Question What is it about this seemingly dirty and soiled word that has many recoiling as though struck? As though a memory from a distant past has returned like a forgotten thrown smelly damp sock, and hit dead centre – on the forehead?
Douse Shame Brené Brown has discussed, as a thing that can be lessened by bringing it out into the light. It’s power is removed by our tongues movement, in sharing with trusted others how, why, when and with whom the event happened. Give the shame experience no-where to hide. Shame cannot survive out in the light. Empathy, Compassion and receiving love and understanding will make shame shrivel and die!
Triangle Hilary Jacobs Handel has written about an open-hearted state we can all arrive at, if we follow the steps in her book ‘It’s Not Always Depression’. This great book looks at the change triangle and how a person using Hilary’s model with support can blow past depression and anxiety to become a functioning person accepting past hurts and living.
Dance Kimberley Cato has mentioned that when we get through to the other side of this thing (mental wellbeing and finding mental health) and have done most of the heavy lifting with the process of healing we get to dance in sunshine. I like to think of dancing joyously in whatever the weather.
Design Joshua Isaac Smith has shared that once we really get moving, and let go of our trauma, pain and shame. We find ourselves at peace. It is here that we move beyond the story and begin writing and designing a script we want to live inside of.
During So how do we get there? It sounds like a space that is too good to be true. After being involved with therapy for over 10 years as a counsellor/coach/consultant I have seen much of the before, lots of the during and some amazing aftereffects of working through past pains with clients.
I shared with a group of interested attendees and a panel of mental health professionals some of my ideas on shame. The event hosted by Kimberly Cato for True Roots Counselling Services was the 2nd in a series she has hosted discussing Black Mental Health concerns for the African Diaspora living in Canada and in the Americas.
Contact Kimberly for more information about the next MH awareness discussion. The conversations are informative and illuminating inviting attendees to realise, we are no longer alone!
I wanted to revisit the story of invisible wounds that are carried with us into adulthood. To look somemore at where Jill’s story ends and how and why Mos Def’s story begins. The reason: Psychological concepts live in us and are always present. Love Rains offers not just insight but also understanding.
Jill Scott Now me non clairvoyant and in love, Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible. The rain was falling, And I couldn’t see the season changing, And the vibe slipping off its axis. Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato. The…rain…was..falling…and…I…could not…see..that…I..was…to…be Plowed… And sown and fertilised, and left to drown in his sunny afternoon, Cumulus clouds, 84 degrees,
Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens. The mistake was made, love slipped from my lips, Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap, And Us became nu. Now me non clairvoyant and in love Made me the fool You were never true If you didn’t want me, ah, you should have let me know All you did was make a mockery of Something so Incredible, beautiful I honestly did love you So
Immature What then? Both hurt, but for two differing reasons. What follows is time healing and recovering from that pain of loss. Until it is met again and perhaps both can learn how to survive the intimacy and complications that romantic love can bring. For some, men can be less emotionally aware, less in tune with body-mind-emotion connections. Men can feel that shame and fear are the same and do not spend time investigating to understand their differences. Until an adulting experience happens. They are met by circumstances that force change. Then they do. Then they can. Then they will. Willingly facing the denial of their first hurts and begin the process of healing.
Throne Making Mos Def’s piece blew me away when I first heard it. It still does. No poem before or after had ever exalted and re-set the Black woman so perfectly, I wanted to possess and inhabit these words and the intention behind them, to make right the many centuries of wrong hurt blame shame and pain. This too is my shame. In a word I am sorry for the wrongs that I and my ken have brought to you. I want to make peace with you: Queen.
