Corona Virus Demons!
Last night, my demons got me! What me? Demons?! But I’m a counsellor! Surely all my demons are dealt with?
Sadly, not. I often say to clients that what we hope to find in the work we do together is awareness. Once we are aware of a problem we have the chance of finding a solution. Equally, with demons, once we are aware of them, we have some hope of learning how to manage them. That doesn’t mean they won’t prod us with their red-hot pokers ever again!
I’m a typical product of a parent with a disability and illness – I have a desperate need to make things better. It was only relatively recently that I realised that it isn’t an entirely normal part of childhood to play ‘dollies’ hospitals’ on a regular basis! My mum’s GP even gave me a toy syringe, for goodness sake! One of my heroes is Lord Shaftesbury, he who stopped children going down mines and climbing up chimneys (and falling to their deaths), a man unfailingly motivated by his faith and his compassion – but heroes, whilst inspiring, can be relentless and unhealthy drivers at times!
So in the wake of Covid 19, my demons are having a field day! How can I help? Should I be making scrubs? Bags to put scrubs in? Organising Zoom meetings for lonely people? Fund-raising for one of the many, many charities that are not health-focused and/or are events-based, and therefore desperately short of funds just now?
Or – and this is my ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ demon at work – should I be learning a new language, doing more singing practise, taking a drawing class online or teaching my dog some new tricks? (Have you seen ‘Border Collie Yoga’? It’s wonderful – but how is it even possible?!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swq9g6_5IBo
Well, the fact is, I’ve done hardly any of that, so last night I had a bout of feeling inadequate. Telephone counselling is intense and more tiring than face to face counselling, one of my sons is in lockdown on his own and is needing daily support and my usual time-table has remained more or less unchanged. Someone I know recently announced that she is currently being ‘stupendously creative’! Can you hear my teeth gnashing in frustration and envy?
The fact is that we are NOT all in this together. We are all having very different experiences of Covid 19, some way, way better than others. Mine is a very privileged experience, but is nonetheless tiring and isn’t leaving much energy for anything extra, helpful or otherwise. The most I’ve managed is to phone some friends who are in lockdown alone, send a few cards and parcels and visit some very elderly friends who’ve been happy to risk chatting in their gardens at a very safe distance: that at least breaks up the loneliness which one of them described as ‘hell’.
So…how does this personal rant help you and your well-being?
Can I suggest the following?
Learn to know your demons.
This is likely to be a time when they’re active, whatever they are. If there’s a particular voice in your head eg. ‘I should be helping more’, ‘I should be coping better’, ‘I should be making the most of this opportunity to learn something new’, ‘I should be enjoying time with my family’, track it down. Whose voice does it sound like? Who or what rammed home that message when you were little? Is it a voice you still find useful or do you want to talk back to it or listen to a kinder, more understanding voice now? This might even be a time to consider some personal therapy, if funds allow. Many therapists are offering online or telephone appointments.
Let your life speak.
What is your life showing you about your priorities? Attend to them and enjoy them, rather than worrying about a mental list of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ that you never actually get around to, but which have an insidious power to bash your self-esteem.
What are you NOT missing? What are you actively enjoying about lockdown? You may not have time or energy to change anything now, but what might change for you after lockdown has ended? I’m really enjoying the blue skies, the like of which I haven’t seen since I was a child in the sixties, so one thing I have done is some research on cargo bikes. Maybe my dog, Rosa, and I can do local journeys that are too long or too slow to walk, without jumping in the car: I don’t see less traffic and blue skies as a coincidence!
Set your intention for each day
One of the readers of this blog, recommended a wonderful book called ‘The Book of Joy’, compiled from talks between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Probably the most helpful practice I took away from it, was the idea of ‘Setting your intention’ each day. Essentially this is simply giving yourself a moment in the morning to ‘set an intention’. It could be small, specific and practical (I will write a card to a friend) or broader and more general (I will notice what I have to be grateful for). Whether we have time on our hands or feel run ragged with too many demands, if we can clarify our path through the day and our demons, it can help us feel more in control and empowered. If you want to look at this idea in more detail, this is quite a good link:
Wishing you all the very best for the next phase and may all your demons lie quietly!