I know I’m not alone.
The past few weeks have seen us all go from worrying about the daily minutiae – what’s for dinner tonight, have I paid that bill, should I book a holiday – to being overwhelmed and engulfed by the global Coronavirus pandemic.
It confirms my belief that there is always a list of worries and we simply prioritise them according to what’s going on in life.
Whenever I clear higher priority worries off of my plate, a lower priority one sneaks in. For example, my extremely British teeth are wonky – the result of childhood extractions and limited 80s orthodontics. It’s not a big deal, but I’ve been self-conscious about my smile since I was a teenager. I try to keep my mouth closed on photos. Every now and again, I wonder if I should do something about this. I had an appointment booked recently for a free Invisalign brace consultation. But then the virus news kicked off and staying home seemed a better option. Straight teeth are surely not a priority.
My worries now are more serious. Will my family and friends become seriously ill? Will I be able to buy food next week? Will we all lose our jobs?
These thoughts take us right back to the fundamentals of human survival. I follow mental health advice. I breath. I try not to think too far ahead. Today at least I know I am ok. I am not hungry or cold. I have tea. It will get better.
Social distancing, as we’ve all been told to do, is incredibly hard when you already struggle with loneliness and feeling isolated. Overnight other people became the source of a potential contagion, something to be feared and avoided. Those of us who crave more hugs now can’t give a handshake or even make eye contact as we hurry fearfully around corner shops. This is rough.
At the same time, those living in a household shared with partners and children are struggling with the enforced closeness. The routines we have hold relationships together and they often involve distance. So many are now trying to work from home in small spaces, gritting teeth as they renegotiate life together.
But when worries are big, you find the joy in small things…
I got quite excited to take my rubbish out yesterday because I’ve been going outside so little. Look at this bin bag – I have a legitimate reason to be here!
I’m also very grateful that I was able to take my parents out for a nice meal in London for my Dad’s 70th birthday a few weeks ago. Already this feels like a distant memory of freedom and carefree abandon.
And I really value the daily messages from friends and chats with colleagues about how we feel. These are going to be the things that sustain us until those lower priority worries can take over again.