There have been thousands of gifs and memes joking about social distancing and self-quarantine/isolation. Most know me as a very social person...I love to meet friends for coffee and catch up, occasionally "get outta Dodge" for the weekend, shop at my favorite stores. But I've also created a haven here in my home...I love to cook, love to enjoy the fantastic view of the mountains and valley from my back deck. Like I've said before, I'm the most "extroverted introvert" I know! So at first, I was thinking: "C'mon, Carol...how bad can this be?"
Jokes aside, the mind can be a beautiful...or a terrible thing. When this outbreak first began and was confined to a closed-door office, I thought "Maybe now I can finally get some work done!" Days went by, and it wasn't too bad. I did get a lot of work done. A few weeks go by and I've realized just how much I interact with the crews on a daily basis and how frustrating it is to have limited, direct communication and limited visibility on station ops. Now it's been over a month, and as I look back and the ups and downs of my mental state, it told me a lot about how my mind works, to the point of thinking: "Ok, Carol...how bad can this get?
There was an incident here in Riverton, Wyoming on April 15 that was made public through our local media. I sat listening to the dispatch radio, worried about the crews on-scene. I know that it was just another "day in the life" for them, as they're always called to shootings, stabbings, assaults, domestic violence situations, etc. But now, with situations intensified in correlation to this outbreak, my worry for them that day increased to a certain level of fear.
For personal reasons, I rarely talk about the subject of the crimes of abuse and domestic violence, but I feel it appropriate now. In my past Lives, as a survivor of domestic violence, I had been diagnosed with clinical Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and PTSD. I've attempted suicide, twice. On top of that, I had crippling Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which was devastating for me as a pianist. I've had several surgeries throughout my life. So to say the very least, my mind has not always been a "beautiful thing".
In my Third Life, I've promised myself that I would learn from my History Lessons and listen to the wisdom gained from the previous Two. Judging from my experiences alone...if the rate of abuse and violence was high even before this outbreak, it is - and will be - even more intensified now.
Our police officers, EMTs, firefighters, First Responders...all have a very great burden on them. They may or may not have known the extent of it when they signed up for the job, but nevertheless, they take every 911 call seriously because (believe me!) they never know what they're going to see, find or witness when they arrive on-scene.
I believe that this outbreak is revealing the best and worst of human behaviors and mentalities. The beautiful and terrible minds. Today, if I was in a situation with an abuser, I would find a way to escape and call 911 immediately if it were physical abuse; I would call a domestic violence hotline if it were prolonged mental/emotional/verbal abuse.
There are programs and resources available in every community. Looking back, I wish I would have thought about my own self-worth and actually used those resources. But I would always end up thinking: "It's all my fault...he's just tired...I should've done what he said...but I 'love' him...I can't make it on my own..." Stockholm Syndrome-type thoughts that were short-circuited by a weary, abused, depressed and poisoned mind. At the very least, I needed to have a safe place to go and figure it all out later. I needed to have a friend who was aware of my situation and would be there to help me if it ever got to the point where my life was at risk.
COVID-19 is doing its thing; humans are doing theirs. This past month has been a challenge, even for this single lady! How we interact with our family, friends, loved ones, employers and co-workers ultimately shows how we truly are as human beings. We need to help, not hurt...but if you've been hurt, get to a safe place and call those who are there to help:
CDC: Daily Life Coping
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Child Advocacy Centers of Wyoming
Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Call 911 when...
- When you "feel" a situation is escalating. If you are fearing for your life, call. Immediately.
- You've been physically assaulted/injured. If you can't, tell someone to do it. Immediately.
- If you are witnessing the abuse. Call anonymously if you need to, but call. Immediately.
It is better to try to escape an abuser or domestic violence situation and call 911 than to fight back. If you fight back, you may become a part of a situation that only gets more complicated. You could die...or you could go to jail, right along with your perpetrator. Remember, First Responders aren't there to determine guilt or innocence; they're there to do their jobs and report what is happening, on-scene.