July 21, 2020 — With coronavirus cases surging under California’s reopening plan, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently ordered certain sectors, including bars, indoor dining, theaters, and bowling alleys, to close again. Online, crisis fatigue erupted. Residents vented long-simmering frustrations, casting blame on the governor and on each other.
Half a year into the coronavirus pandemic, mental health experts worry that many Americans have reached a point of becoming emotionally overwhelmed.
Anger, frustration, disappointment, and hopelessness have flared across the nation. In California, people took to social media to express their feelings. Some even pushed for recalling Newsom.
“The dictator continues on his path of destruction,” David Wohl tweeted about the governor.
Others pushed back at perceived scofflaws.
The effort to recall the governor, according to Twitter user Nancy Lee Grahn, “is from the same selfish incredibly stupid bunch who just had to brunch, beach, bar maskless & spread their infected droplets all over the state. You did this & now you’re mad? Tough luck, jerks. The Gov is correct & protecting ur undeserving a–, so stop whining.”
It’s Natural to Feel Anxiety and Grief
It’s not only the pandemic. Americans are facing economic distress and racial injustice, too. “Most of us are equipped to manage one crisis or maybe a couple of crises simultaneously,” says Arianna Galligher, associate director of Ohio State University’s Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program, which treats people who have psychological trauma. “But when everything is sort of coming to a head all at once, there comes a point where our typical means of coping becomes overwhelmed, and the result is crisis fatigue.”
While crisis fatigue is not an official diagnosis, its effects are real. People can feel so overwhelmed that they’re unsure of how to move forward, she says.
When people have crisis fatigue, it’s natural for them to feel a mixture of exhaustion, rage, disgust, despair, desperation, hypervigilance, anxiety, and grief, according to Galligher.
As the crises have worn on, not only have tempers frayed, but many people feel less energetic and motivated, says Karestan Ko