BEIJING – June was supposed to be a time of victory for Shanghai. After a two-month blockade, authorities announced that they had taken control of the recent spread of the coronavirus in the city. Businesses and restaurants have finally opened. State-run media called for a return to normalcy, and on the first night of the release, people took to the streets shouting “Freedom!” they were shouting.
Julie Geng, a 25-year-old investment analyst in the city, could not join the organization. “I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate here,” he said. He spent part of April in a centralized quarantine facility, and after passing a positive test, the feeling of weakness was still fresh.
“I think there is no basic guarantee in life and it can change one day,” he said. “It made me feel so tender.”
The blockade has left Shanghai in chaos and suffering. Residents whose homes were sealed could not afford to buy food, refused medical care, or lost their children. Social networks were filled with their anger and despair. Now the worst seems to be over. But in this city of 25 million people, many are beginning to rethink what they have hardened, what they have lost, and what they expect from the future.
Some residents are still protesting against the violation of their traditional rights: to buy food and to live privately in their own homes. Some are tragic relationships broken under the stress of the blockade. Many people worry about weeks without pay or whether their business will survive.
Sticking to all of this is a failure to completely postpone the test, as China still aims to eradicate the virus. Authorities recently announced that every district of the city will be closed for a short period of time every weekend until the end of July for mass testing.
“We see many signs of post-traumatic stress, but many people may not recognize them,” said Shanghai psychologist Chen Zhejun. Some people had chest pains or were unable to focus on work, he said.
“How do you get out of this broken faith and rebuild it so that you can feel stable and secure again?”
Health workers around the world have warned of the pandemic’s impact on mental well-being. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression increased by 25 percent in the first year of the global epidemic.
However, China’s anti-epidemic control is particularly limited, as locked residents are physically sealed in their homes and sometimes unable to access emergency medical care. Prescriptions, including those related to mental health, were left blank. People infected with the virus were rushed to hospitals, some of which had no rain or light at all hours.
The apparent arbitrariness of the policy of acceptance or dismissal created a sense of weakness; Some people were sent to facilities in the middle of the night, or were unable to leave despite negative testing. Others said officials entered their homes with disinfectants and damaged their homes.
Ms. Investment analyst Geng was hospitalized immediately after a positive test. He declined to be diagnosed with a mood disorder, he said; Eventually, officials sent him to a quarantine hotel instead. Still, he shuddered at the thought.
“People who pass a positive test are dehumanized and treated like animals,” he said.
During the blockade, calls to Shanghai’s mental health phones increased. Requests from the city for psychological advice, in the search engine Baidu, more than three times as much as a year ago. A survey of city dwellers found that 40 percent were at risk for depression. At the end of April, when restrictions were eased in some areas, more than 1,000 people lined up in front of the Shanghai Mental Health Center.
At a government news conference in May, Chen Jun, chief physician at the Shanghai Mental Health Center, said the prolonged blockade would inevitably lead to anxiety, fear and depression. For most people, the feelings are temporary, he said.
But other experts warn that its effects will be long-lasting. An editorial in the medical journal The Lancet this month said the “shadows of mental illness” would remain in Chinese culture and economy “for years to come.” He continued: “The Chinese government must take immediate action to heal the wounds caused by its extremist policies.”
A recent survey by psychologist Xu Xinyu revealed the long-term consequences of the detention policy.
When the pandemic started two years ago, she said. Sue, a volunteer on the national counseling phone, said many callers feared the virus itself. But recent calls from Shanghai are more concerned about the secondary consequences of Chinese oversight – young professionals whose parents are worried about the consequences of prolonged online training or who are afraid to repay their mortgages after Shanghai’s job market collapses.
Others saw that money could not provide them with comfort or security, and asked why they worked so hard in the first place. They are now saving less and spending more on food and other material items that will bring a sense of security, Ms. Sue said.
“The money has lost its original value,” he said. “It changed the way they always thought and made them lose a little bit.”
Blocking has also changed interpersonal relationships. According to Shanghai’s policy, only one confirmed incident can lead to tight control of an entire building or neighborhood. Some affected residents said they were embarrassed by the conversations of groups in the housing estates.
Prior to the injury, Sandy Bai, 48, considered her neighbor a friend. When one was short, they exchanged eggs and asked each other’s parents. But a day after the city closed, Ms. The rich dog returned from a walk – but the dog slipped technically due to illness – a neighbor knew he had reported it to police, he said.
“He really destroyed my trust in her,” she said. Said Bai. “You can’t do anything, you can never convince another person, and you just learn to take a little distance.”
Relationships with strangers also show a distorted social fabric. After a landfill official told residents that he could not pass the test and therefore could not move freely around the city, the resident smashed a table and injured a worker.
Blogger and podcaster Lee Houcheng compared Shanghai residents to birds that are easily frightened because they have lost their ability to cope with stress.
“There’s also a sense of tension in the newly opened streets and in people’s behavior that they can look at you, intervene, interrupt or drive you away at any time,” he wrote in a widely shared essay on WeChat.
There are few ways out of this tension. In addition to limited resources for mental health – national health insurance does not include consultations – censors have deleted many critical posts on social media. The state-run media hid the fears of the rest of the population, encouraged “positive energy,” and held Shanghai as another example of the success of the zero-sum strategy.
The lack of any collective account or grief has plagued even those who feel they have been able to return to life before the blockade.
Anna Qing, a 20-year-old education consultant, returned to the office and gym. He feels his feet on the sidewalk, enjoys walking around the city and riding his bike.
But the fact that such everyday things are so special now is a reminder of how much the city has to sacrifice.
“We are happy that it is reopening, but also did not acknowledge our experiences,” he said.
“It’s closed now, it’s open now, we have no control. Now we have to be happy. “
I read you the and Liu Yi contributed to the study.