Anyone else feel like we are living in some surreal reality right now? I remember always being told as a kid not to be scared of films because they aren’t real (ok of course the true story ones are at least based on something real) yet as I sit here inside, on lockdown, isolating, social distancing and all the rest of this new ‘normal’ we are adjusting to I can’t help but think i’m cast in Contagion – not a true story, excellent book and pretty good film. Probably don’t watch it right now.

Not only that but I turn on Netflix and it has not escaped my attention of their ironic placement of films such as Contagion, Pandemic and others as a ‘Must see’.

The C word (also known as ‘the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named’) is causing a bit of upsidedness right now. We don’t make plans anymore, diaries are blank and the upcoming bank holidays don’t have the same element of relief and enjoyment as they usually do. The highlight of the week might be a Zoom with your friends/family or a virtual quiz. Turns out even in isolation I’m still crap at quizzes, however come to me for random facts as those ones I seem to have locked down (no pun intended).

2020 was going to be the year. Not necessarily sure for what exactly at least from my side but the start of a new decade brings with it a sense of reflection, change and making some new, perhaps more realistic goals than the ones you set in 2010. Currently 2020 is on pause and much of it is ‘cancelled’.

But after starting excitedly we seem to be on some terrifying roller coaster like Stealth (fastest roller coaster in the UK, if you are interested) careering towards, what feels like a very unclear future whilst desperately screaming ‘when will it end’.

It is not easy to adapt to this new way of life and I am grateful to be able to be with my partner during this time after now being rather happily stuck in the UK with him. The supermarkets now resemble a set from Supermarket Sweep and it says a lot about so many nations that our go to during this time, now making them a rare antiquity, is toilet roll along with pasta, rice and all tinned vegetables. If you are where I am you are additionally purchasing ALL of the wine, beer and crisps and chocolate.

For once at this time of year Easter Eggs are not sold out!

As I sit here wondering a little what will happen next as us very social beings are being forced into anti social behaviour, for our own safety, the profound impact that has on the mind (and body) should not be forgotten.

Whilst I am trying to make light of our situation for my own sanity as much as anything , this is also serious. Mental health issues are not something that just happen to some people. They happen to everyone its just the way we manage that and can recognise it thats important.

Hands up if you have had a little cry during this period already? It just gets a bit overwhelming right and the uncertainty is what can make it worse?

Acknowledging that its ok to not be ok is the first thing. Then why not pick up the phone (I know its crazy but remember when we used to just phone people and not text them?!) speak or video chat with someone. You could talk about rubbish and just that interaction could instantly have a positive effect.

I just bought myself some wine online (since ALL of the wine has been purchased it feels like in the supermarkets) and not joking, I added a gift message from myself to myself. It made me laugh as soon as I saw it.

Little things, sometimes thats all it takes!

I am moved by all the video clips and posts hailing our wonderful NHS as well as those of our elderly and vulnerable still finding ways to enjoy their time in isolation through song and dance and games. Finding joy in a crisis and a sense of community. So heartwarming.

There really are so many resources out there for support during this time. Whatever you might be looking for. Maybe its the virtual gyms (incl for kids), mindfulness, support groups and seminars switched online. Some of them have been there for a while but now it seems so much more prolific in a world where physical social interaction is now limited.

I know so many are struggling right now as medical procedures and fertility treatments are put on hold or cancelled so it is ever more important to find those different coping strategies. Believe me, wine is NOT a coping strategy lol!

Jokes aside this is serious. Self care should NEVER be forgotten at any time and especially not right now. Its very easy to forget ourselves at times as life gets in the way and we are understandably worried about family, elderly relatives and friends but don’t forget about you.

As a community we have to pull together and help each other. I find scheduling calls or just spontaneous calling (you know like we used to do before mobiles existed) are a great way to check in. Even a text goes a very long way.

The MRKH community are doing much the same with online and informal ‘chin wags’ now twice a week which is an excellent idea and a great way to get people together. In a time when we may already feel isolated because of our condition and then feeling more isolated as we can’t go out and interact, its easy to live in your own head. Its scary.

Right now this is a stress test and it can feel rather negative and stressful and we may feel like the Lego head on the left, understandably. But we can turn this into a positive and be more like our smiley friend on the right. Not all stress has to be negative.

We can make the stress work for us. The positive stress test is a term I have come across whilst running but it applies to many other situations. When our bodies are under stress it can be negative but we can also harness it in such a way to benefit from it.

Where we are now, the premise can be the same, we are in a stressful situation that we CAN take positives from, and I don’t just mean we can stay in our PJs all day, but we can use it as an opportunity to really connect with ourselves and with others. There is so much love, kindness and support out there.

No one needs to feel alone, unsupported or unwanted. Its ok to have a cry, to scream to shout. Acknowledge that when it happens. Don’t block it out and then plan some activities during your day to take stock and recharge. Maybe that’s going for a walk, run, call a friend – its not like any of us are busy right now!

Stay home, save lives but remember you are not alone.

Love to all right now

Charlie xx