Well it seems we are all players in some kind of dystopian society. The police ( it has been reported) going into shops and telling the store owners what they can and can’t sell. Road blocks stopping cars asking where the occupants are going. Whilst I understand some of these measures maybe necessary I do sometimes wonder if there will be long term ramifications for our civil liberties when this is all over. Possibly the free society that we have been told exists for so long, was just a fallacy. Who knows ? It is just a bloody strange time to be alive.
I worry a lot about the adults of the future and their mental health after being exposed to these constant stress levels. No matter how good of a parent you are the kids are going to notice that things are far from normal. Exposure to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol for prolonged periods during childhood is theorised to cause damage (here) We went into this global pandemic with a vastly underfunded National Health Service, whose mental health side always played the poor relation. Now we have the very real issue that after we get through this that not only adults maybe displaying the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress but also millions of children. All people who may be needing immediate help after this crisis is over but the help sadly won’t be available to them.
My anxiety levels have been all over the place in the last week, I know I am not the only one who is struggling to deal with the current situation. Last week gin and chocolate were my drugs of choice but they left me feeling awful and rapidly gaining weight, so I have switched back to my meal replacement as I feel so much better on this and it stops the passing out after eating nonsense. Hubby is also having to battle the demon anxiety, his is related to work and the guilt of not being there. The slightest thing is setting him off so it is necessary to attempt to fill his days with as much activity as possible so he simply doesn’t have the opportunity to fall down the Covid- 19 Rabbit hole.
I was perfectly fine with the whole lock down situation as in all honesty it was no different to any other week in the past 12 years. At the moment with Mr Myasthenia Kid being home it just feels like he is on holiday other than his work phone is on and he is ringing staff to find out how they are doing whilst they are also on 12 weeks leave from work. However more than two weeks of this and it is going to get bizarre. I have grown very used to my own company over the last 12 years. I can usually accommodate the disruption to my routine when he is home, this 12 week period could be a test as I do like my routine.
On Saturday a dear friend dropped off mine and hubby’s prescription medication to us. Normally I would have thrown my arms around her and given her a hug. Instead we had to observe the whole two metre distance protocol . It was weird and unnatural ( I get that it is to stop infection, it doesn’t stop it from being totally alien ). We have over the last ten years become quite a demonstrative country, friends greet each other with a hug, peck on the cheek. So to suddenly go back to not greeting my nearest and dearest this way, well it really upset me. As soon as I closed the front door I started crying and I pretty much wept on and off all day long. Which was a bit of a nightmare as I was trying to do some sewing. It was the first time in a long time that I had to acknowledge the isolation. I know I am incredibly lucky, I have someone at home with me, so I have human contact. There will be many people out there, particularly elderly people or those who have been widowed with grown up families that have no one at all and it will be like that for 12 weeks ( at least ). Countless pieces of research have concluded that loneliness is as bad for you physically as smoking 15 cigarettes a day let alone the damage it does to you mentally. For a nice easy to read article on it click here .
A lot of people are going to be experiencing something they have never done before – complete isolation. The impact on the health service after this is all over will last years and people, well those in power need to be thinking about the nations recovery, not just financial after this. Every generation will be affected, every demographic it is another ticking time bomb waiting for us on the other side of this pandemic. There will be those dealing with the loss of one or more loved ones, those who have had OCD triggered ( obsessive compulsive disorder ) by the excessive hand washing we are all undertaking to prevent contracting or spreading this virus. Also what about the women who are due to give birth right now, will there be an increase in postpartum depression or psychosis? We already knew that the mental health resources were spread thin before this started, with a depleted exhausted work force how on earth will anybody get the help they will so desperately need when this is finally all over ( and for some their conditions will be so acute right now that they need the care immediately and it won’t be there ).
I also worry for the key workers who are holding this country together right now. Ever increasing work loads as more and more people have to self isolate for two weeks. The abuse that some of them have suffered whilst simply trying to carry out their role to help the general public. Some of them have had to make some very painful emotional choices, not to see their children / loved ones for fear of contaminating them with this virus. When they are already experiencing probably some of the toughest working conditions they have ever endured they now have the added emotional toll of having the physical contact of the ones they love removed from them. The people at home can be the very support system that keeps people going at times like these.
I have great concerns for the doctors, nurses, health care assistants, home carers who may have patients that pass away from Covid-19. I can’t imagine the toll that is being taken on those who are dealing with rooms full of Covid-19 sufferers, that will or probably have already decided who will and who won’t be placed on a ventilator. Can you even begin to imagine the damage that must do to a person? Having to tell that persons loved ones that the patient won’t survive, isn’t a suitable candidate for life support. People may think they must become immune to it over time but I don’t think they ever truly do and this maybe the tipping point for many in this field of medicine that leads them to walk away from it once this crisis is over. It maybe the same for many occupations, that people realise the emotional toll that the job has taken on them is just too high.
Many of my friends still work in retail, once a job considered by many to be low skilled is now feeding the nation. However after 2 weeks worth of abuse by the general public many are now refusing to do more than their base hours, no longer willing to do over time and be exposed to the abuse both physical and verbal for just over the minimum wage. Who can blame them? Many people are making the decision to place health particularly mental health over wealth. They can no longer put up with their treatment at the hands of others, when they are providing a vital service. Without anyone in food retail from the checkout operator, to the store cleaner, to the HGV driver to the factory worker, to the packet printer, to the farmer and many others I have failed to mention, you would’ve have gone hungry. And yet some people are still treating them like they are shit on their shoes well shame on you.
I am hopeful for great social change once this is all over. I am hoping those previously thought of as low skilled get the recognition they should by being paid a proper wage. That the homeless will remain housed and not turfed out once the crisis is resolved.
I hope that we come out of this accepting that we all will be carrying mental scars no matter how tough we are and that there will be the help available to all that need it, not just those that ask for it.
I hope that we all start to appreciate each other more and realise everyone has their part to play if we want to live in a fair and just society. That it is no longer someone else’s problem.
I hope most sincerely that we never go back to once what was normal, that we strive to make a difference every day.