Adult female covered in a blanket is watching a tv show on her laptop and finding comfort in it. Relaxation, television, video streaming. POC

Explaining TSW with This Is Us

The arts have a way of making difficult subjects easily digestible. As difficult as it is to see our new normal up close in TV and movies, this is my attempt to explain TSW with the help of the famous TV show This Is Us and the pandemic.

COVID and This is Us

Over the past few nights, I’ve been camping on Hulu, catching up on This Is Us. Don’t worry; there are no spoilers. We are in the pandemic, and as we go from episode to episode, we slowly start seeing how each character deals with the jarring reality of COVID. Of course, I can’t help but see how this all seamlessly aligns with the lives of those of us with TSW.

Reflecting the realities of COVID

We see each character just as we’ve seen our friends and family cope with the pandemic - keeping our hands and minds busy, binge eating, acting like everything is fine and will blow over in no time, being cautious, taking the CDC’s guidelines and seamlessly integrating them into our daily lives. We then see exactly what we’re still living through now - lay-offs, businesses closing doors, social distancing. For some characters, their professional lives are disrupted, so finances are at the forefront of their minds. For some, it’s their social lives, love life, and daily routine. Though the imminent threat of COVID is at hand, the characters still have their health. Each character deals with the harsh realities of the pandemic alongside the rest of the world over the span of weeks and months. The mental and emotional struggle is very real, and you see that with each character’s story.

The reality of a TSW warrior

What I can’t help but see on the screen is the reality of a TSW warrior. In TSW, there’s no giving two weeks’ notice, there’s no grace period to adjust to the freezing cold temps. At least with the pandemic, it hit the world at different times, so though many of us observed through our screens and some even questioned if it was real, at least there was a warning. People got to adjust to social distancing and self-isolation. Your employers scrambled to figure out how employees could now work from home. Some started a new side hustle - yes all during the craziness of the pandemic, but at least with the majority of their health.

Life comes to a halt

With TSW, your entire life - from personal relationships to professional, all social obligations, love life, classes, future plans - to your daily routine all come to an abrupt halt in a matter of days. Days. A handful of days can’t be considered an adjustment period. Not when your entire life is shelved and now even the small daily tasks like using the restroom or eating a meal become an arduous task. And the worst bit of it all is that this is done entirely alone. Yes, many warriors are lucky enough to have a family to lean on, but the physical ailments of the illness itself is a unique hell for the patient alone.

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Hopefully, this helps non-TSW sufferers begin to understand just how devastating this condition is. And let’s hope that this is just the beginning of a long conversation about the social programs that need to be in place to help TSW warriors assimilate back into the real world.

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