Like many Americans, Marsha Delgado endured two difficult years.
The 50-year-old watched vulnerable patients at her Santa Ana radiology clinic struggle to recover from lung damage caused by COVID-19. She faced patients who would not wear face masks. And she hasn’t attended a family reunion in months because some relatives refused to be tested for the virus while she was being treated for metastatic breast cancer.
As case rates began to drop, her stress eventually began to ebb. Then, this week, Russia invaded Ukraine.
“I’ve seen the ugly side of humanity in recent years,” Delgado said. “It’s extremely frustrating. We are tired. The world is tired. We are tired of fighting.
With COVID-19 cases declining and vaccination rates increasing, life soon seemed to return to normal. That thread of hope was shattered on Wednesday night when Russian troops attacked Ukraine, raising fears of a global conflict.
A war in Eastern Europe and a looming humanitarian crisis have sparked new waves of anxiety and depression among Americans who have spent two years trying to survive a period of unprecedented instability, including a global health crisis. , a recession, political conflict, rising inflation and a lack of stable childcare.
Pain, sadness and confusion swept across social media on Wednesday and Thursday, with people expressing shock and frustration at the ongoing crisis and growing death toll. Many said they felt powerless to help.
Some said they feared for the safety of loved ones stranded in Ukraine. Others wondered if the conflict, 10,000 miles from California, could reach the United States, then expressed guilt at worrying for themselves or their families as Ukrainians fled the country and took refuge in metro stations to avoid Russian airstrikes.
Others have turned to dark humor as a coping mechanism.
“I’m just making potatoes as fear pours in from all sides,” wrote John Green, the best-selling author of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, in the caption of a cooking video he posted on TikTok Thursday noon.
Imagine being an antidepressant pill, said a tweet: You were designed to adjust chemical imbalances in the brain, but now you are being asked to “cope with an endless pandemic, economic recessions, a spiraling political climate, and now World War III.”
Lawrence Palinkas, a USC professor who studies mental health, noted that “as individuals, we may be able to cope with any of these events. Having to manage them all simultaneously proves overwhelming for many people.
Covering the assault could be particularly difficult for American residents who came to the country after fleeing conflicts in other countries, Palinkas said: “We have refugees from Syria, East Africa , from Central America, even dating back to the Vietnam War, who are likely to relive the kinds of trauma they endured before coming to the United States.
Susana Sanchez, 51, of Santa Ana hasn’t been the same since the pandemic began. Her husband lost his job as a restaurant cook and she nearly died of pneumonia after falling ill with COVID-19. After so much fear and trauma, she said, she was depressed.
She began to feel better as the new cases decreased. Then she became aware of the situation in Ukraine. The fear of the unknown resurfaces. His mind began to race. She spent most of Wednesday night on her phone in bed, checking for updates. She woke up shaking on Thursday, terrified of a world war.
In a regular session that morning, her therapist told her, “You can’t stress or be afraid of something you have no control over.”
There was a time during pandemic shutdowns when people could ponder how society could be better, including better work-life balance and shorter work weeks, said Chris Giaco, owner of the Page Against the Machine bookstore in Long Beach.
The feeling of calm didn’t last long enough, he said: “It feels like a constant stew of chaos. We cannot have space to think about things.
Kitty Hall, 72, said she, like everyone else, had been comforted by the thought that the pandemic was coming to an end. Now she’s watching gas and grocery prices rise and said she doesn’t trust the Biden administration to deal with the crisis.
“It’s depressing,” Hall said. “It’s hard to find the words.”
Will the United States send more troops overseas? Will the country be attacked? Will we see a nuclear war? Everything is upsetting and frightening, she says.
“I let my emotions run wild,” she said. “It’s something that many of us have never experienced, ever.”
Los Angeles Times