Part 5: Our Loss of Freedom

Blog 05 Welcome to Part 5 of the Lockdown Mental Health Series. If you missed Parts 1-4 you can find them here. Lots of people I talk to are getting increasingly frustrated with the extended lockdown, and no wonder. Just think about it – what do we do to punish people for really bad crimes? Or what is a popular method of punishing a child for having been naughty? We take away their freedom to roam. Existential philosophy believes that there are 4 ‘givens’ we humans need to stay content in life: How many of these ‘givens’ are being met at this moment in time? Even if you’re a Zoom or WhatsApp or FaceTime or phoning/texting enthusiast we’ve all lost some form of connection with others. Even if you’re stuck at home with several people, it’s still not the same as having the freedom to meet up with friends and go visit other family members, or to be around colleagues. Our need for freedom has, likewise, been limited. Our freedom to roam, our freedom to make certain decisions about our daily activities, our freedom to book holidays abroad, our freedom to buy what we want when we want, our freedom to go see a dentist, a GP or the vet unless it’s an emergency, our freedom to eat out, our freedom to do an endless amount of things. We’ve also been forced to face our mortality and that of our loved ones almost overnight and that’s a big one! There are whole counselling services dedicated to just that. It’s not to be underestimated. And finally, what’s the meaning of this? Of Covid-19? We’re meaning-seeking animals and right now lots of us are facing a bit of a crisis in figuring out the meaning and purpose of things as we lose loved ones or jobs, or our sense of direction. As I’m writing these blog posts, I’m aware that they might not seem very optimistic and full of happy rainbows. And that’s sort of on purpose. It’s because it’s OK to not be overly optimistic and positive and feel full of happy rainbows during a global pandemic. It’s OK to have bad days. However, it’s also important to not give up and not feel hopeless. These blogs and the theories I’m presenting in them are to say that this is life sometimes – difficult and hard with little control and certainty – and it’s OK to struggle from time to time. It makes sense why you might be struggling just now. But there’s plenty of hope and light at the end of the tunnel too. Human are so amazingly resilient. We’ve always bounced back as a species. This too shall pass, as they say – it might pass like a kidney stone but it will pass! These blogs and theories are to give you an understanding as to what might be going on for you, or around you, to help you make sense of things. It’s to encourage you to not be so hard on yourself or others who are struggling just now because it makes sense to not be having the best time of your life. It’s to say it’s normal to feel scared, or sad, or worried, or low, or frustrated or angry – all your feelings are valid. Even if you’re feeling happy and relaxed just now, because some people are and I’ll address that next time. But remember that negative emotions are usually normal reactions to abnormal circumstances. Blog series written by Terese Smith – counsellor, dyslexic and Dyslexia Scotland blogger