Ok, so cholera isn’t sweeping the nation or the world but it made a good title for this blog so…just go with it.
I have always struggled with my mental health. I have swayed from depression, to high anxiety, to PTSD and a myriad of other things. I imagine that you’ll be thinking that due to my history my fear of Coronavirus would be crippling but actually for the most part I’ve been fine. If I get the virus I’m not particularly vulnerable and I will take every precaution possible to avoid spreading anything to anyone else.
However the past few days have changed things. Firstly, the sheer level of panic across the nation is causing huge levels of anxiety. You can’t go on any social media app without being bombarded by information and posts with people talking about their current status, their plans for isolation and everything else virus related. It feels like there is nothing else happing in the world with news sites speaking of nothing but Coronavirus and the long term effects of the world essentially shutting down. Even the school WhatsApp groups are busy with parents panicking. This morning I woke at 7am and by the time 7:30 rolled around I had received over 30 messages about the school’s response to the situation, kids who will be staying home and even the odd call to God to protect us all (not sure that’s entirely appropriate in a class WhatsApp group).
This sudden increase in the discussion has caused a me to have a sudden anxious reaction. A reaction that for some reason I wasn’t prepared for. I suddenly fill the need to order extras of everything (I haven’t done, because I don’t want to deprive others), the need to hunker down (we’re not doing so until the school closes) and a general underlying level of stress clouding everything. I have had dreams where the whole of London was sinking as the soil bed turned to watery sludge. The ground was literally falling away beneath our feet. I wake in a pool of my own sweat and then have to carry on with my day as if nothing is happening, as if I’m fine.
Rufus, as I have written before, is autistic and we are still learning how best to help him cope with the most basic of days but the recent mass absences at school, the constant hand washing and talk of the virus is now having a detrimental impact on him. The last few days has brought more meltdowns and this means we have had to spend a great deal of time talking him round, cheering him up, calming him down. This is not only distressing for him and us but also his sisters. Eloise who is rarely anxious about anything but I see her worrying about him, I see her changing how she approaches him in order to avoid triggering him. Part of me is so incredibly proud of this side of her but it saddens me too.
This virus is going to cause deaths, we are going to lose people, people will lose their jobs, or at the very least fall on hard times but it will affect us in other, smaller ways too. As the panic peaks and we’re forced to stay inside we’ll be having to face Rufus’s autism head on, as a family. I will have to handle my stress, find new ways to process my trembling anxieties so that I can be the best version of a mother that I’m capable of.
The next few weeks, possibly months will be a challenge for us all so let’s just remember to be kind to each other, help each other when we can and finally be kind to ourselves. We need to get through this and we will. We will get through this.