For us, this is the third week of lock-down, quarantine, isolation, or whatever other label you would like to put on it. While my life has not changed much as I work from a home office, I sense other people are struggling with finding a way through uncertainty and fear. Many of my clients have voiced these fears and are doing all they can. Much of the advice found on social media has changed from the rather unrealistic (write a book in three weeks, become a mindfulness master, learn a language) to the more realistic of how to juggle a routine that includes work, childcare and “me-time” in the few hours that are left. People are realising that relationships need to be nurtured and dangers lurk when two people are forced to live together, even if all was well beforehand. Those who seem to thrive better are those who have found a routine and adhere to it.
The last month or so has been interesting to observe in terms of how the world works. They always say that you see the worst and best of people in a crisis and this has definitely been the case. For every story of selfishness and bigotry, there is a story of normal people giving all to help others, especially health and hospital workers, doctors and nurses who are putting their lives on the line for the good of others. There are people in their homes putting together initiatives to help generally and volunteers everywhere doing their best. These are the important stories, not the ones concerning stockpiling and profiteering that the media likes to highlight.
Political systems are also being strained and representatives are doing what politicians normally do. That is avoiding the truth, spinning the truth and outright lying about what they are doing to help populations at large. We have seen leaders of major western democracies lying, blaming and in denial about the biggest public health issue we have ever faced. The UK initially seemed to be clueless and the US took too long to react based on unrealistic statements from the very top. It is disturbing to read, as I did today, an adviser to the UK Government stating in a newspaper that “we have to find a balance between restricting business activity and keeping older people alive who might have died anyway”. While we can all appreciate that decisions (sometimes hard) need to be made, the coldness of statement is chilling, to say the least. The crisis has shown many leaders up for what they truly are. “Capitalism is dead!” is a theme that runs through many critical articles I have read. It may have taken a blow but most systems in the western world are built on its economic principles and we will return to that and the consumerism it promotes fairly quickly. Hopefully, this crisis will help to bring in a more “socially acceptable” side of capitalism in that the massive divide between rich and poor is narrowed and support systems are put in place for the worst off, the old and sick in society.
If we can get away from the constant stream of bad news in the media, there is hope that we might emerge into a slightly different world. The environment has improved greatly, animals are appearing in old habitats and the air and rivers are improving in quality. We can only hope that this can in some way continue. It’s a nice thought.
There has been a bigger emphasis on mental health as people struggle with anxiety and depression. Many therapists have set up free services and hotlines to help as health systems are overloaded with other issues. I hope the stigma that still exists around mental health will evolve into an acceptance of the need to fund and resource mental health provision, where people who are truly struggling are given the help they need. A new world where insurance companies shift their emphasis onto such provision and less on creative ways to save money.
I truly hope that much more funding is found for associations and charities highlighting domestic abuse and violence. There are many women and children (and some men) living daily lives full of terror living with controlling and abusive partners. Many of the statistics concerning domestic abuse, horrific as they are, do not include the “silent” who are too scared to report violence in the home. Those who live in fear of their lives daily and are closely and obsessively controlled. These are the forgotten victims and a way must be found to help them access help.
We will all take learning out of this crisis in the way we behave. Even though, this is the most entitled, privileged generation that has ever walked the earth, not everything is as it could be. As individuals, we can ask ourselves how we can improve and bring this learning into our lives in terms of new perspectives and hope that those in power do the same thing.