Mos Def: I stretched my arms towards the sky like blades of tall grass. The sun beat between my shoulders like carnival drums. I sat still in hopes that it would help my wings to grow, So that I could really be fly. And then she arrived, Like day break inside a railway tunnel, Like the new moon, like a diamond in the mines, like high noon to a drunkard, sudden. She made my heart beat in a now/now time signature. Her skinny canvas for ultraviolet brushstrokes; She was the sun’s painting. She was a deep cognac color; Her eyes sparkled like lights along the new city. Her lips pursed as if her breath was too sweet and full for her mouth to hold. I said, “you are the beautiful, distress of mathematics.” I said, “For you, I would peel open the clouds like new fruit; Give you lightning and thunder as a dowry. I would make the sky shed all of its stars like rain, I would clasp the constellations across your waist and I would make the heavens your cape, And they would be pleased to cover you. They would be pleased to cover you, May I please cover you? Please”
Heady For me there is little in the way that speaks of adoration and reverie to honour or emits love much better than this. The poem can be interpreted as if to say I am sorry – and somehow yet, still more.
That an idyll can be obtained and brought about between Women and Men in this tale. ‘I see you, have loved you, am in love with you. With you, greater than I could ever be without you. And for that, I will share all that I am and more with you.’ That’s what I interpret in Mos Def’s verse.
The story in the remix offers a safe turn around to what is a well-known and pre-destined ending to love: Loss. Defeat. Endings.
As a result of the Kaemotherapy counselling offer, a number of Black women have been accessing my free workshops on 21st century mental health. I’ll write up my findings about the workshops soon.
Supporting Black women and men have become primary targets for my therapeutic support. There is great work to be completed and I am glad to have found a role that leads to overall wellbeing and health for more people. Resources Goddesses of the Roundtable Healing The Father Wound Brené Brown Unlocking Us Podcast Ask Me Anything Tony Porter T.E.D. Talk A Call To Men
I wrote a few weeks ago about the experience of some people suffering trauma by witnessing harm come to another. Reminding them of their own hurts and past experiences of pain. Writing about Rodney King and then George Floyd has opened the door to an even earlier experience with Stephen and his jacket.
Big or Little T Trauma? Last week I wrote about the chase by police of me on my bike for reasons unknown. This week I wanted to discuss a first trauma. Yes there were others. The event was momentous as I had not been treated like this by anyone. I was about 7. It was summer. My friend ‘T’ and I were taking it in turns to ride my bike around the estate. The bike a black and yellow Cinzia, was my most treasured Christmas present! The bike was a sort of hybrid BMX.
Summer It was another hot summer 1979/1980. We kids were not up to much. Playing around the blocks of flats, killing ants, making and firing peg guns at each other and at pigeons. Harassing each other for rides on each others bikes. Playing knock down Ginger. Asking about who’s going to the shop? Because those half penny cola bottle sweets were so tangy and sweet. Tangmere used to have it all. Something unknown to my 7 year old awarness made all of the shops shut and never re-open.
Intimidate T had somehow met Stephen and been impolitely requested to give him a go of my bike. I believe Stephen had chased T and pulled him off the bike! Stephen was an older kid, maybe 10 or 11. He carried himself with some swagger. I can remember him (Stephen) pulling wheelies and doing long skids along the pavement. Treating (trashing) my bike in a disrespectful and in a way I found unapologetic in manner. Like the bike was his! I was angered by this. T may have told me what had just happened to him. I became livid I can remember. A thought I had was, this could be a case for the Red Hand Gang! But they weren’t around so, I could make this situation better all by myself.
Propulsion I ran at Stephen and shouted give me my bike back! He ignored me and sailed past. I gave chase. Screaming. Shouting. Wanting. My bike back! We met at Martlesham or Croydon one of those housing blocks on the estate. Stephen had sneered a warning to others who were gathered earlier: “if anyone touches my jacket. You’re dead.” He, Stephen, serious, warned. Me oblivious and not hearing, ignored.
Martlesham and Croydon were 5, 6 or 7 stories high with garden units at their lowest housing level. Both blocks had little to no outdoor space higher up the blocks, unless you counted the landings. All of the housing blocks had double height under building car parks. Our show down (mine and Stephen’s) was to take place in one of the car parks – later. The estate had many outdoor green park spaces dotted throughout the collection of buildings at ground level.
