A blog by Jenny Murray, CAMHS Link Psychologist for Aspire AP, Bucks.

I had a very irrational response last week to not being able to join a meeting online. Technology. This is a new problem, I cannot blame the traffic! I just couldn’t get it to work and I got really cross…with nobody, because there was nobody to get cross with. The computer said no!

Luckily, humour is never far from my reach and I managed to laugh at myself and then had a lovely conversation with the meeting organiser. I shared my crazy five minutes with her, inviting us both to laugh at me and reflecting that everyone seems a little more sensitive than usual lately. National emergency, life threatening, collective trauma, crisis, disaster, catastrophic loss, uncertainty. These are the messages we are hearing day in, day out.

The overarching message is that we are not safe going about our lives as we were. We have to change everything. We don’t have past experiences to draw upon, to help us to navigate through this, we have never experienced anything like this before. We don’t really understand how things will be in the future, what the time frames are or what ‘normal’ will actually look like in the future.

For now, we are adjusting to a new normal that feels alien and frankly very strange. This situation is impacting on all aspects of our lives. Social media and remote ways of staying connected can be both a blessing and a curse. Sharing humour, positivity and support, connecting communities, supporting the more vulnerable and generally reaching out to each other and doing what we were told we should be doing some weeks ago – being kind.

On the down side there can be an implicit message in all the positivity sharing, that if you are not feeling OK, that is not OK. What concerns me somewhat is that we are hearing not just about threats to our physical health and that of the people we care about, but also to our mental health. I say this cautiously, as I would not want to invalidate people’s experiences of poor mental health or to downplay the potential impact on our wellbeing; but distressing experiences lead to distressing feelings.

It is entirely understandable to feel sad, worried, fearful and uncertain during times of uncertainty and when there is a very real threat that we are constantly reminded of. We are adjusting to something we have no template for. Many of us in the professions we work in are ‘do-ers’ and ‘fixers’. We help people learn and grow and feel better; we nurture and coach. It speaks to our core values. It feels important and meaningful and it feels like this is what we should be doing, because ultimately helping others helps us. So now, many are feeling that they lack purpose they feel guilty and a little lost. We express this in different ways. My daughter (9) asked me on Easter Sunday if I was able to speak to people I knew who were in Heaven. I asked her why and she said she wants to know if it is OK up there. When I go to the shop she calls me after about fifteen minutes, “When will you be back mummy, I miss you”. Fifteen minutes….

We are all in this together but our stories are not the same, so while we adjust and find comfort in collective experiences and connections with others that are either entirely new or are strengthened, we should bear in mind that it is OK not to feel OK. Yes, it is helpful to have a structure to your day, and get exercise, read more, get the jobs done we haven’t done and start that new hobby… this is the real world, some days it is OK not to feel OK, to not give in to the ‘should do’s’ and to ask ourselves, what do I need, just for now? The rule book has been thrown out, we are writing a new one. If ever there was a time to put your own mask on before attending to someone else’s, it is now.

< Back to Blog

Privacy Preference Center