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  • Writer's pictureDr Heather Dyson

"Stop Moaning" you're only in a pandemic.

About a week ago, of KPMG Chairman, Bill Michael told his staff to stop "playing the victim card" when complaining about the impact of the pandemic on their lives (a quick search on YouTube will show you his entire speech). He has since resigned over the comments he made, and seemingly understands the hurt that he has unintentionally caused. It would be very easy to vilify this individual, however I wish to take a more compassionate stance.

There may well be a lot of individuals out there who agree with the comments that Mr Michael said. That should be we be complaining when we're not actually sick, and when we have job security? However Mr Michael has appeared to forgotten an extremely important fact, that we are indeed still in the middle of a pandemic which has fundamentally altered society and will have a lasting impact on us all (will any of us ever have fewer than a dozen loo rolls in our homes again?).

I imagine that there are many people out there who are fed up of hearing about the pandemic, so how about we try and reframe it. What we are going through is a collective traumatisation. Collective trauma is a cataclysmic event that shatters the basic fabric of society. Aside from the horrific loss of life (around 117k in the UK, 2.4million worldwide), collective trauma is also a crisis of meaning. Many of us our finding ourselves in constant negotiation with both ourselves and society at large. Who am I in the midst of this pandemic? On top of this increase in existential anxiety, many of us have found that our usual coping strategies are denied to us and in some cases, even considered a criminal activity.

So yes, we can be grateful that we are healthy, but that doesn't mean that we haven't been, and continue to be, impacted by the pandemic. We wouldn't be telling individuals in a refugee camp to stop "playing the victim care" because their no longer in a war zone, so why are we telling ourselves that?

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