The Covid-19 Survivor’s Guilt | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 10, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:14 AM, June 10, 2021

The Covid-19 Survivor’s Guilt

The world is in its second year of the pandemic that sent everyone running behind closed doors and surgical masks. The second wave of the wily and constantly evolving virus continues to wreak havoc, taking lives and infecting the masses.

In the short time it has been studied and scrutinised, it seems that the one most predictable thing about it is its blatant unpredictability. In certain cases, post-Covid syndromes turn out to be deadlier than the initial infection. Yet, barely even a quarter of the precautions we should be taking is being followed in proper seriousness. Along with the endless side effects of having infected by the virus, is the emotional toil it takes on individuals. Anxiety, fear, grief and guilt haunts many survivors for much longer than the period the virus stays in their systems.

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Most people who have lost family members, friends or relatives to the virus but survived it themselves, often fall into the obsessive clutches of survivor's guilt. This less-talked about, yet equally harrowing facet of post-covid syndrome transpires when the person experiencing it believes they are either the cause of their loved ones' demise, or that they are unworthy of living while their loved ones have passed. Sometimes, it's both.

Some feel undeserving of the medical care they have received or their sheer luck when it came to surviving the virus, while many unfortunate people did not. Some people also feel guilty because of the resources and extra care their privileges have often afforded them. This gives way to incessant scenarios where individuals find themselves to blame for either unwittingly transmitting the virus due to carelessness, and feelings of self-reprehension for surviving an illness that innumerable people could not.

Especially, given that the acute rise in the number of infected people in the past several months was followed by a blatant disregard for any and all precautions as the majority of the youth of our country showed monumental indifference to the severity of the virus earlier this year, and chose to mingle freely, embarked on trips out of town, and neglected most of the safeguards that had painstakingly taken place just the year before. This lapse in judgement has likely contributed to the deaths of countless elderly family members, which can undoubtedly lead to profound survivor's guilt.

This guilt may lead to manifesting physical symptoms such as sleep disorders, heightened anxiety which affects appetite, depressive thoughts that may induce a severe lack of motivation, therefore causing inactivity and stagnation. All this in turn makes the body more susceptible to illnesses, which could cause further serious health complications for those who are still in recovery. And recovery from Covid-19 lasts months, if not years. For those who have personally witnessed the quick and unsuspecting spiral of death via Covid may even be scarred with PTSD in some extreme cases due to the rapid way in which the virus temperamentally takes lives.   The mental toil, the emotional lacerations, and exhaustion it triggers may prove to be much more detrimental than the physical symptoms it leaves behind. The deteriorating mental health implications of Covid-19 is already proving to be the next battle we face.

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