Coronavirus: We Need To Calm Down

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As I flipped the TV on last night, immediately a movie appeared on my screen. Within seconds, they were discussing an incurable global pandemic.

Enough!

I muted the television, by now frustrated by all the hysterical furore of Covid-19. I switched over to some Battleship: Life At Sea and unmuted once more. So much better.

I get it, I understand it, more than 25,000 people have died from Covid-19 worldwide, and that’s a tragic loss of life. By contrast, more than 125,000 had recovered, but nobody was talking about them. More than 115,000 had also died from seasonal flu this year, but nobody was talking about them, either. The focus was completely, purely and solely on the deaths from Coronavirus, and the pandemic, and how many more will die helplessly because of this microscopic thing.

I get it, I really do.

But all of this anxiety and hysteria won’t do us any good. Too much stress and we compromise our immune systems, and then what happens to us if we get the bug?

“I want to run off into the middle of nowhere, away from it all. Unfortunately, the police would probably also find me, arrest me and bring me back home” I laughed. It was half funny, and half a sad truth.

As more and more people are falling ill and being diagnosed with Coronavirus, the epidemic feels more and more daunting. Earlier today. when my mother visited me to drop off some much needed supplies, she stood back a safe two metres. Social distancing, it seems, even with my own not-at-risk family.

As we talked, I couldn’t help but peer over Mum’s shoulder. Each time a car approached, I’d look up to make sure it wasn’t a police car, or an army vehicle, or anything remotely security. My paranoia really had got the better of me in all of this, and even socially distancing myself from my own mother still made our encounter feel criminal. She was still there!

All this anxiety, in a city with still only 51 confirmed cases, about 1% of the number of cases in London.

My hands themselves were sore from so much washing. They’re now red, dry and itchy and have tiny dermatitis spots. I pat them dry and moisturise after each wash, my hands have never felt so smooth nor smelled so floral and feminine. Even my fingernails had started to look more healthy.

Next week, I want to move on from Covid-19. Of course, I understand that you’re probably like me and maybe you’re very worried about it, but I also feel like our constant hashing on about it and talking about it isn’t improving our mental health. There are a lot of people talking and writing about it right now (understandable, of course!), but whilst we’re washing our hands regularly and staying home, we need a break from it all, we need a distraction, we want some relief.

Something that I love to do after each day of overwhelming updates, is flip over to Good News Network. Instead of the scary figures and terrifying statistics, it helps to balance out the bad with some good. It’s not great news admittedly, but it’s the small acts of kindness that go on in the world despite the virus, and occasionally some really big good news, like some progress on a vaccine, or a new treatment.

Last night, I read about an American man who used a drone to ask a woman out on a date. This little bit of ingenious thinking goes to show that when faced with an obstacle, people really will go out of their way to overcome. When we read about things like this, it can uplift our spirits and help us to see all that is good in the world.

Also last night, we had the #ClapForCarers here in the UK. At 8pm, people throughout the UK clapped, people stood out in their gardens and clapped. We clapped for our NHS, our carers, all of the people on the frontline in this pandemic. As a former NHS worker, I was moved to tears.

“We didn’t have this with swine flu” I sobbed softly. It was true, we didn’t. Nobody was really using social media to encourage events like these back then. Facebook existed, but nobody used to round up community support. I remember crying at the time, though that had more to do with getting another dose of hand sanitiser in another blasted paper cut than it had to do with anything else. The folks on the front line are dealing with life and death, and my hands just looked like I’d challenged a shredder to a bust-up.

As this pandemic rolls on, I also want to stop comparing Covid-19 to Swine Flu. I hope that a treatment (and moreover, a vaccine) is found soon, but they are two entirely different pandemics. When you work on the front line, it is a stressful situation, whether you’re treating people or merely dealing with the paperwork behind the scenes. I don’t want to downplay Covid-19 as less serious because it is still serious, and we all need to stick together and we all need to work together at this time. Pandemics should not be ranked by bigger or smaller, a pandemic is a pandemic, full stop.

My job may never have been dealing with people, but my job did involve handling death certificates, lots and lots of death certificates during the time. I remember a week during the H1N1 pandemic that I had about 24 death certificates and only 5 birth reports, followed by a week of about 7 and 2, and it was like that for a while. I felt surrounded by death and it made me start analysing my own health for every tiny symptom. It was depressing and it does take a toll on your mental health in the end, so to all of the health and social care workers at this time, no matter how big or small your role is in this pandemic – I’m with you right now, cheering you on.

And to everyone else, have faith, know that it can and will get better. Maybe not now and maybe not for a few weeks or months, but it can and it will, because together as a global community, we are much, much bigger than the novel Coronavirus.

Be Bold, Be Bright, be Beautiful,

Helen xx

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