When I Talk About the Pandemic, I am Ghosted

I’ve been posting about the dangers of long covid, and the fact that the pandemic continues to disable and kill thousands of people each day.

People get awkward about it. They leave me on read, they stop engaging, and I feel like I am speaking to the void.

I know it makes people uncomfortable, because we’re in the era of the great forgetting. We want to forget that the world ever saw covid disrupt our lives, and the trauma and uncertainty during those “unprecedented times.”

It might be easier to imagine that we are safe and can go about our lives without masks and without caution than to accept the opposite. Yet, even common sense tells us that ignoring something doesn’t make it go away.

I know it makes people uncomfortable, because we’re in the era of the great forgetting. Yet, even common sense tells us that ignoring something doesn’t make it go away.

Our leaders tell us to go back to work with masks optional, even though the virus has mutated to become more infectious and more deadly in some variants. Not only do we humor them, we believe them. The child cries out, the emperor has no clothes, but everybody ignores her and says she’s crazy, it must be a trick of the light.

But aren’t pediatric ICU’s overflowing with children struggling to breathe right now? CDC data says that infants are getting hospitalized with RSV at a 7 times higher rate than in 2018, so why isn’t this declared as an emergency? Infants are one of the most vulnerable populations because they can’t advocate for themselves, so who is showing up for them?

Schools are half-empty because adults have let the disease burden fall onto their children. Children who don’t have the power to write policies, but are the victims of them. As their caretakers and guardians, we have failed to protect them.

Covid infections and reinfections wear down our immune systems and increase the risk of death and health complications. It’s no coincidence that this year, after the masks came off, we’re already seeing a flu season worse than the last thirteen seasons with record-high hospitalizations. We haven’t even hit the winter holidays yet, are we prepared for the next 4-6 weeks?

Influenza season comparison of 2022-23 and previous 5 seasons from Johns Hopkins Medicine. The number of positive tests this year has spiked earlier and much steeper than in previous flu seasons.

Immunity debt is a myth. You know, if people didn’t actually believe it, it would be a silly story. Suddenly, for those who refused to wear a mask, their masks worked so well that they became sicker as a result?

Vaccines are meant to be a last line of defense if the virus makes it into our systems, not the only protection we have. They’re no substitute for masks, distancing, and air purifiers. Scientists are still studying what covid does to the body, and so far, it does not look good.

Scientists are still studying what covid does to the body, and so far, it does not look good.

Do people know what hit them? When they seemingly recover, but drop dead months or years later from “unknown” causes? We’re seeing strokes and cardiac failure in “healthy” individuals, an alarming incidence of blood clotting, and organ failure.

A chart showing the disability from various diseases measured as a reduction in functioning scores in SF-36, created by @m.e_and_more. The combined disability of ME/CFS is higher than lung disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart disease, limited use of arm(s)/leg(s), back pain/sciatics.

Are people aware of the quality of life in long covid or ME/CFS? Have they heard of it described as a “living death,” or being buried alive? Have they heard of the #MillionsMissing with no cure, only symptom management? Do they know that an estimated 1 in 5 people winds up with long covid, and it could very well be them?

Is the short-term boost of the economy worth it, when the working class works themselves sick and out of a job? We are treating human labor as expendable as our natural resources. Did it hurt when you realized our leaders downplayed covid to be a “mild” disease as a ploy to get us back to work and wash their hands of liability from any resulting health complications?

Do people know that the CDC covid transmission maps were silently changed to look an optimistic shade of green, when in fact, if we used the same scale as we did in 2020, this country would be covered in red?

Do they know?

…or do they just not care?

Often, I think if only they knew, people wouldn’t be so prone to this dangerous cultural amnesia.

Because in 2020, we saw people preaching community care, showing love for their elderly/sick neighbors, and calling for racial justice.

Masking is the black square of the pandemic: virtue signaling without full commitment to allyship.

Was it only for show, then, when it was trendy to wear a mask, and dropped just as quickly? How many people posted black squares to benefit themselves individually? Masking is the black square of the pandemic: virtue signaling without full commitment to allyship.

Wouldn’t you think that people in the public health professions would be more guided by the values of health equity and protecting the most vulnerable? Shouldn’t we expect both critical thinking and more empathy from my peers, graduate students at the “top” school of public health in the world? I mean, so much for our motto of “saving lives, millions at a time,” if we can’t even prevent deaths by masking.

I tend to assume the best in people, but my faith in them is proven wrong every day. It seems that they truly might not care, as long as they are not immediately affected. Personal sacrifices are simply not worth the lives of youth, elders, disabled, immunocompromised, working-class BIPOC and people of the global majority.

