Covid-19 Trauma: Long-haulers

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) defines trauma-

“an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative, 2012, p. 2

Some people may wonder, is Covid-19 Pandemic trauma? Could it have lasting impact on me or my loved ones?

The answer is yes, for some it will be, if it has lasting negative effects on the person or their wellbeing. That is what we know. What we don’t know is who, how, and how much.

For some, their Covid-19 trauma is here in the form of being a long hauler.*

A long-hauler is someone whose Covid-19 symptoms go on longer than 28 days. Many continue to experience ongoing symptoms.

Adjusting to a chronic illness and disability of a condition for which few treatments exist will be just one of many challenges. If you or someone you know is a long hauler, they may find help from the collective wisdom of others with lived experience. Peer support, education, empathy and management of symptoms can help one adjust.

Many long haulers are turning to Body Politic for those three things. It is

a global network of COVID19 patients, chronic illness allies, and health and disability advocates, Body Politic breaks down barriers to patient-driven whole-person care and well-being, particularly for historically marginalized communities by facilitating peer-support, cultivating patient-led research and public education, and leading community-based advocacy.

Their resource page includes recorded webinars for handling the fatigue and cognitive issues, info on their private support group.

Click here to go to the Body Politic Resource website page.

As a person whose disability can overtake my life during flare ups, I feel for long-haulers. Learning to accept one’s limitations is difficult. Some well-meaning people share pithy platitudes and think it is support. Yes, a positive mindset can help get you through the day. However, most of us need more than a smile to face what our days might hold.

Some find identifying the feelings that pop up and managing them as needed to be a coping strategy. Sometimes people need others to help them with this, such as a family member, peer or professional. Others process theirs using mindfulness and letting the big feelings pass through.

If you haven’t yet learned about processing stress, please listen to Brene Brown and the Nagoski sisters break it down. Click here for the podcast

Episode attribution
Brown, B. (Host). (2020, October 14). Brené with Emily and Amelia Nagoski on Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Cadence13.

There are many other ways the Covid-19 Pandemic has and will cause trauma-homelessness, unemployment, social isolation, parenting burnout, professional burnout, compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, coupled with social inequities of the Pandemic, etc. Please seek help for yourself as needed. Here are a few resources.

Youth ERA
Empowering youth through virtual drop-in centers, and peer support via Switch and text

Youth Line
24/7 help for youth
CALL 877-968-8491  TEXT ‘teen2teen’ to 839863

The Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth

Reach Out Oregon
1-833-REACH-OR or 1-833-732-2467

Lines for Life
“However you experience a crisis, it is always OK to ask for help”
800-273-8255 Suicide Lifeline
Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155 TEXT your zip code to 898211 (TXT211)
Email: [email protected]

Oregon Family to Family Health Information Center

Are you interested in trauma training for your organization or want to understand its impacts on you? Click here to contact me.