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Testing Times – What’s going on?

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My book club met on Zoom earlier this month. Afterwards I felt compelled to set up a blog and write. Being relatively new to this group, I don’t know these ladies very well. However, after our book discussion, we discussed the lockdown and its impact on our lives. What lingered with me after the call was that despite our different individual circumstances, the lockdown was impacting everyone’s life and not all in positive ways.

In these last two/three short weeks, I have learned that it’s not just business that are affected by the lockdown, but communities, families and the individual. We all are.

I was certainly feeling the impact as overnight, my ‘new normal’ was a husband working from home, no home/office, and I had been furloughed from my part-time job.

On top of these changes, I recognized that I was suffering much fear and anxiety due to the virus itself. This was raising a number of questions like; will I catch it? And if I do will I be very ill? Are there enough ventilators if I need one? Will my close relationships survive this pandemic?

When these thoughts bubble to the surface, I can draw on my own life experience. I know not to sweat the stuff I have no control over, and focus on the stuff I do.

However, over the last two weeks or so of lockdown, I have felt that for a number of days or so, that my legs have been taken away from underneath me.

I don’t like this; I like to have order and plan my time. I had plans for the next six months of this year, most are now on hold some are not.

I believe it is important to understand what change means, why coping with it is important and how we do this. We are affected by this pandemic and therefore are all going through some form of change. We are all adjusting. Also, the virus is spreading covid-19, like wild fire, and with it much fear and dread. This all needs to be counterbalanced.

I was one week in lockdown before things shifted in my psyche. It suddenly dawned on me. I needed to lean on my previous experiences of dealing with change to recognize where I was in this process. Yes, going through change involves going through a process of about 5 stages. I had forgotten.

Looking at these stages I recognized where I was and this brought some relief to my feelings. I was bouncing between the third and fourth stages. The key is to experience what I feel in each stage, as the only way out is through these feelings. See below.

The first is Denial. You may be unable to take in what is happening or thinking this should not be happening, you don’t want to talk about it, or you may not feel much at all.

After the shock of crisis, denial and numbness can be a blessing; as they let you come to terms with change gradually, in your own time.

The second is Anger. When you begin to take in what has happened, numbness may give way to deep anger, or wherever you look you find something to be angry about.

Feeling angry is OK, there are ways to express this anger that won’t hurt you or others.

The third is Bargaining. You may bargain with friends or family or bargain with what you believe to be a powerful force in your life.

Bargaining can be a way of trying to control change or put off the inevitable.

The fourth is Sadness/Depression. Crisis is about something ending. At some point it sinks in that life may never be the same again. You may feel “What’s the point”, or you may feel that you don’t want to do anything.

Like night follows day these feelings are part of a process and you won’t feel the same forever.

The fifth is Acceptance. At last you start to see things differently; this stage may seem a long way off but you have the power to get there.

Acceptance is not defeat, when we accept, we become winners.

Acknowledging these feelings has been hard but as the crisis is moving and changing, so am I through these different stages. I will not stay in one stage forever.

The truth is that I can’t control the crisis, save to stay at home. I am now giving myself permission to go with the flow, and stop resisting. Although I never wanted this situation in the first place I will go with the flow and accept where this takes me. I know how to do this, but again I had forgotten.

My suggestions for navigating these testing times, follows in part 2. These suggestions will better enable us to move forward during this time and for when the restrictions are lifted.

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