the handful of like minded souls. It was comforting knowing they were there and would be there for me if I asked as I would be for them.

It is not your burden to convince these small minded people of the reality of the rest of the world. It is like the classic cartoon about the guy in front of the computer screen saying to his spouse, I cannot come to bed yet, someone is wrong on the internet. (Or something like that.) Be polite, but generally ignore them. Smile to yourself knowing that you know so much more than them and that they will have issues if the virus ever comes there.
posted by AugustWest at 11:11 PM on December 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I do not understand how it can be that you believe you are "far away from any risk," so much so that you organized a group dinner with people, and can still be so angry that they feel safe where they are. You feel safe there, too. physically, anyway.

you may be angry at them for having good fortune that they don't deserve and haven't earned. that is the one part of the problem that you can work on within yourself, I guess. by remembering that you now share that good fortune, while almost nobody else who had/is having a similarly catastrophic time in the U.S. has any such safe place to escape to. but if that awareness is making you feel worse due to irrational survivor guilt etc. it is probably making you extra angry with these other people who have nothing to do with it. and they really do have absolutely nothing to do with it.

or you may be angry at them for being stupid and malicious and agreeing with all the people who deliberately created the current avoidable U.S. situation, even though they are not literally the same people who did that. you may feel like they are morally indistinguishable from murderers, not because they killed anybody, but because they would if they could, and if they travel to anywhere more dense, they probably will. that is a problem you cannot work on within yourself because it isn't a problem inside you. they may change their minds on small individual issues or they may not, but they are going to stay the way that they are. you may be angry that you believed you knew them, when you did not know them at all. if you're serious about depending on face-to-face interaction with them for daily life needs, you may also be frightened. these are not people I would trust with my life.

but you only need to hold out until vaccines are widely available. you aren't trapped with these creeps forever, only for a few months. a time limit on certain types of suffering is a great luxury that we now have. while most of the trauma you detail was going on, we didn't have that. I think it takes some time for big good news to have a real effect on mental health, and obviously it does nothing to help with your relatives' situation now. but it does or will make a huge difference to what you can endure, knowing that you aren't trapped indefinitely.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:20 PM on December 5, 2020 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: Just as a clarification, when I say "small" I mean there are literally 16 people in this village. There is another village of about 30 minutes away with around 80 people. The nearest town of 5000 people is an hour's drive.
posted by ananci at 12:28 AM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I bet that at least some of these folks would respond positively to a request that since you have family in dire straits with this thing right now, you'd prefer to avoid talking about Covid topics at all for the moment. Hopefully there is SOMETHING else that you could all talk about that's less controversial and upsetting.
posted by quacks like a duck at 12:29 AM on December 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I hate to thread sit, but yes, I have a therapist and the people here have dialed down the Covid conspiracy theory talks in my presence, if not the impending doom theories.

But I am still very angry. I need help with the angry. Where do I put it? How to fix? My (very traditional?) therapist has suggested a high dose of mushrooms to spark an ego death. She's not wrong but I'd like some additional suggestions.

Also no, I cannot handle another dog at the moment. Too soon.
posted by ananci at 2:10 AM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

...a lot of defensiveness and justifications I would expect from Trump cultists, though everyone here would absolutely identify as a liberal.

Well, this might not work in your case then, and as a caveat I haven't been through anything like what you've been through, but to offer my own experience: after years of brief, heated debates—especially tension-building because they'd be curtailed in the interest of tranquility at infrequent family gatherings rather than actually being worked out to any substantial degree—with the most ardent, overt Trump cultist among my close relatives, I finally just straight-up asked her to please oppose white supremacy. (Our family is almost entirely white, as both she and I are.)

She couldn't say that she would, instead offering various excuses for not doing so.

After that point, I kind of felt as if a weight had been lifted, because I knew what I was dealing with. Now I'm sort of in a “love thine enemy” mode—prepared to not budge when moral issues come up, but much of the anxiety that previously arose out of my mistaken belief that if I could just put it the right way, she'd understand, and danger would be averted via that particular route, is resolved now.

So, I wonder if there's a way you could formulate a question for your fellow community members so that the answer might define what you're dealing with in a way that would provide you a similar degree of peace.