Engagement I think I shoved him in the back, or on the shoulder. Committing the mortal foul of touching his jacket. He had warned all who had cared to listen. But I shoved and he went ballistic. I believe that I started running before my bike hit the ground. Before Stephen started swearing. Before Stephen repeated he would hurt me after he managed to catch me. My feet took me away. At great speed. Fear is a phenomenally great accelerator.
Distance I ran. He chased. Back then aged 7. I was Nike. Fleet of foot. Good at bulldog, the running tag game. The 60m dash. The 100m sprint. But distance races I had not spent my time running. Now Stephen was quick too, and run as I might I could not lose him. He relentlessly gained on me. Swearing. I thought I could make it home, but his gallop closed down that line of escape. I turned away from racing home to Tangmere 119. To dodging between parked cars. Feeling that if I could use the cars to hide me I could evade capture.
Scared I ran for my life. Petrified. I feared that Stephen would finish me. He had said just that! This was happening and whilst in disbelief, I ran. Who threatens who about a Jacket? A jacket! Possession and custody of things I understood on some level. I put my body in harms way to get my bike back. This need felt justified. Right. Believable. Stephen’s need seemed trivial, petty. Unjustified. Stephen wanted to hurt me because he viewed his jacket as sovereign. I had mistakenly entered sacred space. Spoilt thread by touch and so here we were. Lion and gazelle in a death defying race. I feared for my life and ran away to protect it.
Relief He caught me under Martlesham and punched me a number of times. Head. Neck. Body shots. I wish I could tell you I took them all like a man and didn’t give him the satisfaction of witnessing a tear fall. I believe I cried from one side of the estate to the other. I cried up all the stairs to the top floor of Tangmere and when I got to my door which thankfully was opened by my mum. I went in and told her what had happened. She incensed. The bike left and forgotten where it lay. T later returned the bike.
Many – One Lost in my mayhem of thoughts and sorrow. I was not out for revenge. I wanted the pain and the sense of defeat at being outrun to pass. The reason – I was fast and rarely beaten in a running battle! There was the curious case of Darren. I wanted not to remember the embarrassment of losing a fight to an older boy. I vaguely remember T trying to defend me either running beside as a distractor or getting in the way of Stephen. Stephen had singled me out to exact his vengeance. And so found – was punished.
Prey The lion had found his prey and was set to claim his spoils. Remembering this painful memory does a number of things. I get to remember and release the pain that has been embedded in me for almost 40 years. There is also the courage to look at past hurts and witness the learning. I recognise that my experience of the chase trauma bears little resemblance to George Floyd’s murder or Rodney King’s assault. What I am doing is reclaiming my experience of terror. Providing an understanding of an unjust event and by doing so, allowing myself to relieve the experience of a trauma witnessed vicariously. It’s narrative therapy.
If My want in writing this series is that you the reader come away with an understanding of the term Vicarious Trauma that is personally enhanced. That the resources below support compassion and a commitment to live within an anti-racist frame, and that you comment below on these thoughts.
An odd moment arrived recently when reviewing the past few weeks of protests, stating the now ubiquitous ‘Black Lives Matter’. The movement, for me, blended with the ending scenes from the movie Kung-Fu Panda 3. The idea is somewhat out there, and will probably not land safely. If you have not seen the movie or are unfamiliar with the KFP franchise the idea will land ever more askew!
Unity In the final scenes of Kung-Fu Panda 3, a village of pandas step forward after defeating a marauding wolf pack and put out there paws to save the hero, Po.
Demonstrating The scene clearly demonstrates the now common idea that in unity, a great wrong can be put right. That a Black and White hero can defeat a Demi God! Inviting a village/world to heal long held wounds and restore itself to a bright and limitless future. The idea has long been held. The story has also been told since human beings have walked the earth.
Together we stand. Divided we fall!
