Surviving Covid #1 Mental health ignored?

Mental health has been a significant but much ignored issue of the Covid pandemic. Take a moment to consider the impact on all of us caused by travel restrictions, isolation, social distance rules, closure of pubs, restaurants and cafes, loss of income, education suspended, and of course the fear of infection and death. Imagine opening a Christmas cracker in 2019 with your Christmas Day meal and finding this list of restrictions as a prediction for your life in 2020! You would have dismissed it out of hand ……………. but it was real, it happened to ALL of us. Whether you are young or old, male or female, rich or poor, your mental health has suffered. Maybe by degree, but it HAS suffered! And dangerously….. it’s being poorly recognised, just like the proportion of an iceberg below the water being more dangerous to ships than that above the water ……. it’s unseen.

I believe strongly that the media has contributed significantly to our mental decay, though I have only the U.K. media as my experience. Factual reporting has disappeared, opinions and criticism rules OK! Every step our government took was wrong, every step was pulled apart by opposition political parties, “celebrities”, journalists and ex politicians with an axe to grind. I also believe that this “political” negativity fuelled that fear, and that when combined with the restriction of freedoms, has been a major contributor to the general fall in mental health we have all felt. It will have taken supreme efforts by many people to mitigate this effect. Some will have relied on the strength of their relationship with a spouse or partner, others will have found new means of distraction such as reading more books, bingeing on Netflix, and many will have turned to their religious faiths or spirituality. In the case of Dr C and I it was our Buddhist beliefs and a little knowledge of Epicurean philosophy that sustained us. They are connected, and the clue is in these two quotes from ancient texts:

The secret of happiness is in the diathesis (our disposition) of which we are sole arbiters.”

Epicurus follower, Diogenes of Oenoanda

“All states of being are determined by mind.”

Buddha, in The Dhammapada

In essence they are both saying the same thing, that WE actually CHOOSE our thoughts, our immediate feelings or emotions and that our mind rules us ….. In Buddhism this is exemplified by the Sutra of the Arrows; imagine you get a pain in your stomach, this is the first arrow, but then we immediately start worrying and thinking negatively of all of the dangerous things it could be, this is the second arrow and we make it worse when we worry about it for days before starting to read about and consider that it’s cancer. Our state of being has been determined by our own minds of which we are the sole arbiters, to combine the two quotes above.

From the early summer of 2020 Dr C and I began to realise that our overall mental health was falling, we missed travelling abroad, we missed having meals and wine tastings with our daughter and her husband, we dreaded watching the media as everything was so negative, our lives had become a mindless routine of living in isolation with no variety. We needed to deal with it and our early steps were firstly to STOP watching all of the news channels on TV, especially the BBC, secondly to find reliable websites that gave reasonably reliable data about Covid especially infections, vaccinations and deaths, thirdly to watch and listen to ONLY government briefings on TV rather than media interpretations and opinionated critiques of what was said. As an aside and a rationale for this, we read a website Order Order from a Guido Fawkes persona that regularly exposed people appearing on the main media channels who were introduced as a “scientific advisor” or an “infection biochemist” or a “pandemic expert” who were in fact left wing, Marxist, political opponents of government but which was never revealed. Similarly he exposed outright media lies about hospitals being full/overrun and a shortage of beds, ventilators and a shortage of nurses. The worst ones have been concerning the efficacy of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine, propagated by the EU especially Germany and France, and multiplied by the duplicitous reporting of the media.

Negative propaganda about the Oxford AZ vaccine

So, faced with so much bombardment from negative propaganda hour after hour on the news channels and day after day in the newspapers, is it any wonder that mental health has suffered? And so in my next two post to follow this week I will highlight the philosophy from Ancient Greece, and Epicurus in particular, in relation to Covid related mental health, followed by a post on a Buddhist perspective to the same problem. In the meantime what have been your own experiences of Covid from a mental health perspective?



Categories: Philosophy & Psychology, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Very Good and Informative article. Thanks for sharing such piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes NEGATIVE has been the big word and with hindsight I think we all should have watched and listened less to the media. I wouldn’t venture to suggest who the ‘experts’ really are that pontificate daily, hourly, but I agree we get sucked in to listening to them without any idea if they know any more than the rest of us! Being widowed last year ( not by Covid ) I just had to make a decision to be positive; many people were having a far worse time and what can you do but keep going? Family, gardening, living by the sea, writing, blogging even aquiring Lego all helped.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Brilliant, well said. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, to lose a partner must be an indescribable experience, not happened to us yet 🤞 but we lost our son 24 years ago …….. it still hurts! But your approach is almost identical to my own, except the Lego 👍👍😂 Thank you so much for your comment, I have 3 more posts to come in the series.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Interesting to see how you will apply philosophy to the present situation.
    Having been an English and Philosophy student, I refer back to my studies of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’ The concept of the mind being ‘its own place’ and the expression that it can make a Heaven of Hell and vice versa has always been something on which I have liked to ponder.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, Paradise Lost is often quoted by modern day philosophers. What currently started to interest me is how ancient philosophers plus Buddha would have interpreted our mental health decline related to a pandemic. There’s lots to relate to and use. Just woke up, feeling good, “wanna go home”. 👍

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I completely agree with what you have to say. I know we have been lucky as we are retired and our income hasn´t been affected by the pandemic. However, I cannot get back to Canada to see my children and grandchildren and that upsets me. also, my mother passed away in March of this year and I couldn´t say goodbye. That was tough. But, I have to remind myself that I have a good life in sunny Spain in a safe corner too. Limiting watching the news is a good thing. Bith quotes are perfect. Thanks. And good luck with your operation. Sending positive thoughts your way.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You know what, I’ve been absolutely fine. I’ve focused on what I have, not what I haven’t. I’ve kept in touch with my two sisters – my only family – and friends on FaceTime. To compensate being unable to eat out, I’ve created memorable events at home and plenty of picnics out. Of course, it helps that there’s no one other than my husband that I’d rather spend time with. We’ve kept up our sporting activities and watched plenty of sport on the television. We haven’t binged on Netflix instead we’ve used our subscription to Apple music to discover lots of new artists. Last summer we enjoyed rediscovering the beautiful area where we live and we’ll be following suit this summer. However, I also appreciate that I’ve been very fortunate.

    Liked by 3 people

Trackbacks

  1. Surviving Covid #2 Mental health from Ancient Greece – Buddha Walks Into A Wine Bar ….
  2. Surviving Covid #3 Mental Health From Buddha – Buddha Walks Into A Wine Bar ….

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: