We Don’t Talk About Coronavirus Enough

Never say c’rona virus, that’s how I contracted it

“I can’t believe all these viruses and bacteria can just invade my body willy nilly. Makes me sick.”

Lee Serpa Azeva-Who?

If I’m not writing, I’m sitting staring out the window. And if I’ve still got time to spare after all that lot, then I’m at my local psychiatric hospital. I used to only go there about 2 or 3 times a week, but now I feel the urge to go most days.

I spend my hospital days amongst a veritable motley crew of socially ostracized and stigmatised individuals. Every single one of us, in our own way, slightly unhinged.

I love my team. To the uninitiated, we may appear to be a gormless bunch of imbeciles desperately attempting to maintain some semblance of normality in a corner of the world filled to the brim with chaos and despair. But in fact, to those in the know, we are a high-functioning, acute psychiatric assessment ward, with many years of experience, across a wide range of clinical fields. We are just one of many clinical teams amongst many on the frontline.

I know what you’re thinking —

“Lee, how do you stay so grounded and humble with such illustrious colleagues?”

It’s all about emotional intelligence and self-control. Every single morning without fail, I tell myself that I’m absolutely not going to patronise anyone today. Oh, sorry, ‘patronise’ is when you talk down to someone.

So, there I was the other day, sitting in our team meeting, keeping a low profile while staring out the window, when it suddenly occurred to me, “I’ve never had an epiphany!” I shouted.

“Urethra!” yelled our eccentric Freud-loving psychologist.

I looked around the room and from the astonished look on everyone’s face, I deduced that something annoying, shocking and damn right ridiculous had just occurred.

Immediately after this incident, we had a brief debrief and came to the conclusion I’m an idiot.

I digress, my realisation was that my team’s collective concern regarding the newly named Covid-19 is the polar opposite to the current panic-induced mayhem that’s being reported, portrayed and discussed by the press, TV, and so-called social media influenzas.

Much like a fart in an elevator, this paradoxical perspective got me thinking; “am I working with a bunch of clowns or has a section of the population gone absolutely bat-shit crazy in response to COVID-19?”

I then considered the millions of years of evolution that teach us that remaining calm in a crisis exponentially increases our chances of survival.

“I’m sorry Lee, but how the f*ck are we supposed to remain calm when Walmart don’t have another toilet paper delivery ’til next week. I’m so tired of all these Chinese viruses, there’s like a billion of them and they’re all the same to me! We’re all going to die and don’t you dare accuse me of catastrophising!”

Photo by Chris Hall on Unsplash

Mark my words, this time next year we’ll all be laughing about these irrational behaviours. Well, actually not all of us, of course.

To those individuals that are panic-buying all the toilet paper off the shelves, you’re behaving like you’re addicted to crack. Stop it. Just like that Chinese laundry joke that’s missing the irony, it’s not funny.

And, instead of this incessant panic-buying of toilet paper, maybe you could rein in your emotional responses, take time to consider your actions and be mindful of what you presume to be true versus what you know to be fact. Remember in every corny joke, there is a kernel of truth.

So, I’ve been called a washed-up hippy, a cantankerous old fool and a deadbeat writer who’ll get nowhere in life, — damn that was a good performance appraisal, — but, such an approach to life has held me in good stead thus far. Of course, we’d need to disregard the failed marriage, the mental breakdown, the bankruptcy and that one time I was involved in a wrap-rage incident with a newly purchased stress-ball. Anyway, point being, it is imperative we hang on to reason and maintain a cool head while the world around us goes as mad as a Trump supporter at a Mexican Day Parade.

“But Lee, while you stand there thinking, everyone else is running for the hills! You’ll get left behind! Don’t you care about yourself and your loved ones?”

Of course, I care. But I will not allow myself to replace reason with fear. Nor will I be part of some kind of converse critical mass, carried on a wave of panic and self-interest. There are far more pressing matters we should be concerned with.

For starters, our hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed with those that think “I probably don’t have it, but I may as well go get checked out just in case.”

This is despite all of us knowing that those with acute and chronic health conditions (those most at risk), will be the ones paying the price for hospital waiting rooms filled with the over-cautious and worried well.

Furthermore, the risk of this shit-storm triggering a global recession increases every day. And we all know what happens in a recession, everyone in the world gets depressed, well, everyone that is except my ex-wife, she never struggled with depression. She found depression pretty easy, it was the joy that she struggled with.

However, I still have a bigger worry. What really concerns me are the poor examples we are giving our children. Instead of our children seeing the importance of team-work, solidarity and altruism, they observe us being suspicious, reactionary, fearful and self-interested.

Should we make more of an effort to teach our kids there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, or just keep reminding them there’s no ‘us’ either, just ‘me’?

This is an opportunity for us to pull together, a chance for us to be guided by kindness, compassion and an unrelenting need to seek truth and knowledge instead of speculation and false beliefs.

“Many hands make light work”

Ancient Chinese Proverb about the importance of teamwork when repairing lamps

Keep safe, keep well and keep laughing.