Touch With Po (Hero) in the spirit world, feeling the hands/paws reaching out and lifting him up. Po gains the strength to be able to put up a good fight and defeat the misguided power seeking Kai. Does this concept sound familiar? World leaders current and past be warned…
Switch Kai interestingly resembles a buffalo with dreads and his baritone voice denotes a person of African-American heritage. Possibly increasing the diversity representation in the DreamWorks cannon of films and simultaneously complicating my relationship with the synergy of good and bad, black and white, up and down dyad.
Support There is mass celebration and delight amongst the villagers, once Po returns. Evil has yet again been defeated by Po aided by the furious 5 and the Panda village. To save the One, The Many must unite.
Evolve The moment of blending for me, is the recognition of the callous murder of George Floyd and the laying of hands for Po in KFP3.
For me, evolution can be experienced amongst us (the human being). A global recognition of the myth of White Superiority has begun.
And in protest against the systemic factors insisting that White Supremacy is the natural order of how the world is always to be.
What has been experienced by the many, has been one of finding Unity. At least for a moment in history. Seeking justice for George Floyd after the pandemic is also about finding a way to restore – make what has been centuries of old wrongs – right for and with Black people at the helm. Globally.
The TaoHaiku Without opposite Warm, Cold, Up, Down, the journey, Possibly never
Over the last few months/years I have been asked a few times by graduates of counselling and or psychology courses and by other interested parties about the next steps to become either a coach or a counsellor.
Over the next few days/weeks I’ll share a number of ideas to advance ones helping career.
1. Investigate what a counsellor and a coach does. 2. If one or the other appeal to you find courses that you want to do next 3. Ask a number of counsellors/coaches about how they are finding their work and how their course was
7. Find a mentor who can support and offer insight through the learning process. BAATN provide a fantastic mentoring service for students. 8. Identify specific areas of interest i.e. Trauma, attachment, relationships, mood management, bereavement, anxiety, depression, Intergenerational concerns, the list is near endless.
9. Learn from others Brené Brown, Tony Robbins, Jim Kwik, Eugene Ellis, Rotimi Akinsete are good examples of how far one can go. 10. Read and listen to a few relative podcasts Tim Ferris has a good number, Science of Success is good as is Philosophy Bites, Kwik Brain, and a ton of others.
Resources Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility Interview featuring Dr Dwight Turner baatn.org.uk Eugene Ellis and Arike discuss Creating Partnerships with Training Organisations
New Dynamic Sometimes words simply aren’t enough to describe an experience. I believe Tank said it best in the Matrix when he said “It’s a very exciting time.” Or words to that effect about Neo joining the Nebudchanezzar and finally waking up.
Go Global Earlier this year I had a compelling conversation with Kwanda. Their interest was about putting together a therapy group for Black people. The group had the potential to attract members from Kwanda’s global village. Potentially people could attend group therapy from the Caribbean, countries in the continent of Africa, people from The UK, the America’s and from Europe.
Topics On Wednesday 12th of June 2020 the 1st group began. 3 men were able to dial in and begin initially talking about their general matters of concern. The Lockdown, CoViD19, work and finance being under threat or stopping, being with protestors for a range of reasons with the public outcry for justice for George Floyd, some choosing to find another way to lend their support.
Unknown Once it became clear that the vision of Kwanda had been realised a joyful exuberance about facilitating this group over took me. I grew confident something of significance had been achieved! That 3 Black men who had previously not known each other, could discuss via Zoom, topics that were of interest and concern for us all, and related to the other virtual attendees of the group was a remarkable outcome of the 1st encounter.
Growth The 60 minutes passed quickly and were filled with moments of genuine laughter, surprise, empathy and disappointment shared by all to all. The 3 were quick to note how comfortable they felt about discussing some of the things they had found within the group. A felt sense of knowing the other, without the need for pretence or hiding behind masks of pseudo masculinity was what I sought to experience and did.
