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Living in a time of crisis

I wonder how you are bearing up in these difficult times? At this time last year who would have thought that we, along with our fellow citizens around the world, would now be confined to our immediate environment and perhaps isolated from those who mean the most to us. On a daily basis we are exposed to news coverage that frightens us, overwhelms us and brings us face to face with our own mortality. Seldom before have we experienced such a threat, with no immediate viable solution. With good reason, this might feel like a terrifying world to exist in right now.

The world continues to turn and the general order of things continues as it always has but, for us as human beings, the way in which we live our lives has changed beyond recognition. Enforced confinement is bound to have a huge physical and psychological impact and, at this stage, whilst I can only imagine the outcome, I live with a sense of foreboding about the potential for immense trauma when this crisis is resolved. But, imagination is a very dangerous thing, and imagining what might happen in the future not only consumes our energy, but also gives rise to the potential for an escalation of anxiety, stress and depression.

For many living with these, or other mental or physical health conditions, it may well be a time of great suffering. If you find yourself in this situation, I would encourage you to maintain close contact with your GP and/or your therapist or other healthcare professional. I am mindful that some people are reluctant to "bother" their GP at this difficult time, but it is essential that any escalation of symptoms is carefully monitored and treated to minimise the potential for crisis.

As traumatic as this confinement is, it seems to me that one of the most effective ways of overcoming the difficulties associated with it is to accept the conditions that have been imposed on us by our government and to find a way of living as well and as safely as possible. As I write, I am mindful that there are some who are living in difficult domestic situations and where there is real hardship. Many may be struggling with domestic violence of one form or another, others may be experiencing the trauma of losing their job. Some may be relying on food banks, or on the generosity of others to put a meal on the table. Some may be living with the grief of losing a loved one unexpectedly. Others may be alone or lonely. If this is your reality, then I encourage you to seek out the support that you need, be it professional support, or the support of family, friends or neighbours. Even if this is not something that you would normally do, as human beings we are all vulnerable and there are times in our lives when we all need the support of others. Rather than exposing a weakness, it takes great strength to reach out and I would encourage you to do so. These are exceptional times and it calls for an exceptional response from all of us.

In this time of hardship and uncertainty, the only thing that any of us can be reasonably sure about is what is happening to us now. Worry about what may or may not happen in the future is futile; what happens now will inform our future and, to that end, this time in isolation may well prove to be useful. We may, at least, have the opportunity to improve the quality of our relationships, after all, we were never meant to live in a state of isolation. It is encouraging to see the many ways in which communities, families and friends are coming together to make things better for all of us. It is amazing and heart-warming and may it last long after life returns to normal.

But what is "normal"? It seems to me that now is as good a time as any to ponder this question. What has been your normality? Has it been a life lived well; a life of balance in all things? Or has it been a life in which you have struggled to achieve your personal and/or professional goals? Now is as good a time as any to ask ourselves how we use our personal resources and the abundant resources our world offers us. What is it that we need to do in order to live well and to preserve not only our own lives and those whom we care about, but also in order to preserve the planet on which we live?

I wish you well in your deliberations and whatever happens in your world, I hope that you have the support and resilience you need to overcome these difficulties.

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