MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “pandemic”

Masked control

She sneezed and suddenly the entire bus felt tense. It was as if everyone was holding their breath and counting the seconds until the next stop so most could get off. The pandemic has made us too touchy, always on edge, afraid of almost everything. We fear intimacy because we’ve been deprived of it for so long.

Mask constantly on, she got off at the next stop – that was the plan anyway.

She was observing people as she walked by. Their eyes had become their most descriptive characteristic at the moment; when you conceal everything else, what remains becomes more noticeable and gains greater power. You could sense their exasperation with the current situation: some had already given up wearing masks altogether, others were wearing two; most were slumping as if literally bearing their troubles on their back; and more often than not, they were all irritated by something.

So that’s where we’re at: being constantly agitated and not being able to explain why. We’re tired in all ways it is possible and we lack the motivation to do the basics, let alone go the extra mile. We’re carrying all this stress that is often inexplicable and unjustifiable and we seem unable to shake it off.

It’s easier to complain than to react. Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten. And we’ve allowed ourselves to tolerate it all passively for so long that we’re now dwelling in the comfort of inaction, seeing no reason to change anything.

No one will push you forward or get you going unless you do. You are your own motivation, alarm clock, red alert etc. If you don’t find a reason to move, no one else will inspire you too either.

We’ve become so reliant on others, on having things ready, at our feet – perhaps this is the downside of so much automation and technology in our lives. The fact that we tend to disregard that we are in fact in control.  So much, that we can even regulate the volume of our own sneeze.

Languishing

https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/wellness/wp-content/uploads/sites/2002/2021/05/Languish-1080x675.jpg

Do you feel it too? It’s quite common nowadays. That sense of not moving forward, of being underproductive, of aimlessly drifting in life. There is a term coined for it: it’s called languishing. Quite the opposite of flourishing, it’s the sensation of feeling empty and stagnant. Of feeling “blah” and “meh”. It’s the loss of purpose that two years in a pandemic have caused. That absence of meaning for anything we do.

As this NY Times article explains: “Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness”.

People worldwide have been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to a level they cannot explain. Hence, the term invented for this inexplicable feeling. We are dispirited, discouraged to do more. It often appears that we’ve lost the will to do something astounding because we see no point in it anymore. Our mental health is perhaps our most valuable asset and what has been most severely affected by this pandemic. Yet, we usually don’t recognise it, sometimes because we don’t want to admit it, and most times because we can’t really explain what it is that’s wrong.

We’re angry more often than usually. We become irritated by the slightest of things – by the tone of a person’s voice, the queues at the supermarket, the agitation in traffic jams, the high prices, the stalling of public transport, the inefficiency of the public service… anything can spark a distress that is difficult to mentally control. And then it becomes a domino effect of things going wrong, adding to the existing stress and the thoughts about the futility of it all.

Counsellors advise you to name your emotions, to get in touch with your inner self through mindfulness, to take it easy and give yourself time to go through the process, to relax and enjoy things as much as possible, to generally ‘be present’. We are told to focus on small goals because they are more easily achievable and bring satisfaction all the same. To transcend this feeling we need to start small, acknowledging, however, what we’re dealing with. Managing mental challenges is a feat in itself. Immerse yourself in what you do, be it a project of any kind, or a Netflix marathon; if it absorbs your uninterrupted attention it will help keep your mind off existential questions. It also helps to speak to like-minded people, who keep you calm and optimistic about life. Changing the scenery also helps, from redesigning a room to travelling abroad.

Languishing is not a disease that can be healed. It is a state – of mind, of psyche, whatever you may call it – that is greatly affected by the circumstance in which we live. Perhaps not everything is in our hands to control, but the way we react is. What we can do is realise that the best way to defeat whatever is bringing us down is to face it head on, and simply not let it. Whatever disrupts our mind, is what overpowers it and guides it too.

When tired gains a new meaning

https://www.onceuponapicture.co.uk/portfolio_page/fishing/

We hear it being whispered, being shared in secret gatherings, being discussed among friends, being confessed to psychologists, being admitted during our most exasperated moments.

We’re tired.

We’re tired of this entire situation; this new reality that is dangerously becoming the new norm.

Life with a pandemic, a virus we still know little about. Life with social distancing, masks, restrictions, regulations, opening and closing of the economy, schools, social life.

We’re tired of the fear that is being spread together with the disinformation about it all.

We’re tired of the isolation and alienation this is causing.

We’re tired of the bellicose atmosphere resulting from everyone being on edge.

We’re tired of this being the only topic of conversation constantly and everywhere.

We’re tired that it is beyond our control and all we can do is hope.

But most of all we’re so tired of being tired of it all.

