I recounted how sitting alone at home whilst holding my phone and watching her face suddenly freeze or turn into a mass of pixels, did not feel a very therapeutic or safe space for me. As that familiar feeling of despair began to seep back in, I hoped that we could somehow come up with a way to meet face to face again.
Like everyone else, I am trying to understand my response to a virus that threatens my life and the lives of the people I love. But it also happens that for nearly 30 years I have worked as a clinical psychologist with people facing cancer, and I am noticing some parallels between what my patients have told me and what people seem to be talking about now.
Our safety systems have been alerted to differing levels since January 2020 when the coronavirus epidemic came to light. The appropriateness of this fear response needs to be highlighted, in part because it will protect us, and in part because we must normalise this response rather than viewing it as a ‘disorder’.
We need a new narrative of shared distress to replace the failed one of individual disorders. We need human connection and mutual support. We can learn to manage our feelings in a way that helps us through the crisis and gives us the energy to make much-needed social and environmental changes afterwards. The usual dividing lines melt away in the face of global emergency. We really are all in this together.