Even if I were not disabled/chronically ill, I don’t think I could live with the cognitive dissonance of being an abled leftist who abandoned disabled solidarity.

For those of you who unmask for your “mental health,” don’t you know that covid prevention is suicide prevention? Have you considered the mental health of those who do not have the privilege of gambling their remaining health with a virus, and who watch as you value your restaurant meals and parties more than their very lives? What do you have to say to the folx in jails and prisons who do not have the luxury of avoiding covid transmission and medical neglect?

People look at me like I’m paranoid and hypochondriacal when I say these things; they don’t hear the frustrated love behind my words. Somehow, I am in the wrong for being a killjoy, but if pretending really made things better (hint: it doesn’t), I would play along.

Due to social gaslighting, I find myself asking my online community for reality checks. Am I hallucinating everything — the whole history of the pandemic, the peer-reviewed journal articles, the transmission data, the need for masks — or are things more terrifying than what the public can accept? Because when we are living in such different perceived realities, it gets trippy.

I am concerned about our survival, and nobody is coming to save us. Especially for those of us who live on the margins, with our backs against the wall, we need to learn how to treat one another with care.

I write this with so many questions on my heart, because I am concerned about our survival, and nobody is coming to save us. Especially for those of us who live on the margins, with our backs against the wall, we need to learn how to treat one another with care.

I would urge you to act before it’s too late, but it is already too late. We’ve lost too many. Each preventable death is one too many, and with every passing day of indifference, I am losing my patience in waiting out the pandemic. But I guess I have no other choice.

If you made it to the end of this piece, what will you do? Please — don’t be like the others, who have ghosted me and abandoned millions of people in radio silence. We need all of each other to get through this.

Photo by Adrian Dascal

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9 thoughts on “When I Talk About the Pandemic, I am Ghosted

  1. lynnbalderston3361 says:

    I am treated exactly the same way as you and see what you do as well. It is a very sad state of affairs to see so much ignorance, denial, and lack of care. I must live and behave how I see fit based on the knowledge, evidence, and trends I see as well. It may make us in the minority but I will hold fast and protect my life to the best of my ability.

    Liked by 1 person

      • lynnbalderston3361 says:

        I really appreciate your well thought out stance on covid along with the sources and evidence you provided. I am a nurse and a recent breast cancer survivor and I’m very high risk for covid. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue back in the early 90s while I was at University. It stopped my life in it’s tracks for over a year and I had to drop classes and drop my work hours because I was sleeping anywhere from 18 to 22 hours a day. I was in excellent physical shape and all of 22 years old. I did recover finally but I did not return back to quite the physical ability level I had previously enjoyed though it was close. Then I was diagnosed in my early 30s with Hereditary Peripheral Neuropathy which unfortunately eventually traveled to my hands and cut my nursing career short at 40 years old. I had plans to become a nurse practitioner and that dream was gone. I then was diagnosed with fibromyalgia too. I know what it’s like to live with chronic, disabling, life-altering health conditions for which there is little to no treatment and how it turns you into a person who has to give everything you have to just exist.. and there is absolutely no life or joy in that existence. I am extremely lucky as I decided to forge my own path in 2017 to return my health to as optimal status as I possibly achieve on my own by bucking the medical training I received and looking out of the Western medical practice that only focuses on pharmaceuticals for treatment. I did not make friends needless to say in the healthcare field by taking this path but I knew at 47 years old it wasy only other option. I started looking at case studies regarding nutritional deficiencies, changing my way of eating drastically to a more anti-inflammatory way of eating along with being low carb, I started looking into functional and alternative medicine practices, and also took on the huge challenge of addressing the depression and anxiety I suffered with as well utilizing a more food as medicine/nutritional supplement approach for which I have experienced fantastically unbelievable benefits. Those same providers who ostracized me in the past now when they see me are absolutely amazed by my transformation. Therefore, I know and see the long-term consequences and have researched long haul covid enough to know that I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. People just do not understand how much risk there is involved with COVID, how very little is truly known, and that we do not know the long term repercussions at all. Thank you so much for validating my own opinion and research in this and being that voice screaming in seemingly darkness. I don’t feel quite so alone or as such a minority at the moment after having read it. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Melissa Hansson says:

    I’m having the same experience in Portland, Oregon, trying to live a worthwhile life in relative isolation while my peers meet up in bars & restaurants, travel and throw parties. I update Facebook with covid news & no one acknowledges. I post pictures of Christmas decor and get scores of likes & replies. It’s demoralizing. But we’re not crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

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