Today is the first day of the rest of your life. This statement is clichéd. Nevertheless, I find it coming into my mind these days. I expected this third lockdown.
Yet, when it was officially announced I felt inner panic. Could I cope with the isolation again? Could we handle it as a family and a business? The answers to the questions have to be a resounding “yes,” because we must.
Our choices are dictated, our travel movements curtailed and social interactions terminated. This is life for now.
I’m a great believer in living in the moment and getting on with whatever needs doing. I’ve decided to do it with positivity and I’m finding that as a result; I’m calmer and accepting of the situation.
Many of the socialisers who decided to take the chance have suffered by getting COVID-19 themselves or being close contacts
One of the most difficult things to rationalise is our judgement of others. I have to admit to being cross with the people who went ahead with their family gatherings and did not stay away from the pubs in order to protect the rest of us. Again and again in this fight against corona virus, we’ve seen people abandon their civic duty to others for their own personal entertainment. Just because the pubs were open, just because groups met up every year was not an excuse to abandon personal responsibility.
This is true but blaming others and dwelling on their negative behaviour does nothing for our wellbeing. They will do enough of that for themselves. I’m trying to keep it out of my conversations because it only drags me into negative thoughts. Many of the socialisers who decided to take the chance have suffered by getting COVID-19 themselves or being close contacts. So for them it has resulted in 10 or 14 days of further isolation and I’ve no doubt that there is a lot of anxiety associated with that space.
Whatever the circumstances of transmission of the virus we must be sympathetic and compassionate towards anyone unfortunate enough to contract the virus. If someone got the flu in the past; it was almost a badge of honour. Being open about having the virus or isolating is important in order to protect others and alert them as to how close the virus is circulation. Last lockdown I knew nobody with COVID-19, now the number has run into double figures.
The decision-making around the schools remaining closed, the accommodations for Leaving Certificate students and those students with additional needs has been unfortunate and traumatic for some. We are in a terribly difficult situation. The Government and NPHET are trying to get the decisions right.
Families that have students who’s needs demand constant supervision, care and interaction are struggling. Some students with intellectual disabilities or on the autistic spectrum, or both, need school and flourish on routine. It is the rock that keeps them calm and grounded in reality, allowing them to cope with sensory tensions that are sometimes so overwhelming as to physically hurt. Imagine if being touched by someone was like a physical burn or clothes next to your skin a constant irritation.
Visualise that today you cannot communicate in any way with another human being and you are so overwhelmed that you lash out against the people you love
Consider also that the noises of everyday life could mean that you need to wear earmuffs constantly just to cope with being with your family or peers. Visualise that today you cannot communicate in any way with another human being and you are so overwhelmed that you lash out against the people you love or those who teach you or support you. The problem is that we can only visualise or imagine. We don’t understand.
It’s time for radical thinking
While it is not possible for students with additional needs to attend school now; teachers, myself included, will do their utmost to remotely support these students.
How, then, are students with additional complex needs to be supported that cannot access online content? It’s time for radical thinking. I suggest that this group, their families and the people who support them are prioritised for vaccination so that they can resume their normal routines. I consider them a vulnerable group. That would give families hope and would help them to accept the situation as it is now.
It is not easy to have patience when struggling. I return to the advice to take one day at a time. We will get out of this. Make this day the first day of the rest of your life and then decide to make it a positive one.