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Corona has shown that we are all equal

26 March, 2020 06:57:28
Corona has shown that we are all equal

None of us have any experience of living through a pandemic, as the last one (Spanish flu) was over a century ago. By now, you are not only afflicted by a pandemic, but also an ‘infodemic’. Mind numbing amount of information, data and stories about COVID 19 are bombarding our senses, some of them are patently false and malicious. So, how do you not let fear overwhelm you. First and foremost, it is essential that one is anxious about the disease. Unless we all are, we will not take precaution and keep ourselves safe. As a Psychiatrist, I have been learning from our responses. There is a collective response, i.e. the society’s and an individual human beings’ response. They are not necessarily synchronous.  

As an individual our responses depend on how affected we are and how cognizant we are about our predicament. The elderly, who are mostly dependent on others for their day to day living are anxious about how they will get by, during periods of lockdown. They are worried about their own health, should something happen. How do you access help in such times? Kolkata is an old age home. Most professionals live and work outside the state and the country. They are worried sick about their parents. 

Then there are those, who have pre-existing mental illness. Many of them are unable to cope with the uncertainty and are showing signs of decompensation. There are others, in our so called “gig economy” who are not only worried about their health and safety but also of the inevitable economic consequences of the pandemic. In our country, the overwhelming majority amongst us are poor and daily wage earners. How do they survive? It is not only them who are worried about their livelihood. I spoke to my patient’s sister, who had accompanied her to my OPD. She is an IT Professional. She was anticipating that she will not have a job in next 3-4 months. She felt companies are bound to retrench staff because of the economic slowdown. 

For those of us, who are feeling bored at home. There is a plethora of options. Remember, your staying at home is not only an individual act. It is also altruism, because you are helping your own community to live. It is as simple as that. If you do not practice social distancing, you are putting the entire society at risk. Also, for those who feel bitter about being stuck at home, we need to be thankful about the fact that at least we have a ‘home’, unlike many, who live on the streets. I know it sounds harsh, but that is the reality. 
There are many things in the pandemic, we cannot control. Focus on things, which we can. You can reorganize your bookshelf, maybe pick up something which you had planned to read. Reorganise the pile of papers which keep piling up. Dig out old photographs. Play a game with children, if you have any. Ask them to guess who they could be. Make that call to an elderly relative or an old friend. 

Thank higher forces that you have enough on your plate for today. Many, as you know, often don’t. Do not worry about what will happen 2-3 days from now. The Government is doing the best they can and, in this situation, has done exceedingly well to quell panic and distress. Just remind yourself that these are uncertain time and we have to get by one day, at a time. Appreciate the fact that you can live without luxuries. You can survive without holidays, shopping trips and visiting restaurants or multiplexes. 

Limit social media. Stretch and do some physical exercise. Reflect on how a small virus has made all of us realise how precious and precarious life is. 

Finally, when this is over do not forget that this ever happened. Remember, this virus has shown that we are all equal. You cannot escape the disease by seeking treatment in another country. There are no planes to fly and no country will welcome you. Campaign for more investment in public health. If you are reading this, you do belong to a privileged class and use your resources for collective good.  Show more compassion for those who are on the frontlines and protest injustices being meted out to young healthcare workers who are served eviction notices by their landlords, as they are more prone to develop infection. It is time to act, even in your isolation, now.

Story Tag:
  • Corona Virus

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