Also part of Your Daily Word Prompt

Inspired by Once Upon a Picture

The lives we don’t see

©Dale Rogerson

No person has the same fingerprints or iris identifications. There is a reason for it. Each person is unique.

Consequently, each person is living a life that is often unbeknown to most; and is essentially very different to what appearances may suggest. Each is juggling their own life lemons, trying to get the most out of them.

Some medics, for example, work more hours than they even remember for a pay that is lower than a private parking meter.

Similarly, musicians are those starving artists keeping us company in the months-long lockdowns during a pandemic – one which medics are fighting.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

Reprogramming a lifestyle

You know why we refuse to accept something we cannot control? Because we can’t handle uncertainty. We are not wired to ‘go with the flow’ and let things happen. People are impatient. And insecure. We need to know that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to things. Otherwise, we go insane.

This year has been strange and extraordinary in every sense and at every level. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a serious strain not only on global healthcare systems, but on our mental health as well.

People can’t handle so many restrictions and so many recurring constraints.

But most of all, they can’t accept being told what to do, or rather, what not to do.

We can’t breathe with masks on because we’re told we need them. We feel we’re being deprived of oxygen because that is what our mind is telling us.

In every lockdown, we remember the need to go outside, to walk, run, cycle, swim, and sit in the park under the sun. Yet, during our ‘normal’ lives we may hardly even go out onto the balcony for some fresh air, spending the entire day in front of a screen at a an office.

And now, that screen is our way of communicating with the world.

Ironic. Tragic. Call it what you will. But this new reality has caused an irrevocable change to what we consider ‘normal’.  And the things we consider as a given or as common sense.

The world has hit pause and forced us to reconsider everything we considered ‘ordinary’. We need to reprogramme our entire lifestyle and way of thinking, working and living at whatever life stage we currently find ourselves.

The worse thing about the recurring and long-drawn lockdowns is that we’re challenging our own minds, the limits of our sanity, the strength of our beliefs, and the potency of our optimism. The entire situation places us in the unwanted position of not knowing whether to make plans or what these can entail because we very simply do not know and cannot tell what tomorrow may bring.

Uncertainty is the root of our discomfort.  

But no matter how much we resist, complain, moan and react, there are some things that are beyond our control. A global pandemic is among them.

So if you had to answer the question “if you could be anywhere in the world, where would that be?”, what would you say?

Some would answer the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights; others at the top of Mount Everest, at the Caribbean, at a fancy resort, at your beach house, a mountain chalet, somewhere no one has been to before, anywhere you cannot be at this very moment, somewhere different to where you are.

But the truth is, the answer is not a destination. Because in pondering your reply, it’s who you want to be with that springs to mind. As you grow older, you realise it’s not really the place that matters, but the moments and people you spend them with.

In essence, everything we need is here – within us – we just haven’t acknowledged it enough so as not to worry about what is beyond our needs and control.

It’s not the place or circumstances that need to change. It is our entire lifestyle and mentality.

When all this shall pass

© MCD

For you to see the stars, you need a dark sky. That is the only allegory suitable to describe how to remain optimistic and patient in order to see the positive in a gloomy and tragic situation.

Staying positive, doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that better ones are coming”. That is something we need to remember now more than ever.

Because around the globe, restrictions of movement, closed borders, bans on public gatherings etc, are all commonplace at the moment. We are all self-isolated….together. We are all in this together. Most of us are called to fight an invisible enemy in an unprecedented war from our couch. Others are on the frontline working night and day in hospitals, witnessing the painful consequences first-hand. All we are called to do is to #StayHome, #StaySafe, so they can help us out of this.

Viewed in another perspective, the whole world is frozen at the moment. As if someone pushed a ‘pause’ button and ‘regular’ life simply stopped. For how long, nobody really knows.

Sometimes even the hardships serve for a higher purpose. It is during the hard times that we realise how strong we truly are. (“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test” – Isabel Allende) And we acknowledge what truly matters. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has proven that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. It is in our own homes and families in the end that we will remain safe. We learn that distance cannot keep emotions away.

But when all this shall pass – because it will – we will come out reborn, we will have learnt (hopefully) to not take anything for granted, to appreciate everything and everyone we have more. Because it is in this distance and isolation that friendships will be tested and relationships will either be reinforced or shattered.

Like Victor Hugo said, “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. Every day is a lesson: the good days offer happiness and the bad ones, experience.

No storm lasts forever. But if we can stay positive in a negative situation, we win. It is up to us how to manage the situation we are in. “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours”.

We can’t change how all this started. But we can change how we deal with it from now on. And certainly what we will learn out of it. To become a bit more humane, empathetic and less selfish. To value the little things in life. To be kind to everything that is alive. And above all, to wash our hands.

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