We should all be getting our letter from Boris today. I’ve read it already (online) and I can’t say it gives us much insight or reason to be cheerful. Who needs a letter when human contact is what so many of us crave. Yesterday’s announcement that we could potentially be in lockdown for the next 6 months deserves much more than the caveats that it will be reviewed in 3 weeks time and does not necessarily mean maintaining the same restrictions we have today throughout that time.
Already anxiety levels are peaking from being socially isolated alongside the threat of a potentially deadly virus and this is still new territory. While acute anxiety can be relatively harmless and presents quite visibly, we are entering into the mirky world of chronic stress that can lie dormant as we get on with dealing with everyday incidents. In this twilight zone some of us are as afraid of our fear as much as the threats we have been alerted to while others are already staring significant and immediate challenges in the face.
Discordant bells are clanging out there with peels we cannot hear but feel in our bones. We are not mentally equipped to operate in this kind of scenario. The virus feeds on the glue that holds us together and while the call to isolate is necessary its as toxic as it is expedient. The measures being put in place are piecemeal, difficult to understand and slow in being implemented and the pillars we have come to rely on feel more granite-like than ever.
Its times like these that show what little resilience we have in our world of gadgets and social media where our economy is underwritten by financial institutions that are as stable as a three legged donkey and jobs are as secure as a shelf held up with panel pins. It would have been better for the government to have imposed a cryogenic economy — an enforced nationwide hybernation. It wouldn’t be impossible for the 6th richest nation in the world.
The efforts we’ve seen from community organisations are commendable and praiseworthy — long may they continue. But it feels like we need something more wholescale, visible and all-encompassing. Make no mistake, whatever strides have been made so far to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 those decisions were influenced by those of us who recognised the storm early on and bunkered down. As individuals we can help stop the spread of the virus by following government guidlelines but only collectively can we protect the mental wellbeing of our friends, family and neighbours.