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Recovery Fatigue and the Disaster Lady 2.0

By April 2, 2020 April 6th, 2020 Ask the Disaster Lady, Blog

Hey folks! This has been quite a week. New COVID scams from hackers saying they have the cure to Dr. Fauci. Researchers announcing they are puzzled and don’t know why some folks get sick, while others just have mild symptoms.  All of this while we are all working from home and afraid to turn on the television. Except for Netflix because we can “chill” and we HAVE to pass the time between episodes of Tiger King…

Speaking of time, it’s about that time during a disaster where many of us will start to experience what is called “Recovery Fatigue”.  It happens during long-term disasters like pandemics and can go on for months while we work to establish our new normal.

A lot of things happen with Recovery Fatigue, but first, let’s talk about how it occurs and how to spot it.  When a disaster happens, adrenaline helps us get through the immediate aftermath. This is based upon our genetic makeup from millions of years ago. We frantically ran from the woolly mammoths and were regularly on the “go” from other predators.  Our adrenaline levels fluctuate to various levels, but generally, you will feel a sense of being “on” a good portion of the time.

You will have more energy to change how you work, handle your home and kids, and may even have some energy to do some of those things that you have been putting off. Like me where I voluntold my husband and son to help me establish my home office that I have put off since we moved into our new house three years ago. (Hey, I might as well take advantage of their adrenaline too.) However, as Monday hit my energy and overall mood took a nosedive and I just wanted to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head (even though I KNEW what to look for!)

Recovery Fatigue is the little b*tch to disaster recovery response.  It’s like the bad ex who you run into at the grocery store when you look your worst, they look their best, and they suddenly want to have a 30-minute chat about the good ‘ol days. Like that ex, Recovery Fatigue catches many of us off guard and it can seem like an eternity before it goes away.

To spot Recovery Fatigue, I normally look for people displaying anger at the situation or people that perceive others as having it “so good” during a disaster. The people that fight over the last square of toilet paper like they’re Brad Pitt in Fight Club.  It can also include people who started off following the virus precaution guidelines but now flagrantly ignore them because “they are just going to get it anyway so they might as well live it up while they can,” to depression and overall lethargy. For my psychologically savvy friends out there, have you picked up on what is really going on here yet? If not, let me help. Recovery Fatigue is brought on by people experiencing the 5 Stages of Grief.  Getting to your New Normal – that’s acceptance.

Some people will ask if it is really grief or just extended inconvenience for most of us.  I say that any disaster is a tragic event and this one is no different.  This whole situation has upended everyone’s lives.  It will not just change our lives for the next three months until the quarantine is lifted, but it will change our lives forever.  We will never take for granted the person who coughs or sneezes in a public place again. We will certainly never take for granted readily available hand sanitizer, gloves, toilet paper, and freely traveling the globe again. In short, we are in an adjustment period.

Now, to end on a positive note.  The Disaster Lady is getting an upgrade to 2.0 and I do not mean that I am getting plastic surgery.  It means that the response to this blog has been so significant that we have decided to put together a website and toll-free hotline for people.  It will be released on Monday, 4/6.  I cannot believe how wonderful my staff have been in helping to get this pulled together to help so many folks in need.  It really is a labor of love!

Until then, please send me your questions via Facebook or LinkedIn and stay safe!- The Disaster Lady