Avoided it as long as possible but it seems impossible not to write something about the CoronaVirus, Covid-19 if you want to sound posh about it. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks doing stuff at work in preparation for this point (multi let building etc) but up until late this week it all felt a little OTT.
I honestly have no idea what I think, so many conflicting opinions of my own let alone other peoples. On the one hand I think well it’s flu – most of us may not even realise if we get it so I see some elements of the panic as dramatic, it’s not the plague. Yet I also understand if I get it and pass it to someone more vulnerable this is very different so we should all follow the advice of hygiene – this is not new advice of course it’s how we normally stop the spread of germs.
What does make me nervous is people’s reactions – there aren’t any food shortages,, let’s be clear about that. The reason you can buy paracetamol, pasta, eggs, rice, loo roll – that isn’t because CoronaVirus has depleted our supplies, it’s because people are panic buying for no reason. Yes if you need to self isolate having two weeks of food in is a good idea but how much do you normally use in two weeks? You don’t need more than that, and bear in mind if your self isolating it is probably because you are showing signs of illness so will you be as hungry anyway? Plus what do you’re eating – unless you actually enjoy spam (I won’t lie I’m partial to a bit, it reminds me of my great nan and sandwiches at her flat as a kid) why buy it? What would you normally buy for a two week shop? Have that it, maybe a couple of tins of soup or beans in case fresh stuff goes off towards the back end of two weeks. Really it’s not the apocalypse, it just feels like it because we’re all hoarding like dicks. If the government put us into a form of lockdown supermarkets will remain open as will chemists. You notice how in no country so far on lockdown anyone has been told survive on what you stockpiled it starve? People can leave their house to shop and even go to the bank (yeah don’t think you’re getting away without having to pay the bills). So be prepared a bit more than normal fine but this isn’t the last shop you’ll ever do- you will be able to go shopping next week too. In fact by this mass hoarding we are just hurting our fellow humans. All that spam or economy beans you’ll never actually eat, well for some people that’s their normal shopping because that’s all they can afford – and you my friend have just taken the whole stock of it to put in your cupboard never to be eaten, whilst those people can’t afford to but the more expensive tins left on the shelf. Well done huh.
We don’t know what will happen or how long until it starts to die down and settle, we could have to get used to a different way of living for a while. What I’m pretty sure of is that how we look after each other – strangers not just those closest to you, is what will make or break us during those months.
So this all got me thinking about mental health. Two strands.
On the one hand I’m actually most nervous about my own head if I do need to self isolate. I suffer from depression and it’s under control but two weeks or more without social interaction as I live alone would be a massive challenge to that. I don’t do well cooped up and if my insight into the outside world is the current media I’m not sure how I’ll cope. I don’t think I’ll be the only person thinking this.
The second strand of my thinking is regarding anxiety.
The panic buying. I’ve spoke negatively about it above, but I do understand it’s a way of processing anxiety about an unknown threat to life as you know it. It is illogical, but anxiety is illogical.
The reporting of this in the media makes people worry that they should also stockpile, it creates a new anxiety amongst others than what if they stockpilers turn out to be right. I won’t lie I checked my cupboard to see what I had in. The never ending debating and what ifs and news programmes discussing various options for what could happen do not help settle any anxiety, nor does what I and wondering could today be the day something changes.
I read a quote which was interesting. People with existing anxiety seem to be coping better with this. I don’t know how true this is, I see some cases of this (myself included I think we really need to be practical here even if that is hard) and some where this definitely use to the case.
What I do think is true is that most of us who have some form of anxiety are more familiar with coping techniques and also more able to remind ourselves that the worst case scenario in our heads isn’t necessarily the truth. That’s a lot harder when the whole nation seems to think the same worst case scenario mind.
There’s no way of knowing what will happen. People are rightly worried about income, physical and mental health and a change to our daily lives. Limbo is a horrid place to be and you end up feeling helpless.
Right now we can control what we can control
– We can wash our hands, wipe down tables and gym kits
– We can self isolate if get the symptoms to reduce the spread
– We can listen to supermarkets, think of others and not panic buy
– We can check in on people who are worried or self isolating or maybe a bit older and less able to go out and do their own shopping
– We can support our employers by following their policies as they are also going to be under a lot of financial strain during this
– We can follow any rules imposed calmly as public unrest won’t make any situation better (old enough to remember the riots?)
I can’t claim to know anymore than anyone else, these are just my thoughts but if anyone does need an ear to vent to my door is open.