It's made it almost more like dealing with a force of nature, or an immovable object you just have to work around, to me—which hardly resolves all problems, or makes anything less dangerous, but for example when you stub your toe on a deeply-embedded rock, or something, you might wince and get momentarily pissed off, but you don't stay angry at the rock.
posted by XMLicious at 3:32 AM on December 6, 2020 [13 favorites]

I have found that personal experiences which counter statements like this tend to at least suppress those statements from being made. “I have some relatives who have long-term injuries due to COVID. Please don’t speak casually about it like that to me, it’s very hurtful.”

Whether their silence on the subject gives you peace of mind, I can’t say, but I’ve found some comfort in the fact that such people are giving these things any kind of second thought around me.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:59 AM on December 6, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have both Albertan and small-town Kootenay and northern BC residents in my family tree and it isn’t the denial and conspiracy theories that get me as much as the condescension. And it’s been true for years; when I’ve lost it the most has been over the anti-Muslim Harper years, especially since they were unwilling to hear about my friends and community.

I get the anger. For me exercise helps but I know you are suffering a chronic disease flair up. I agree with all the above boundary-setting advice.

Also... I think one thing you probably need to embrace intellectually if you are making your home in Canada is that a) we are as lousy as everyone else, and b) our politics don’t match the way Americans define themselves; we don’t have a bright line between liberal and conservative in the same way. This is less true in Alberta in some ways (home of the UCP party but look up Wildrose) but very true in BC, home of a powerful wing of the Social Credit party, worth looking up if you want your modern day view of politics blown up, socialist and incredibly anti-Semitic!) Also, Pierre Elliot Trudeau did have policies that screwed the West. I personally love his multicultural vision, believe strongly in the constitution, but I know why Westerners (I’m assuming you’re not in the Laurentians, if so I can rant on Quebec even more) have a reaction to “Trudeau” similar to “Trump.” I just disagree. I don’t believe politicians have destroyed their own economies for a fake pandemic, but Trudeau did throw Western economic power under the bus with the National Energy Program. Look up Canadian western alienation.

So some of your disappointment is probably that you shorthanded “liberal” to define a worldview that wasn’t there. Learning the history of your area may help. I’m saying that because I’m guessing, as a BLM supporter, you are interested in systems of oppression and that may help lower your anger.

Also yes, the existential threat of Covid is making people nuts in interesting and painful ways. I live in Toronto, believe in science and care for each other etc., people over capital, and I know Justin Trudeau well enough personally to assure everyone he is not interested in mind control unless he could get rid of our memories of him in blackface.

I know people who have died of Covid, but only because in the Before Times I volunteered at a local long term care facility. My family’s gone through two rounds of testing, no Covid, I know one young person that tested positive, but...that’s it. Knock wood it’s still pretty conceptual for me, even in Toronto.

I think that won’t be the case much longer...but what I am actually trying to get at is even I have had dark days lately wondering if this is going to end up as a story of hysteria. Like, I know the numbers. I believe it is a true pandemic. But my monkey brain is starting to say “no, vaunted explorer and tool user species, there is no tiger in the woods! Be free!” So you could just look at them as crazy primates.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:11 AM on December 6, 2020 [19 favorites]

Mod note: OP is asking for advice on how to navigate the anger they're they reiterated in their follow-up comment, "Where do I put it? How to fix?" Please be constructive in answering their question.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 5:39 AM on December 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have been absolutely devastated watching people in my community and family share terrible ideas. My own in-laws are dubious about the pandemic. They stopped talking to us about it, we would hear when my younger siblings in law would ask us how to argue back. I've been so angry.

(My context is similar/different - rural Victoria. We had lockdown but not as tough as Melbourne lock down. )

How I deal with my anger. So I would seethe. Not great. I would vent to my husband. Snooze on social media is great- I just can't tolerate hearing that crap sometimes, even though I don't want to silo myself. In person is a little easier for me because social niceties stop us both from getting in to an argument.

Time helps. (Crappy answer I know!) Sunshine helps, drinking water. (Aren't we just glorified houseplants in some ways.) Looking at stars helps me feel small but secure.

I'm religious so that brings me comfort. (As much as the human-culture infuriates me)

I also redirect my anger to the sources of the poison (eg Murdoch press, Qanon etc) rather than being angry at the poisoned.

