Tag Archives: coronavirus

World Leaders and Us

As coronavirus rips through our nations taking too many lives, the shock wave of illness and death is grinding slowly to a halt as fear about the financial implications takes over as the foremost consequence of this killer pandemic, demonstrating that after the threat of death, financial ruin comes close behind.

Every country moves at a different rate out of full lock down, each one looking to the next to see what is working and what is not, balancing re-opening the economy while minimising the risk of a second spike in covid-19 cases. I don’t envy world leaders their difficult task. While coronavirus exposes underlying health issues and mercilessly robs people of their loved ones, so too does it expose world leaders who did not make their nation’s health a priority. Some countries, such as Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany moved quickly to prioritise the nation’s health and while they had fatalities, it was a fraction of the countries who favoured the economy over the elderly, finance over front line workers.

Here in the UK over 35,000 people have died since mid-March. A shocking loss to the country. These are not statistics but lives, hopes, dreams; voters who went to the polls last December and voted for their political leaders. The issue of the day was getting Brexit done. Few focused on health care and the repercussions of an underfunded NHS (National Healthcare System). The election running field was pretty much one sided with the Tories galloping home. Fast forward three months to early March and the onset of the pandemic; the Prime Minister fell at the first hurdle, and the rest of the field scrambled to avoid disaster. Sadly, they did not succeed. Britain is not the only country whose political hierarchy were exposed by the pandemic. Capitalist leaders who begrudgingly enforced a lock down, too late in many cases, demonstrated that administrations value money over lives.

I wonder what we can learn from our leaders, not just in our own country but from the leaders around the world. Do they reflect aspects in all of us, part empathy, part materialistic? How often do we weigh up the monetary cost above the social or civic cost? The mental health implications arising from not just the lock down, but from the national and international loss of life, will be great. We humans have more in common than we have differences. One thing that unites us is our emotions, our ability to feel happiness and joy, grief and sadness. The months of coronavirus have cast a long shadow over humanity, which may take years to lift.

Our leaders are really just a reflection of us, our light and our shadow, only they are the ones in the spotlight, the ones we abdicate responsibility to. Maybe it’s time to put ourselves under the spotlight, to asses our empathy, to see if we favour finance over health, and comfort over caution. We are all in this together, and it is up to us to keep taking steps towards a better future. We can’t continue to put responsibility for important issues in the hands of government and blame them when they get it wrong. While it is up to us to hold those in power accountable, we can’t fall into a comatose state in front of the TV and then rail against our world leaders for the state of the world. We must educate ourselves on environmental and health issues, and the long term implication these have on us as humans and the rest of the planet. If humanity is to survive, we the people, are its only hope.

Collette O’Mahony 22/05/2020

Art by @the.rebel.bear. Graffiti Street Art on Bath Street, Glasgow.

Our Existential Crisis

It is our existential right as humans to define what life means to us. As adult humans, we have freedom to choose how we want to live our lives, who we want to see, what we want to do, and where we want to go within the parameters of the law. That was up until five weeks ago.

Up until the global pandemic forced us indoors, people based their decisions on rational facts despite living in an irrational universe. Suddenly, rationality has become irrational. Calling round to our parents or friends house is off limits. Our Sunday stroll in the park or driving to the beach is taboo, and meeting up socially in bars and cafes is strictly off limits. Within a few short weeks we have to completely redefine the parameters of our existence and what life means to us.

In normal times, we perform a list of activities that form radials into the outer world. Now, these lines fanning out from our core are contracting and moving inward. This brings frustration, isolation and may trigger deeper traumas leading to abuse and addiction. Without our usual outlets we find ourselves truly alone with our thoughts. This brings us to the existential meaning of life. If I am not my job, my activities, my routine, who am I? Am I afraid of dying, or am I afraid of living?

As the radials that form the outer aspects of our life continue to contract, our life is no longer lived solely on the surface, but starts to sink deeper on the vertical, to the core of our being. This is a golden opportunity for us as individuals and as a collective species to question our existence; Why are we here? What purpose do we serve? Are we here just to satisfy our basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter? Surely we have surpassed our basic needs at this point in our evolution. We live is a society where the basic needs have been far exceeded. We have come a long way in terms of living conditions and technology from our Hunter Gatherer fore bearers. Our basic requirements to live a simple life have long surpassed rudimentary housing, organic food and hand-made clothes. That changed post-war during the mid-twentieth century. Our tastes as a society require home comforts, processed foods and high street fashion. Most of us don’t stop there, we change our décor every few years to keep up with the latest trends, our fridge-freezers are packed to capacity and we send our wardrobe cast-offs to the recycling centre and charity shops every season so we can buy more clothes. Our precious gift of freewill has been compromised by fear and desire. Fear of not having enough, and desire for more than what we could possibly need.

We are an evolving consciousness. We are a way for the universe to become aware of itself. With physical evolution, a natural change in environment prompts a species to evolve to adapt to the change in order to survive. As humans, we have brought about an ‘artificial’ change in our environment leading to climate change. The earth has responded by restricting human movement. To adapt and escape the confines of lockdown we need to change our thinking, how we relate to our environment. This is the evolution of consciousness required if we are to remain in harmony with the planet. It is up to every one of us to take responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions as they relate to others and our precious earth. As Gandhi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world.

