Un Masked

I wear a lot of metaphorical masks, but I can’t wear the face kind. This isn’t because I don’t agree with them, quite the contrary I think they’re an important method of keeping everyone safe through the pandemic.

I can’t wear a mask because I have crippling PTSD and even the thought of being asked to put one on can send me into a full blown panic attack. Given the current mandated mask laws in my state, right now and my fear of being yelled at, video’d and labelled a “Karen” on Facebook. I find it easier if I simply don’t leave the house.

Reading the news today I saw a story about a woman who was fined for not wearing a mask despite claiming to have a medical exemption. She had continued to refuse to put one on despite police requests and had allegedly become verbally abusive towards the officers. The result of this was that she was summoned to appear in court.

When the court date came she was refused entry to the building for refusing to wear a mask and appeared via video link instead. The article has stated the magistrate has set a new date and told her she must appear in person and wear a mask should they still be mandatory in the state, or she’d be arrested.

I don’t know the people in the story, it’s one article that I read. I don’t know if the person in question had a genuine medical exemption or if she was just saying that to avoid wearing one.

I do have an exemption from M, but apparently they’ll only get you so far. I’ve already learned this the hard way by not being able to have tests at the hospital for abdominal pain after my GP and gastroenterologist had sent me in fearing a cancer recurrence. I would either have had to wear a mask, or sit in the separated area full of people with Covid symptoms. Having just completed chemotherapy neither option was safe and so I just went home.

When I had symptoms that could classically have been related to a heart attack weeks later, I didn’t bother to seek treatment at all.

So, I have a PTSD issue bad enough for me to avoid important medical tests and treatments. I also live with chronic mental illness and have struggled with suicidal ideation since childhood. When I read this article, being the over thinking type I am, I immediately put myself in the shoes of the woman and had a mini anxiety attack.

As those of you who know my history are aware, I don’t respond well to being cornered. If this was me, and a judge had threatened to throw me in jail if I didn’t attend a court appearance and wear a mask, even though my mental health has been steadily improving with therapy, I think a situation like this one would throw me right off the metaphorical edge.

I can honestly say, the depth of the anxious feelings coming up just hearing this story (which has nothing to do with me personally at all) are so overwhelming that I would be likely to take my own life just to avoid being forced to wear a mask for a court appearance.

Yep. I am completely aware of how ridiculous that sounds. I am also completely aware that there are doctors and nurses wearing full PPE and masks for over 12 hours straight every day and I am incredibly grateful to them. Maybe I’m just weak, maybe I’m pathetic, maybe I’m a selfish ungrateful so and so. I know my feelings are illogical.

But PTSD isn’t logical, nor something I can just put on pause or ‘choose’ not to have. This situation terrifies me so much that death is a preferable option. The state of pure anxiety is so strong that I will completely forget my loving family, my children and friends and how my death would impact them. In that moment the only thought I can process is the need to GET AWAY and if the only escape I can see is death, that is the option I will take.

Given my bias on the subject, I can’t decide if the magistrate is being reasonable or not in his demand for her to appear in court physically. I also know that a lot of people will claim they have conditions that they don’t really have just to get around the rules. Those people make it harder on folks like me who are just trying to get through without the humiliation of a public breakdown.

Link to the article

I’m also not commenting on whether the initial fine she was issued is justified or not, or if her response to the police was acceptable. Assuming her claim for the medical exemption is legitimate, I’m mostly upset that the magistrate is able to have a warrant for her arrest if she refuses to attend court in person because of the mask mandate. I feel there should be alternative arrangements available. Why would video link not be acceptable?

I feel that this sort of precedent could dramatically affect the mental health of people who suffer from genuine medical concerns that make mask wearing impossible. Would the police even accept my exemption? If not, would they let me go home without a mask or force me to put one on?

There’s already so much stigma when it comes to mental health issues and the police, what would happen if I were to have a mental health crisis over this time and the police became involved? Being forced to wear a mask would likely cause a total breakdown potentially escalating a situation that could have been largely preventable.

What do you think?

3 Comments on “Un Masked

  1. To me, it makes a difference if the judge would take this stance against anyone with a mask exemption, or if it’s only because of the specifics of this case. If the judge would do this with anyone, that’s 100% inappropriate. If the quote from the officer in the video is true that “under the Health Act, staff aren’t allowed to serve customers unless they are wearing a mask,” then even if the woman and all of her staff had legitimate exemptions, those exemptions didn’t permit them to do that kind of work serving the public. I can see that as being grounds for a tougher stance in a way that wouldn’t be appropriate if the issue was a customer with an exemption not wearing a mask.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I agree. I was unaware about the rule of serving to the public until I read this article, I mean it makes perfect sense, it’s just not something I’ve seen advertised. I’m in NSW not QLD, but there has been a lot of confusion here over rules. Things have been changing daily and people and police have been struggling to keep up.

      Giving cafe owner the benefit of the doubt and assuming she didn’t know exemptions didn’t count in this instance, her alleged reaction to police telling her wasn’t appropriate but could be more understandable as there’s a lot of stress on a business owner being told they can’t operate when the mask reasoning probably wouldn’t allow them to be eligible for government disaster payments in locked down states.
      If she was aware and was just pushing the boundaries then yes, a tougher stance is more understandable.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Your feeling threatened by reading about the woman you don’t know in the article resonates with us. We hear your empathy, fear. The need to be safe is strong. You sound very vulnerable. Mask mandates are a challenge, a threat, when you’re unable to wear one.

    Liked by 1 person

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