After Some had engaged with therapy before and felt that whilst IAPT support had been useful, it hadn’t resolved their primary concern for engaging in therapy. The men stated that a free form discussion was useful in the beginning. The men shared that they were also interested in tackling personal topics in a more focused and direct way.
Zoom The 1 hour passed in what felt like a few minutes! A brief check out revealed that they all wanted to continue attending and would return the next week. A healthy beginning to a 1st Kwanda inspired social change event.
History Repeats For me, Kwanda’s Group Therapy clearly informed that psychotherapy can be accessed by all especially by Black women and men. I would argue that group therapy is what many from the African diaspora are involved in currently socially. The African Diaspora have been culturally and historically engaged in social economies for centuries. Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook Watch Parties, Skype, Zoom, Instagram live and many other group social platforms are used to pass messages in ways similar to the old way.
Similar infact to the drum! Africans from yester year invented Tele-Comunication.
Perhaps in times of great change we could all do with some psychotherapeutic support. The vision of Kwanda for me, is that it’s about Legacy.
The, what we are able to pass on to those that follow.
Before I was 17 when the vicious attacks by LAPD officers on Rodney King were made and became a pre viral assault for global audiences. This was before the days of the internet. News was gathered from television news reports.
When March 1991. This was my first year attending an art college in Wisbech Cambridgeshire. The Isle College was as far removed from the site of the brutal attack as I could safely imagine. Wisbech was then a small rural town.
Heard Police and their brutal treatment of law enforcement towards Black, Brown and poor people – a frequent backdrop to the music I was listening to at the time – Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Jazz infused Hip Hop.
A First The Rodney King event was something I had heard about but never witnessed! The video arrived in as raw a format as it could be filmed. A video 8 hand held camera – shaky – unfocused – capturing a seldom caught, or filmed spectacle.
Art Imitating A friend at the time a fellow student, asked me the day after if I was okay? He a white male. A skateboarder. Aware of the hare-pin trigger reactions of police both here and there. His query stirred me. Back then I did not have the language, reasoning or capacity to make sense of Rodney King’s attack. I don’t now. His experience was unfathomable. Later that year I queued up to watch Boyz n The Hood. The film gave me a sense of context and framing to what I had been a naïve witness to earlier that same year.
Sho’ This post is short primarily because other’s have words that are far more apt, powerful and relevant for this time. In our age of oppressive acts and fear based divisive ideologies. The Jury left the building a long time ago and aren’t coming back.
Over For women and men like George Floyd slain because a combination of conflicting factors have violently met. This systemic experience now calls for historic revolutionary unprecedented change.
Images Cover photo by Tyrell Charles on Unsplash Inlay photo provided by PK of Diversity Space who sourced the image from: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 2005 Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo 2016; Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero 2019; The Conscious Kid 2020. Originally shared by Michelle Gyimah & Ashanti Bentil-Dhue on their LinkedIn feed.
With thanks to Dr CW, ATPN, The Family Across the Miles Check in and Diversity Space for the videos and commentary.
With the experience of COVID19 being an extended period of strange, I am noticing things blending that perhaps would not have previously met. Such as home and work. Children and colleagues. Priorities and leisure activities. Tele-video conferencing and unlimited screen time. The challenge is with the frequent chopping and changing to meet a chaotic stream of demands. The ongoing effect of an ongoing strange situation is that of feeling, irksome, bored and fatigued. Can all responsibilities be equally met realistically?
Homogenised Currently I am working from home. I have not gone in to work since mid March. A warning from a friend who manages a number of hospitals was “if the virus gets in to a prison it will be like being on a cruise ship” she said. I took the cruise ships warning, to mean that if the virus got in to HMP X, it would run rampant and be unstoppable! Me with a compromised immune system and now as of mid May 2020, also being in the high risk category of being a Black Male I have relented and stayed home.
Unease Regretfully having not returned to my duties at Prison a feeling of malaise is growing. Now at 10 weeks in to self isolation I note that working from home has a number of common/uncommon challenges.
