Corona Words

Lucy Stooksbury

I’m going to start with enduring disbelief. Disbelief with the situation at all stages. Talking to students in the week before lockdown, them trying to calculate from early, sparse statistics, how many of us in the room were likely to get seriously ill or die; me thinking, and saying, it’ll be ok; Easter holidays will probably just be extended; don’t worry – we’ve finished the syllabus! Disbelief with the incompetence shown by some people in positions of authority and the outrageous flouting of safety guidelines. Stopped watching the news.

Maybe grateful comes next, in hugely different guises. Being grateful to neighbours for small and large gestures of kindness and help. A loo roll, some flour, a wave. Thanking my lucky stars that I already had Google Classroom up and running for my classes; grateful to the colleague who helped me set it up back in August. Back to disbelief as no clear direction came regarding expectations, back up and systems. The huge gratitude, of course, to the NHS staff. Clapping? Heart-warming in many ways, controversial in others. Grateful for all the people close to me and the place in which I live. Hugely thankful that a February weekend spent in Venice brought us nothing back to the UK but fun memories.

Noticing new things each day on walks; ducklings, cygnets, butterflies. Exploring new routes on bikes and on foot. Noticing mood changes in myself and my family with each up and down that lockdown brought and brings; furlough, remote school, no exams, anger, frustration, disappointment. A whole study in human reaction to crisis with many surprises, good and sad. Back to speechless disbelief in some cases. Constantly learning new skills, adopting new systems, noticing that I may never go back to some things I thought I relied on. Noticing the weeds grow really quickly in the garden!

Anxiety levels rising and falling for all, replaced sometimes by new resolves, demotivation, low mood or optimism. Time has both gone both quickly and curiously slowly. Establishing patterns to help maintain momentum and sanity, as well as trying to avoid bad habits that lead back to stress and anxiety. Disbelief again at disproportionate pockets of pressure imposed on colleagues by the system and the press, and the lack of support, clarity, and strong leadership. Loss of exercise and diet motivation; where did that go? Resilience training that highlighted important things to remember but brought with it the disbelief that anything other than lip service will ever be given to truly support children’s mental health.

Unprecedented times leading to new pathways and closing others. Loss of lives both expected and unexpected. Grief, shock and nice memories all wrapped up in a strange bundle. Leading to life change thoughts, maybe even actions. New jobs, careers, retirement. Investment of time, money perhaps, in an area undiscovered before March. Before disbelief became a normal daily feeling about the pandemic, government, and systems. Something that would mean putting oneself in a position of belief. That would be peaceful.