Can We Make Kindness Contagious Too?

Also, do viruses really come from Germany

Teacher: Okay Emily, make a sentence using the word ‘contagious’

Emily: Yesterday our neighbour started painting his whole house with a two inch brush and my dad said it’s going to take the contagious

As a frontline clinician in the middle of a pandemic, there are two lessons from my training that spring to mind; ‘coughs and sneezes spread diseases,’ and ‘if a psychiatric patient believes they’re running with bulls, then they should be diagnosed as being mentally in Spain.’ Either way, if you’re anxious that an intruder may be hiding in your home while you’re self-isolating, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

I know what you’re thinking —

“This is all very well, but this doctor is talking absolute nonsense!”

I’ll have you know I’m no goddam doctor, I’m a psych nurse, dammit! Actually, my relationship with my ex-wife was very psychological. She’s a psycho and I’m logical.

After my marriage breakdown, I dated an American girl. She used to get me to wear my nurse’s uniform in the bedroom. She liked to imagine she had healthcare.

Less than a week ago the UK Government asked the British public for volunteers to help fight the spread of COVID-19. Volunteers to take care of our most vulnerable, so the NHS can stay focused on the job in hand. Talking about jobs in hand, we should never discriminate against those psychiatric patients that are really bad at handjobs. It’s not their fault they can’t get a grip.

The British Government set a target of 250,000 volunteers. Within 24 hours 400,000 Brits had stepped forward. Within these numbers are 12,000 healthcare professionals, recently retired but returning to the NHS for the duration of the lock-down. This virus might be able to copy itself, but believe me when I say the British NHS is more than equipped for a bout of plaguerism.

Here in the UK, the majority of us are pulling together, working together, adapting together and most importantly helping each other. As a psych nurse, I am privileged to have a panoramic view of society in all its unadulterated degradation, sorrow, pain and hope, kindness and compassion. What I see is people responding to an unprecedented situation. I also see our newest patient responding to unknown stimuli. In such circumstances, it is far easier to focus on the negative behaviours of others compared to the kindness of others. Imagine living in a world where random acts of kindness are the norm, not the exception.

People are already talking about what changes they hope will remain when this is all over. I know what I’m keeping.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle”


Originally published in ‘The Swipe’ 29/03/20.