Full House Everyone is here! Dr CW and my two boys, are home. Where else would they be? I try to juggle a responsible role amongst making lunch, attending to squabbles between the 12 year old and 10 year old. I am also the unofficial teaching assistant (TA) for the boy’s learning. Dr CW is the qualified teacher, dedicating herself to managing the older one’s learning. I am grateful for her insights and perseverance through #Lockdown. I struggle with thoughts of ‘Am I doing this TA thing right?’ or ‘I don’t wanna ask her, but…’ and thoughts of doing not enough or too much.
Distant Guide I am also supporting my team that do go in to work at the prisons. I supervise remotely either by msn teams, Zoom or WhatsApp video call. Here too elements of guilt seep in to my awareness. Me at home, them there, putting themselves at risk and against the impossible task of welfare checks and keeping themselves safe in a prison! The thought of I should be there too, drags at me.
Lane Change I have given up the hour long commute – a 3 month old distant memory. The leaving the house at 7 a.m. is no more. The wondering about what to have for lunch at work is absent. The many other trivialities of getting ready for work seem a faint consideration now.
WFH The challenge for me currently is the blending of environments. Baffling and causing me to reminisce of the times had before the Lockdown. Work and home. Responsibilities of both now being mixed. Competing for dominance because they are both independently more important, urgent, and demanding of my 100% attention.
Pre CVD19 How were things before? They were in neat enough little boxes. Tidy. Distinct. Recognisable. Acknowledgeable for what each box contained. And I knew where those boxes were. And I knew how to open one and close another. There was an order, a schedule, a pattern.
Squared Now it’s like all the boxes are open. Things are leaking from some boxes into others, some are neglected or forgotten. The reasons for the negligence is that there are fires raging in some and rain pouring against others. Soaking some and threatening to utterly destroy the collection. It is Monsoons and Volcanoes. The Cardboard boxes don’t stand a Chance!
Reflection for Understanding I mentioned to 2 peer supervisees and to a friend that this time of ours in COVID19 Lockdown feels more stressful and anxiety provoking than anything I have lived through before. There have been other large seismic events that were as incredible as they were terrible. Tiananmen Square, the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster, September 11th, the Boko Haram kidnapping of school girls, the ongoing slaying of Black Women and Black Men in North America by police and security officers, Hurricane Katrina and the July 7 attacks in London all have pock marked my memory indelibly.
Never Ending But this enforced captivity and forgive the crude analogy, is like being sentenced along with family to an IPP indeterminate sentence. With little information as to our possible release dates. Parole options remain hidden. Being able to work towards a release date with good behaviour with our probation officers is off the table. The analogy here looks at those responsible for the management of the Pandemic (Governments). The offence would be catching the disease and spreading it by not socially distancing or non observance of WHO guidelines. With the suspected crime being committed we are then to be summarily mass incarcerated at home: indefinitely.
Tiny I mentioned in an earlier post that this virus, so small, is like a mushroom fungi spore. Altering the biochemistry of it’s infected hosts turning them into cadavers for birds and other feeding creatures to spread the fungi’s spores as far and as wide as possible. This virus has changed our view/experience of our world in ways that are similarly inconceivable.
Call Time Maybe I am not alone in thinking I’ve had enough. My fill of Netflix and Prime is replete. Being with the family and Zoom calls with friends, colleagues and clients a depended must. Contact with family overseas was good wholesome and necessary in the beginning of the outbreak. Now seems as tiring as the push me – pull you antics of the UK government. The experience being a blend of missing the simple act of human to human connection and dislocation/dissociation/disruption from what is and what is not real.
Summarise That Post COVID19’s tag line might read ‘Life Just got Tougher and Now Closer to the Impossible.’
If you contract the illness there is a fair chance you will survive but you might not be the same after you recover! It is probable that our world won’t be as well.