Also I think culture shock is something you should look up. Anger can be a part of how it manifests.
posted by freethefeet at 5:56 AM on December 6, 2020 [5 favorites]

You’re not wrong to feel angry. Anger is a reasonable response to the horrors you have lived through. It’s ok to feel that. Also sadness, grief, fear, disappointment, all kinds of stuff. You’re going to have to grieve for the village you thought you were moving to, and all the empathetic supportive community members you thought you would find there. In addition to everything else this year has brought. It sucks, I’m so sorry.

Hopefully these people are better behaved one-on-one and in small groups than all together.

Would journaling help? Just pour all those feelings into words on paper. Sometimes just spelling it all out helps me get my feelings in order and accept them, better than letting them just spin around in my head and hurt me.

I’m sorry for what you’re going through and I hope things get better.
posted by beandip at 6:37 AM on December 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

You can’t convince them through logic or appeals to empathy. You can manipulate them through respect. What do they value? What makes them pay attention, and what are their needs? What’s the situation like, say, for the local roads or some other community resource that needs care and attention? Take charge of it, improve it/organize it/update it, and watch as they begin to consider you vital to the group and thus worthy of respect so when you express logic and desire for empathy you are not dismissed but considered. It’s a hard row to hoe but it can work. Basically you have to have the confidence and expectations of a straight rich white man, so there will be a large element of faking it for a while.

This is how my aunt and uncle ingratiated themselves into their new rural community - they accepted a position as chair (or whatever it was called) of the road association for the main street. It was in terrible disrepair but they dealt with utilities and gathered funds for fixing it up and actually held meetings for the first time in like a decade and wouldn’t you know it, two years in they were incredibly respected members of the community, despite being cityfolk with terrible misconceptions. Maybe there is something you have some related experience with that you can get stuck into that can take your focus and be helpful to the locals.
posted by Mizu at 6:58 AM on December 6, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: 16 people. Oof. I grew up in a village of 300 and that sounds incredibly isolating and easy to get stuck when this kind of disagreement arises. There is a lot of closeness in a small village but also a skill of staying on the surface so you can get along. Kind of like the survival tactics people use at extended family holiday meals. Find the points of agreement and surf over the rest in order to keep the group functional. (Ish.)

Re: the anger and chronic health issues, you may be interested in trying Journal Speak. Basically you open a word document*, have a writing temper tantrum for 20 minutes, delete so there are no social consequences, rinse and repeat. Get it out of your system. Give it a voice. Don’t hold it under the surface. Let it come through and out.

*if paper, shred immediately. Especially in a 16 person village where someone you’re writing about works at the dump. This writing is only ever for you and only for 20 minutes and then it’s gone forever or it isn’t safe enough to actually say the really angry words.
posted by sadmadglad at 7:03 AM on December 6, 2020 [7 favorites]

Intense cardio exercise (for me: running rather than walking) can help me dissipate strong physical emotions to a manageable level. May not be an option for you with your health condition (I sympathise, I have long covid, haven’t run for 9 months just as I need the stress-reduction the most). But I make the suggestion in case it’s of use.
posted by penguin pie at 7:32 AM on December 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

That sounds so stressful. If people start talking this way in front of you again, I would absolutely say something like "My uncle is in the hospital now and may die from COVID, and I can't handle hearing that the illness isn't serious right now. Could you please not talk about this in front of me?" Repeat as needed. At the same time, I would try the loving-kindness meditation.
posted by pinochiette at 8:24 AM on December 6, 2020

Best answer: You poor thing. The whole experience sound harrowing. Hugs from me to you.

You mention you feel like you've lived through a war and escaped. In a sense you have. Your situation reminds me of the experience some returning soldiers have, of returning from combat to an ungrateful and uncomprehending civilian populace. I wonder if reading about those perspectives would at least help you feel less alone. Pat Barker's Regeneration comes to mind. It's intense, but might be cathartic.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 10:22 AM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do you have a creative outlet/passion/hobby? I remember going through an extremely traumatic period and finding solace in working with clay, pounding it hard- as one does- before making it into something. Bread dough might work the same way. Banging nails is good too if you have access to simple carpentry tools. Chopping wood if you have the strength. Throwing rocks into whatever water is nearby, I used that a lot with traumatized kids I worked with, I'd have them imagine putting all the fucked up shit they could think of and throwing it into the ocean- helped that we had an endless quantity of rocks and an ocean at our residential school. Or build a rock wall.

Listen to music that makes you feel good, get up and dance.

