Day 11 – Thursday 26th March
Since my moment of desperation on Monday, I have not felt the slightest need to go outside. I’ve been quite content indoors. This may be because I have adjusted to my new routine, helped by the fact that I’ve managed to increase my movements (my daily step count is up to 10k and I’m still doing the exercise routines). However I think it is primarily because the sun finally came out this week and I have spent a portion of each morning sitting in my sun spot in the lounge with the windows wide open soaking up the rays and breathing in fresh air. I hadn’t realised just how much I had missed the sun and how much its presence lifts my mood.
I have started to meditate for 20 minutes whilst I’m sat in the sun. Now I know that meditation is not for everyone. It is the mental health equivalent of marmite: you either love it or hate it. I am myself an indifferent meditator. I started meditating several years ago when going through an entirely different traumatic time of life. Also because I’m the type of person who likes to keep on top of these sort of trends. I’ll try most things once. I quickly realised that I do not like guided or group meditations. I prefer to meditate alone. Having someone speaking in the background whilst I’m trying to focus on my breath just irritates me. So once I fathomed out what it was all about I pretty much gave it up.
Part of the reason for this is that I was already meditating of a sort when I go on my long walks, but hadn’t realised it. I call it ‘out walking the thoughts’. If I am stressing over something and stuck in one of those annoying repetitive loops where your conscious mind just wont stop thinking about a problem you can do bugger all about, then I go for a walk. I keep walking until my conscious mind shuts the hell up. Usually for the first half hour I will imagine every possible action I could take and its consequences. After a while my thoughts start to follow the rhythm of my feet and eventually there is nothing but my feet going one in front of the other in blissful silence. It’s at this point my subconscious lets me know what we’re going to do regardless of what the rest of me may think about the matter. Always go with your subconscious. It will make your life a misery otherwise.
Clearly long rambling walks are not allowed right now so I will have to go back to the more traditional method of focusing on the breath. It is a lot easier to do this when you are sat in a nice sunny spot with fresh air. I even have my own special meditation chair. It’s always been in my lounge but I’ve never sat on it before as you can’t see the television very well from that corner. I usually slob on the sofa right in front of the TV. Turns out it is a super comfy chair, which can be easily moved to be in direct sunlight. Perfect!
When you meditate you usually take a moment at the start to check in with your body and with your mind to see how you feel. My body feels pretty damn good at the moment. The new exercise routine seems to be working. My mind felt calm. Unusual, perhaps, given the current circumstances but the reality is I am already doing everything I can to keep myself and my loved ones safe. With any problem I will always gather as much valid information as I can, spend time sorting the wheat from the chaff (super important in these days of fake news), discuss it with those important to me and then do what we all agree on. After this it is time to let the problem go. Further worrying at this point is counter productive. I appreciate that this is easier said than done, but I am sure there will be plenty of opportunity to stress and worry further before this virus is over. Best I save myself for when the rest of the shit starts hitting the fan. For now put it all to one side and stop thinking about it. There is nothing more I can do at the moment.
Social media is awash with posts and videos of desperately emotional people. Those working on the frontline and struggling to cope with the life and death decisions they are having to make. Those whose relatives are in hospital with this virus and they are unable to visit. Those whose relatives have died and they could not be there. I do not share these posts as I have no desire to spread more fear and worry. It was clear this was coming our way. That is why we are all in isolation. What did people think flattening the curve meant?
What we didn’t expect was that it would hit so quickly. It seems one day you’re living a normal happy life, then suddenly you’re in a world of life and death decisions with bodies piling up and no way of knowing if you or your loved ones will be one of the 80% plus who survive this disease at home, or one of the up to 20% who may need hospital treatment. Even worse what if you’re one of the 10% plus who needs intensive care and possibly join the numbers who die (whose figures I haven’t checked lately but previously varied between 1% to 4%, in fact I’d advise you take all my figures with a pinch of salt because the official stats are constantly changing).
It is this 10% plus that is overwhelming the hospitals. It is a huge number that our current intensive care units were not set up to deal with. There isn’t enough medical equipment or staff. That is why they are having to prioritise who gets the medical equipment available on those who are most likely to survive, then ease the rest from life with sedatives. An awful decision to make and my heart goes out to the medical staff, who must be physically and mentally exhausted. That is why we are all staying at home folks, to ease this incredible burden our health workers are carrying, and to keep ourselves and our most vulnerable safe.
I do not write these things to add to the scare mongering. Remember far more people survive than die, well over 90% if the stats are accurate. I point these things out because it is the reality we are living with in Madrid, and could easily become the reality for the rest of you. Viruses know no boundaries, care not about race or culture. To a virus you and I are just a large petri dish in which they can breed. Until a vaccine or workable anti virals are found, we have no real control over how each of our immune systems will react should be catch the disease.
What we can do is keep our loved ones socially close, if not physically. Now is the time to talk and be there for one another (albeit over the internet or phone), so that should you or they fall ill and you are unable to be with them to hold their hand (which you won’t be able to if they go into hospital) then they will go knowing they are loved and with warm memories to carry them through. That’s why almost everyday I am on the phone or FaceTime with someone important to me. It’s what helps me to remain calm.