Walking whilst Black through this though, may be another type of story. This tag-line might read: Life was tough before. COVID19 brought out the worst. We are to gather and be limitless!
Demanding better futures and an honest retelling of our world history. Insisting on a closer, more informed and equally educated society, fearing less, eating healthily, thinking clearer and inclined to critical analysis and desiring to be ready to make meaningful change for our lives and for the lives of generations to follow. Perhaps with an idea of a sense of responsibility is a reason for fatigue?
Remembering There was something about those boxes (mentioned above) that gave a sense of knowing that also comforted and fatigued in a naturally expectant way. Life back then was manageably unpredictable. Now – exhaustively confusing. An old saying is – ‘Life is simple, it’s just not easy’.
Life is also tough but ultimately, it is an ongoing process of change adaptation and learning. I advise us to simply be open to what happens in the years to follow.
In answering the query at the top of this piece, all responsibilities are not equal and so cannot be prioritised equally or fairly or at times rationally.
Weather The reason I am attempting to write a counter conspiracy is for a counselling client (PK) who summed up the mælström that is the pandemic. Wherever one may have been in the last 2-3 months, in all of the countries around the globe, one word has possibly been used billions of times more than almost all others: CoViD19.
More The meaning of the word CoViD19 is an amalgam for the Corona Virus Disease 2019. There have been other Corona Viruses which this one has become the most famous currently. There was H1N1 and SARs that are also well known to have had deadly effects on us humans.
Past responses In my last piece of writing, I attempted to show what a millennia of learning has taught us. What do we do in the face an of overwhelming threat? We share knowledge to defeat said threats. With this virus – sharing unverified information can have a large downward spiralling affect.
Valuable Sharing viable information from reliable and trustworthy sources serves to contain and uplift those that we care about. Putting forward concerning or hopeless material can put even more stress and strain on already overwhelmed biological systems. The effect: more illness and disease and possibly death. Various communities have been hit disastrously by COVID19. Globally – China, Italy, Spain the UK and then the US, have been affected grossly with high infection rates and death tolls.
Guardians African Americans, African Caribbeans, Black British and Asian British people appear to be experiencing the illness at a considerably higher rate than the general population. Within these communities the disease has spread very quickly: see the Guardian article below. Some time could be spent reviewing incident rates, skewed figures and total numbers observing underlying health difficulties.
You at the Front African and Asian communities, here in the UK are often frontline workers i.e. Doctors, Nurses, Public Transport operatives, grocery shop employees, refuse and garbage disposal operatives, cleaners, janitors, security guards, delivery agents, postal workers, packers and sorters. Who come into frequent contact with the disease from a wide array of sources. Often frontline workers are without the appropriate equipment, training or guidance. Simply doing their jobs without due protection.
Responsibility These women and men as brave as they are, perhaps, are as wary of the set of circumstances we all face but may have little option but to continue to support themselves, their employers, employees, their families, their communities. Why? Because they care? Yes, and there maybe a simpler more human reason. If they aren’t able to fill the unforgiving task, who will? If they don’t, will frontline workers be able to stop working if they are the main earner in their household? If family in countries of their origin are in need of the stipend they are able to send each month can frontline workers easily walk away from their frontline roles?
Unknowing Unseen Perhaps just before we are about to click send on the latest conspiracy theory: showing how this latest crises caused by the Nameless Them will be our undoing. Maybe we should think of others who are fighting for a larger ideal. Rather than the 2 or 3 minutes of edutainment that the video has provided us with. Maybe we can think how is this information going to serve another? Spending time with the idea of – “if I cannot verify or make good use of this too hot to handle information, should I send it?”
Accountability I am not saying do not send info that you feel can be useful for others. What I am asking is that we make a considered effort to pause and think of others more. Because if what is sent causes another to feel progressively worse and hopeless – do they deserve that? For another to carry the burden of a future that looks as bleak and as unpromising as their not too distant past has been?