Collette O’Mahony 24/04/2020

The War Against Ourselves

As we enter a further three weeks of lock down in a national and global effort to halt the spread of coronavirus, people are beginning to wonder if there is any end in sight. Loneliness and isolation are having an impact on people’s mental health, so too is close proximity to spouses, children, parents and siblings for longer periods of time that in normal circumstances. The lonely, long to be near friends and family, and those in family groups or dysfunctional relationships, long to be left alone. Being alone with our own thoughts and the shadows they throw across the mind is a daunting prospect, something I can attest to but so too, is living in close quarters with a person who is controlling and manipulative. In both scenarios we must either face up to our thoughts and feelings about the situation or be consumed by them. The war against the virus has become the war against ourselves.

One thing I know for sure, life is transient and this current situation will pass. It is our underlying thoughts and belief systems that can leave us feeling victimised and overwhelmed. Depression casts a long shadow across our inner light duping us to believe life is unfair and hopeless. But despair not, there is a way through the darkness. When I found myself in such hopeless circumstances eight years ago, surrounded by damning thoughts, which in turn attracted hostile living conditions, I realised no one could save me but myself. Having a victim mentality only gives others power over you, particularly a controlling personality. No matter what the intentions, whether to exploit or to advise, giving someone control over your emotions leads to high emotional anxiety and mental agitation. The way out for me was by owning my emotions, the anger, the grief, the guilt and the despair. The underlying unfelt emotions fuelled a barrage of difficult thoughts which in turn darkened my view of myself and those around me. Owning my feelings, no matter how painful, led to a release from my emotional and mental imprisonment, which in turn set me free from a toxic living arrangement.

Depression goes undetected in many people, it is only when there is a threat to life that it is diagnosed. The unfortunate effect of depression in some cases is the alienation of family and friends. In many cases, the person is unaware of what is happening to their mental and emotional state, their fear of pushing away loved ones causes them to bury their feelings. Tragically it is only after a suicide attempt, the gravity of mental illness is highlighted to family members.

In many ways, we are all trying to flee from our damning thoughts through our busy lifestyles. When that is suspended due to the current worldwide pandemic, we have nowhere to run. We can try to fill the extra time with chores, gardening, Netflix, alcohol and food. As the time drags on into further weeks of lockdown and possibly months, anyone affected by dark thoughts and anxiety will have to face the cause. The cause is unfelt emotions lurking in the subconscious from past fears and trauma.

Set your intention for healing and awareness, for mental and emotional well being. Spend quality time alone, try not to avoid loneliness, rather try to understand why you are lonely. Listen to the inner voice as you would a loved one. Putting someone else at the centre of your world through dependence leaves you weak and vulnerable. It takes time to change a habit of a lifetime. Take small steps toward your liberation, by sitting for ten to fifteen minutes each morning in a meditative state. Thoughts will come and go, some mildly looking for attention, others aggressively trying to take you away from inner peace. Let them be. Sink deeper into the feeling body, feel where the sensation arises in your body, this is the fuel that causes thought. Be with the emotion as long as you can, by giving full attention to the feeling it will be released. This may be experienced as deep sobs or a sharp sensation, either way by releasing the emotion, it can no longer fuel shadow thoughts.

By putting ourselves at the centre of our world we can best be available to others. Be kind to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the bar for how others treat you. In the words of Ram Dass, ‘We are all just walking each other Home.’

Collette O’Mahony 18/04/2020

Image; Brooke Shaden

The shadow virus

There is a parallel rate of infection happening as we move through the global pandemic caused by coronavirus. Moving along one line is the infection rate arising from the virus and also alarmingly, is a shadow line indicating the mental infection in the population from fear and anxiety. The fallout is enormous.

Being denied basic rights such as freedom of movement and a job to earn a living causes a restless and potentially eruptive energy in the general population. Lock downs around the world are in place because there is no known way to immunise or treat covid-19. However, there have been several warnings, since the SARS virus in 2002, of a serious threat to the global community should another coronavirus make the leap from animals to humans.

According to the World Health Organisation, one person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. Several governments across the world say they are committed to improving mental health and reducing the number of deaths from suicide. Yet, these are the countries who ignored the World Health Organisation’s warning about another coronavirus pandemic, failing to put in place a contingency plan. When the prediction finally materialised as covid-19, their only response, given the lack of planning, was to enforce national lock downs. While this is proving to slow the rate of viral infection, it adds to the anxiety and stress of the population, particularly the most vulnerable. Even the mentally robust individual is wilting under the hot house of social distancing and being shut off from their loved ones living in other households.

The tide of coronavirus came like a massive tsunami across the world making it too late to run for cover. The measures being taken to stop the spread of the virus are having severe impacts on the most vulnerable sections of society, the elderly and those with mental health issues. So while we receive death tolls as graphs on a page, each life that adds to that line is someone’s wife, father, mother, son.

The invisible line that shadows the death from covid-19 is the rate of deaths from suicide. The child who can’t take another moment of being cooped up with his abusive parent, the young girl who is continually sexually abused by the man who is meant to protect her. The husband who slips further into despair as his wife hurls verbal abuse at his inadequacies, or the woman who uses make-up to hide her black eye from her children.

There are many questions to be asked about the inadequate preparation for a global pandemic, but more importantly we have a question to ask ourselves, individually and nationally; Can we continue to ignore our mental health and well being? We must invest, not just money, but time and effort into mindfulness, inner peace and meditation. Spend a few moments on conscious breathing. The more we watch our breathing, the deeper it becomes. Feel gratitude for this simple process that keeps us alive. Our immune system depends on it. Our well being depends upon it. We never know how much we depend on something until it is taken away, in some cases we find new ways to adapt. But that is not the case with breathing. There is no substitute for it, if we stop breathing we die.