THE UNSEEN ENEMY
Everyone in the world is faced with this unseen enemy. It does not differentiate between colour, race, or creed, but it has highlighted the great divide between the privileged and the deprived. And when we turn the next page that will be forgotten.
When we can’t see the enemy it’s difficult to imagine and to accept that it’s real. We may scoff and say – ‘It’s not that bad. The HSE are scaremongering. The government are scaremongering’. That’s a form of protection, a way of dealing with the subconscious fear. We find it difficult to comprehend. We are angry that our personal freedom has been taken away and our children’s education effectively stopped. Our choices are limited and we have no answers so we create a new story, one we can justify.
There is only one story right now. COVID-19 has mutated and there are at least 6 different strains of the virus. It is infectious. It can kill. If you survive, months of recovery are ahead of you, or there’s a possibility of being left with ill-health. No-one knows how it will affect them or the long-term damage and you can catch it a second time. Hopkins university is an excellent and bona fide source for facts. I’m sure there are many more.
Keep safe and follow the rules and through your actions someone may LIVE.
Watch ‘Unseen Enemy’ presented by Johnson and Johnson, a powerful story of infectious diseases.
MENTAL HEALTH – ANOTHER UNSEEN ENEMY
If you suffer from depression my heart goes out to you. COVID-19 has stopped your social interaction with the important people in your life. It’s so easy to say – ‘go out for a walk, read a book, do some exercises at home and on and on. When one is depressed it’s nigh impossible to motivate yourself to do anything. Unfortunately, you are not alone. Depression has doubled during the pandemic. Overeating and weight gain, smoking too much, drinking too much, self-harming – the list is endless.
I will offer advice and I hope some solutions. You’ve no doubt heard them all before and right now eyeballs all over Ireland are rolling. Depression is one of my friends. Yes, my friend. Rather than seeing it as an enemy, one I can’t beat I decided to befriend it and use it.
I write regularly. Sometimes nothing of particular consequence but saved nonetheless for future editing and possible ‘bright bulb moments’. I use humour as an antidote and ensure I laugh at least once a day. Going for walks is now more difficult due to pain, but I talk myself through it, visualize the route and tell myself that if I can’t manage it I have the option to turn back. I read a lot and have found loads of free books online which can be downloaded easily. You don’t need a kindle. There are options of downloading the kindle APP and others. Borrow Box from Galway Library is excellent, especially as our local library is closed. Yes, I do prefer holding a book physically, but needs must and I won’t let my brain rot for want a story or two or more.
CHECK OUT ONLINE RESOURCES
A group in Galway City have put together a beautiful website of their own personal poems and writing. Recited against a background of music they are well worth a visit. My favourite poet is Mary Faherty, whose delivery is succinct. Poetry in motion, emotive, and thought provoking – she will appeal to everyone.
There are forums you can join. It may take time to find the right one, one you are comfortable with, but do persist. Right now, you don’t need to feed your depression or stress with other people’s rants and moans. Sure, it’s good to have a moan, but limit it and focus on what you can do. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much amazing stuff you find online, from Tai Chi (which Richard now does daily), Yoga, learning how to paint, crafts of all kinds. Find something that works for you.
For the next month I challenge you to create a Vision Board, or if you prefer an exercise book containing your thoughts. If you don’t have the words use colour for a specific emotion. Find images you like and paste them on the board. Do they make you feel good? Do you smile when you see them? Check out Euro shop for colouring pencils, markers, paint, whatever your personal choice is. They also have a great selection of craft items.
Decorate a shoe box with words and images that appeal to you. You will smile every time you see it. Make a card. You might even consider doing this as birthday gifts for family and friends. It’s fun!
So many times, I dread doing certain chores and I really have to force myself out for a walk. What works for me is writing a list, usually in my phone. Even if I only get 1 or 2 items done it’s a personal achievement. Find what works for you.
If you would like to speak to someone online about any particular aspect of your life you will be surprised to find there are a lot of life-coaches who offer pro-bono sessions. Their areas of expertise vary. Ensure you check their qualification.
Decide today to spend 15 minutes clearing out a drawer or part of your wardrobe, or some paperwork. I thoroughly enjoy watching Maria Kondo. You may not want to greet your house like she does, but you can choose to greet your hidden-self that’s lost right now behind a dark cloud. Gradually coax it out. Check out CBT for Dummies. There is an excellent choice. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a simple map which will guide you out of the maze of negativity.
BEFRIEND YOUR FOE
Whatever you decide to do start with 5 minutes every day and gradually build it up. Don’t push yourself too much that you end up giving up. Find a balance and what works best for you. Best to do a little than nothing at all.
We are often our own best enemies. Make friends with yourself today. Acknowledge your depression, your dark moods. Then befriend them and use them to shift that darkness away. Visualize yourself doing this. It hurts, doesn’t it? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? No, don’t stop and say you’ll start tomorrow.
Do it now! Let the light shine in albeit briefly. Then you know that it’s possible. You do know you are worth it! Shout that out! Dance to your favourite music. Sing. Laugh. Stop beating yourself up. Most of all be kind to yourself. Acceptance and acknowledgment can change the dialogue in your head. Don’t make promises to yourself you can’t keep. Slow and steady wins the race.
Do you know how many people don’t have internet access? Do you know how many can’t afford it? How does this impact on their children’s education during COVID-19? It means their education will be Zero. Zilch. And as for working remotely, from home? Not an option.
Private patients in Ireland were still being treated last year. None of their appointments were cancelled. Patients who did not have the benefit of private medical plans were not considered. Some people may disagree with me, but I can only assume that the ‘private patients’ who told me this were not lying. I also assume that patients relying on the public sector were considered to be in less pain. Money talks.
COVID-19 has highlighted the great disparity between those who have and those who don’t. Disadvantaged, disabled, disempowered – you well may have to ride out the COVID-19 storm without a safety net and the one game you are allowed to play freely is Russian Roulette.
PUP – the pandemic unemployment payment can be as much as 350 euro every week if you were earning over 400. It means you can afford to feed your family. In South Africa, the pandemic payment is 350 rand a month, less than 20 euro a month. The food poverty line is 560 rand per month, almost 31 euro. I mustn’t forget that one euro. Forget about paying bills. Forget about medical care. Forget about your children’s education. Free? Freedom? Trite words best left in the history books.
The facts and figures are all online. The stories are told and shared, but soon forgotten. Social Injustices are highlighted today, forgotten tomorrow. And the world continues to spin on its axis.
I have written two novels available on Amazon