Try to avoid all those people as much as you can. I hope you don't have to share a house with any of them. If you do, then consider going somewhere else.

Oh and get yourself one of those full spectrum lights!

I hope your stress eases soon. Big virtual hugs from an old granny.
posted by mareli at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2020 [5 favorites]

I just want to point out that it's a fallacy that this small, rural place is safe from risk of covid.
(Unless you're in Novia Scotia maybe.) This is a fallacy that has been eating small, rural parts of the US alive lately. Sticking to Canada though, for example northern BC cases have risen 500 percent in 3 weeks, while in Vancouver they remain flat.
posted by joeyh at 5:53 PM on December 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

This article helps contextualize the conditions that attract people to conspiracy theories/groups like qanon. Maybe it'll help with some of the anger, eventually (probably after taking some of the advice above).
posted by hannahelastic at 11:58 PM on December 6, 2020

Since you may not be able to exercise to help with your anger, a change in temperature can also help change your mood. In my case warm baths, cold showers, and those plastic blocks you keep in the freezer can help regulate my mood. The freezer blocks I wrap in a kitchen towel and put on a sturdy extremity, like my thigh or an arm or the back of my neck, and I don’t keep it there for long.

I also do things like focusing on my breathing and attempting to remind myself that if I focus on my anger, that is a choice I’m making and I can focus on other things. Please note, I am not suggesting that as a blame-the-victim approach. You have plenty of reasons to be angry. I would certainly be outraged in your place. Sometimes anger is a righteous and cleansing force that we can use to propel ourselves to a better place. But sometimes I look around and ask myself, how is my anger helping me? And if it’s not helping me, I work to acknowledge my anger while also attempting not to get lost in it. My dad used to inspire a kind of seething, impotent rage within me that didn’t fix anything and made me feel worse. So you are wise to explore ways to work around your anger. Your situation has been hellish and still is in some regards. I wish I had better advice and wish you all the best.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:56 AM on December 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

warriorqueen: Please check your MeMail. (I have a question on Canadian politics and history that would be a derail of the discussion proper.)
posted by virago at 12:26 PM on December 7, 2020

It sounds like you've had a hell of a year. Fellow frontline protester here, though the rest of my life was calmer than yours is. I can only imagine doing that work while also in Covid Hell and also Family Hell in general. I'm so sorry about your dog; that's awful.

Anger is a secondary emotion, so there is probably something going on beneath the hair trigger feeling that it might help to get in touch with. For me it's related to anxiety. For you it may be anxiety too, or it may be grief. Or both-- your grief is driving your anxiety.

In general I feel like you have a lot to be grieving and yet you're looking externally-- at the behaviors of other people. Getting angry at other people for their conspiracy theories, inability to mask correctly, etc, is not going to reverse the losses you've experienced. I've noticed in my circle of friends that some of them seem to be processing Covid anxiety/trauma through a sort of rigid, controlling attitude towards people they view as 'failing' the restrictions. People are terrible sometimes, but it's really our governments, capitalism, etc, that failed to deal with the pandemic. Ordinary people did not do this, no matter how infuriating their behavior may be.

Hopefully this comment doesn't sound harsh. You've really gone through so much, I hope you can give yourself credit for how well you've held up under insane pressures. I've struggled a lot with anger in the past and eventually found a therapist that drilled this whole 'what's behind the anger though?' approach into my brain. To my chagrin, I implemented this and I'm less angry now.

Hope you find some relief soon. Is there anyone in your life you can lean on a bit right now? Sometimes that helps with the overwhelmed, 'this is all way too much' feeling.
posted by coffeeand at 9:14 AM on December 10, 2020

People are terrible sometimes, but it's really our governments, capitalism, etc, that failed to deal with the pandemic. Ordinary people did not do this, no matter how infuriating their behavior may be.
It's been incredibly helpful for me to keep this in mind. People can be terrible, but most of us are doing the best we can.

I've noticed in my circle of friends that some of them seem to be processing Covid anxiety/trauma through a sort of rigid, controlling attitude towards people they view as 'failing' the restrictions.
This is an incredibly helpful and insightful lens. It's much easier to blame the person not wearing the mask at the grocery store rather than the abstract but very really government inconsistency with messaging and response. And, it's much easier to be angry at your neighbor than to question the system, which has failed us, in the US at least.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:29 AM on December 10, 2020

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