Student, Oman Dental College (OMAN)
Will our lives ever become ‘normal’?
In all likelihoods, it may not! Although we are struggling to keep ourselves alive and adapting to a new virtual world, the chances of getting back to what we were before life hit the COVID iceberg are unlikely. There will be no going back. We may need to work with the world that we have now.
The Corona virus has brought drastic changes to our lives. In addition to the stress we have been carrying, we are now trying to cope with new levels of anxiety, uncertainty, disrupted routine, financial instability, social isolation etc. And, those with depression and anxiety are facing bigger challenges! In addition to the imbalances that the mentally affected people suffer, the virus has created more hurdles and barriers in their paths to recovery!
At the other end, our personal activities have shifted to online platforms: yoga, exercise, counselling, teaching, meetings…you name it! And when we are just beginning to follow a ‘cautious’ routine to keep the virus away, we hear that stronger waves of mutated viruses are ‘coming soon’ and more uncertainties rise!
As social creatures, we need to connect
I read somewhere that “…as social creatures we need to connect, communicate, interact and above all be touched. The power of physical touch, no matter how fleeting from someone we trust, leaves a lasting impact on our wellbeing. It is comforting, therapeutic and has a painkilling effect”. And here we are, in isolation, away from this factor in a fight against COVID-19! While introverts are happy to stay home and enjoy their own company, extroverts are slipping into frustration and depression.
Together for “better or worse”
Both rebellious youngsters and workaholic parents are forced to stay at home. While the youngsters are weaning out of their restlessness, the parents are forced to deal with their kids and give them time. For the “better or worse”, families have got back together.
A lockdown birthday
Now I got a chance to celebrate and enjoy a “lockdown birthday”. Before COVID-19, birthdays meant going out to some fancy new place, cutting the birthday cake with family or friends, and birthday messages from close ones. My lockdown birthday was different: Family and friends from different parts of the world united to surprise me — a first-ever for me!
From somehow managing to get the decoration supplies during the lockdown, to taking the risk of ordering my dream birthday cake from outside, to getting all my favorite dishes from pizza to pasta to gobi manchurian to paneer kebabs, to being able to enjoy the evening more than usual with just my parents and my pet dog, to receiving so many wishes not just from close family members and friends, but even from the outer circle, to the best birthday gift and surprise, the whole day was beyond memorable and meaningful.
Mahabharata ‘therapy’ sessions
On another positive note, lots of people got a chance to get back to their hobbies and favourite activities. Lots of them have also found new interests. For example, my dad was never into gardening. But now, no matter how tired he is or how hot it is outside, he does not sleep without watering his plants.
For me, I got a chance to get back to yoga, which was much needed considering the stress I was enduring in the past few months before lockdown. It felt really good to get back into my teenage routine where I had enough time for self-care. Now in spite of the stress from uncertainty and being hooked up with assignments, I do not skip my yoga, unless I am sick, as it gives me peace and strength to go through this phase.
While my mom was battling new challenges in teaching, getting used to the virtual classroom teaching methods, going through work pressure, she found her peace in revisiting and watching the Mahabharata television series that was released seven years ago and brought back on television through this lockdown and COVID-19 period.
It was also an eye-opening experience for me as this epic teaches a lot of life lessons. The series were like therapy sessions for us. Now, as we approach the end of this series, we have to search for other means of TV counselling sessions.
We are all in this together
But, despite these ‘mindful’ distractions, we can’t escape the fact that huge problems still exist. I see that many parents, including mine, are worried about their jobs and the economic crisis that is looming.
The youngsters are glued to their mailboxes or news channels for their respective ministries or colleges to talk to them and clear up on what is going to happen with their future or how they are going to manage studying for the final during this terrible time. There’s anxiety building up in everyone, in different ways. So again, we are all in this together.
Now there are some who believe that we have to set high goals and achieve them even during the quarantine period and if we don’t then we fall short of expectations. Of whose expectations?
Honestly, who are we to judge? We all must be allowed to cope and stay sane and heal and survive this crisis in our own way. Nobody should be forced to achieve greater things in life right now.
One definitely has to be self-centered to focus on materialistic achievements at times when half a million people are already dead and the rest are battling the odds.
It is OUR problem now
Before COVID-19, when a country or an individual went through a problem, it was mostly perceived as that country’s or that individual’s problem, not “our” problem as we were busy and had our own share of problems.
It was their bad luck that they were going through that problem. Whether it was a fight for life and survival, a natural calamity, it was always that individual or country’s problem to deal with.
What did the rest do? Probably share a few posts, sympathise, play blame games about how they would do it better if they were in such a situation. But there was no real serious thought or consideration given to those people who were actually going through a crisis. Nobody thought about the victim or affected individual’s mental health and welfare. Now that COVID-19 has affected each and every country, the whole world is in the same boat! Now it is not their problem or your problem, it is ours!
It takes all kind to make this world
COVID-19 has brought the best and worst sides of humanity. While there are doctors, medics, security forces and the media sacrificing their lives and trying to protect us, there are also people who are deliberately trying to enhance the spread and not cooperate by not following the protective measures or rules. “If I’m going to die, I’ll make sure we all die together!” As they said, it takes all kinds to make this world!
Let’s keep hoping
Will things get back to normal? Well, I hope it is not to the one we thought was the normal. Let us remember that mankind is so much more empowered to recreate everything again from scratch and probably even better than before. Yes, it is going to take a lot of time and effort.
But what else do we have to do while we are alive on this planet? Hope is the only reason why we are all still here fighting through the worst of our nightmares. So, hang on to that hope. It is not the end yet.