Social distancing. Fomite. Epidemic. Pandemic. Outbreak. Community spread. Contact tracing. Self-isolate. Covidiot. Words I had forgotten. Phrases I don’t even remember had been commonly used not too long ago. And new ones, developed by cruel insensitive folks. There’s one particular one I refuse to mention here because it’s simply too disgusting – not the word itself, but the connotation.
But as bad as it is and the worse it can get, this too shall pass.
Is it the optimism within me or false bravado that’s prompting that utterance? It’s not exactly spontaneous, but it’s a refrain that’s been with me since the very beginning of the crisis. I have my reasons. And yes, I shall have no hesitation whatsoever in speaking my mind, like my badass heroines or dark brooding heroes.
I love to rant. Ask my partner who tends to leave the room when I get on my soapbox.
We’ve seen worse. Not me personally, perhaps, but humanity has. We have this unique resilience within us – we humans, that is. We forget the horror of the past, with even the mention of a past calamity making us feel a passing emotion – some deep and intense, but quite often shallow and terribly momentary. And then we move on. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a self-defence mechanism built into the brains of the majority of us. It helps us cope.
Would it help for me to remind you of the calamities that have befallen humankind that we choose not to dwell upon every second of the day? I shan’t bother. A simple internet search will tell you that our present predicament is somewhere at the bottom of the list. Let’s not forget either its cousin, SARS, a warning if there ever was one, which, we, of course, as humans ignore.
Would it make you feel better about the atrocities that we humans inflict on each other that’s taken more lives, or worse, destroyed one’s humanity? Another few searches will reveal the ugly truth. So, as some of us go around moaning and groaning about how our lives have changed, possibly forever, let me remind you that we are both stronger and equally sadistically apathetic where it comes to forces that destroy the quality of life.
We ignore it if it isn’t at our doorstep. Oh, it’s not happening in this country, thank goodness! We ignore advice, even when it’s drummed into our heads. Quit smoking? It’s too hard. It only knocks off a few years of our lives, which comes at the end and sucks anyway. Be sensible and follow common sense rules so that you don’t aggravate the pandemic. Really? That’s not my problem – it’s the governments. Besides, I’m following the rules, aren’t I? No, that law cannot apply to me – I’m a minister. Or the POTUS. Oh, and by the way, I am a Superhero, immune to the virus. Sigh. I could go on. I love to rant. Ask my partner who tends to leave the room when I get on my soapbox. Not because what I’m saying isn’t true or profound. It’s bitter. It takes me only seconds to remind me that I do have an outlet. I can write about it.
What am I really saying? Well, let’s get right down to it. If you’ve been able to get to this point, despite my rambling and ranting, then here are some helpful tips and tricks to avoid the most insidious of diseases that has killed more people than any other virus, disease, epidemic, pandemic, or even genetic conditions.
It’s mental pressure.
Some call it stress. But that’s too simple a word, quite frequently dismissed like a headache. Oh, take an aspirin for that. Do yoga. Have you tried breathing exercises? Or the worst - just ignore it. It’ll go away.Some are just placebic panaceas. They might work on the severely weak-minded, but let me remind you, most of us are not.
Why mental pressure? Because it builds up within your mind like steam within a pressure cooker. Like a frog in boiling water, ignore it at your peril. Yoga helps. Deep breathing too, for that matter. There are drugs that alleviate the symptoms to. Antidepressants. Tranquilizers. None of them are permanent. The first too even sound sensible and are short-term coping mechanisms. The chemicals have side-effects.
Before I go further, here’s a disclaimer. I am not a doctor. I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, nor qualified in any way to give advice. I’m simply pointing out and reminding my dear readers of what you already know deep in your hearts and minds. I’m trying to bridge the knowing-doing gap.
Deal with it. There are adjustments to be made, some temporary, some permanent. Some for your good. Some for the good of others. They’re all bloody common sense. Open your ears and trust your instincts. Do not, at any cost, listen to the devil on your shoulder that’s tempting you to ignore the voice from deep within you that’s urging caution. If you’re stuck indoors, find your favourite indoor game, hobby or recreational activity. It could be watching television (informative documentaries or binge-worthy series) or reading my book (there are those who claim mine aren’t too bad). Play chess. Or checkers. Or backgammon. Anything that stimulates the mind. Anything that lifts that little weight that’s holding the pressure within. Talk about it – with friends, family or the postman. Ask how others are doing, help them if you can by doing something or by simply listening. Believe me, you’ll feel great. Crack jokes, but only if they’re not going to hurt anyone.
Most of all, talk to yourself. I know, I know. There are those amongst us who believe that it’s insane. But it’s a sign of madness only when it doesn’t make sense. Have a brood if you have to. Or a cry. Most of all, don’t pretend that it doesn’t mean anything or it’s not happening to you. It’s happening to everyone. And it’ll pass. Believe me. It will. And then you’ll forget about it, your eyes misting momentarily years later if someone or something reminds you of this time.
One last thought. Everyone – at least, I believe it in my heart – remembers where they were when the planes crashed into the twin towers. I was outside an office building in Reading, Berkshire, chatting with colleagues, when one came over and asked me to watch the news. When I visited Ground Zero five years ago, I cried when I saw the names of the victims – I had friends, you see, who were working in one of the towers that day. You see, it is within our power to remember, if we really want to and shed a tear or two, reminding ourself that it is our duty to make the world a better place. Just start with yourself. All the best.
Sigh again. With a saddened heart, I bid you goodbye, but only for the moment.
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Talk soon.