“Doubled the cases of depression” … “coming wave of mental illnesses”…
I wonder what these headlines mean. Is this really happening? Does a virus that causes a so severe respiratory distress which is taking millions of people’s breath away all over the world has also the power to cause depression? I wanted to try and think a little differently.
Surely the Coronavirus has an effect on people’s lives, on their emotions, their thoughts, their affections, on that deeper reality that we can call “mental reality” of people. But not in a direct way as if it were one of the symptoms of the virus. What can make people sick to depression is something else.
The virus has overwhelmed our lives, as well as the prevention and security measures put in place to contain it especially in the first lockdown.
Can we start looking at the subversion of the early months of the pandemic in a different way?
It has definitely been something surprising: our days were no longer the same as before, no longer marked by previous rhythms, by doing things, by moving from one side of the city to the other. What was the life we were used to, which perhaps we also took a bit for granted, inevitable, has set aside to leave room to something new: an opportunity? A possibility of change?
Being steady with our bodies, maybe made us move more with our thoughts. Like never before, people questioned themselves seriously, personally, intimately, about the environment, about a sustainable relationship between man and nature, about lifestyles. We talked about the priorities of society, putting people’s lives first or the economy. We talked about culture and art and how they represent us as human beings. We questionned what school is for a modern society. We wondered on the meaning of the history of human events. We wondered what globalization is and what it can allow us to do. Above all, we wondered what it meant to be together, what really tied us to others. Ideas came up in order to continue to be together in a safe and respectful way of life.
The movement of thought has been the biggest change.
Opposing to the disease and refusing that human beings die of disease has always allowed men to move, think, work, engage, start a research to find out how not to let people die. This, too, triggered the movement of thought we were talking about before and that we can say has been global, of all men on earth.
To date, however, how much of these “movements” is left? How did many people react to the emergency of all these new things, new possibilities?
What is called negationism reigns supreme. Public health restrictions to protect our lives from the virus are criticized as being right-wing or left-wing political opinions. More and more often, medicine is deeply denied when the fight is against the cure of a disease and not the disease itself. Denying the cure is like denying the disease, because it means thinking that condition a destiny that cannot be modified. And this paralyzes all those possibilities that we started to see. It makes turn back. It erases the new.
But this denial wasn’t just about the disease.
During the summer of 2020, before which we managed to drastically reduce the numbers of infections, the new ways of being together that had just been born were forgotten, the priority given to the respect for life was set aside, we were then back together but only to share a space.
The denial turned not only towards that something new but negative which is the disease, it also turned towards all the other novelties. This dynamic of negation, of reversal, until the disappearance, has been generated against the emergence of the new and this is a pathological dynamic, which hurts those who make it, and hurts those who experience it.
So what is it that can make you feel bad and cause depression? Perhaps this step back hurt people’s minds more than the fear of the virus or the quarantine, a step back which removed the oxygen to live those possibilities that had been intuited and that have not materialized. If reality disappointed us because it put a strain on intuitions, our hopes of change, you can feel bad, you can feel depressed, without strength, you stop thinking you can be different and see a different world.
However, we can still try… we can resist, we can finish the year and start 2021 with a new step. We can keep thinking and wondering about this extraordinary year together here on Papillon for example, after all this blog was born for this reason.
This year the classic social obligations of Christmas are suspended, lunches and endless dinners are avoidable, relatives who we see once a year at grandma’s place must stay at home, it will be possible to escape from the uncomfortable questions of uncles “and how are you doing at school?” “and the boyfriend?” “and when are you getting married?” , we can stop exchange “the bathroom set” bought back in 1999 and recycled at every party among all cousins. There will be no such things, maybe we will miss this but we can take back that movement of thought started in March, give it oxygen, give it a shape and make it become concrete and no longer erasable! We can start again, for example, from an idea of equality that made us “react” in the far first lockdown with new ideas: the virus indeed affected and affects all of us, without any distinction of culture, country, gender, wealth, age. Well… another thing that we all have always had in common is the human birth which sets us apart as human race. At Christmas, or the Festival of Sun, we celebrate the birth. Therefore we can be born again and continue to think!
Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article