Dual Responses For communities suffering with co-morbid presentations of hypertension, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, poverty, racism, homophobia, sexism, mental illness, personality disorders, substance misuse and pasts affected by the criminal justice system – would adding another straw to an already overworked overburdened back be a compassionate wise or empathic response?
Light in Dark Spaces Aim always for kindness I have been told. Always! Aim for lessening the load of others and bearing some of the weight they carry.
Do not click send without forethought.
If the South African term Ubuntu (I am: Because You Are) is used as a guide, CoViD19 could be used as a tool to look to a greater good for all.
Pandemics do not need to separate but throw us all under the same sky fighting a microscopic monster together. Would that not be a better conspiracy to spread?
Managing the anxiety of COVID19 and the surrounding conspiracy theories that go along with the outbreak, the spread, and the intentionality of the disease has been both amazing and tiring. I realise that this blog has the potential to sail close to a conspiracy. I will watch my tone as I explain my thinking.
Bare with me.
Stupefying Amazing in that we want to make meaning from the amount of emails, WhatsApp shares, Twitter updates, Facebook Posts, News feeds and radio bulletins. Some information can be useful and thought provoking. Some information perhaps…
Exhaust The tiring part for me is the conspiracy theories and secret society imaginings. Sent my way by well-meaning friends and family. The aim of the sender to receiver (me) is to inform and provide some good or useful information. Sometimes…
Alarm The effect of sharing conspiracy, is that when in a state of concern or panic the person who receives this information isn’t calmed or soothed. The oppoite effect is achieved. The receiver has a number of choices with this fear engendering information. They can either share it, or keep it to themselves. The want to be helpful in a seemingly helpless situation: CoViD19, can override an inbuilt system of holding onto suspicious unhelpful or slanderous material.
Critical Awareness Using the ability to be suspicious/cautious of the intent of the information could be useful. Helping to begin a process of distancing ourselves from a heightened fear response. By engaging the human part of the brain (see Chimp Paradox) and keeping our minds thinking (pre-frontal cortex), potentially is the desired goal! Jumping to conclusions, or *scud assessments could be unhelpful in maintaining our equilibrium or anyone else’s.
Panicked Pattern First the unasked for idea or information arrives. On viewing of the sensory overwhelming video, our bodies react. The body is flooded by a cortisol response. We do not need to be aware/conscious of the response but our blood stream becomes a souped up system. Ready for Fight, Flight, Freeze or Friend. The response is automatic. Our heart rate may quicken, we might lose our appetite, we may find concentration on other topics evaporate. We simply want to act. Simply act we often do.
Confusion There is an interesting case that happened with laughter in the 60s. The event spanned months and started in a school in Tanzania. An incident caused a pupil in school to laugh uproariously which sparked a contagion that affected a community. I have walked and talked with clients who when realising the enormity of their situation have become both extremely upset and uproariously giddy with laughter. The event is called a psychogenic illness.
Wildfire There may have been times when something like a confused response happens in the face of a significant life changing event. A joke, a youtube video is as ludicrous or upsetting as it is funny and witnessing the scene causes the viewer, to be swept up with the happy confused state. In these moments laughing without a care, with tears streaming and mouths agape can be cathartic. Relieving a pressure build up. The passing of joy can consume us. Hilarity can bring us face to face with our humanity.
World Wide Worries The opposite affect can also be true when we have a concern. We seek truth and facts in all the right and appropriate spaces, and also in all the wrong places. News feeds. News cycles. Social media. The spinning and circulating of an ever growing concern. On this occasion it happens to be a global pandemic. Covid19 has consumed all hours and all days in an endless stream of updates, worries and many deaths. What then happens is when seeking truth, the material is passed forward. Asking friends if they have also seen or heard?
Corona Virus Disease 2019: CoViD19 The latest news about the deadly virus takes its discomforting place in our psyche’s. There stored the fear wreaks havoc with our natural defences: positive psychology, family ties and connections, friends, community, religious and philosophical gatherings, eating habits, work patterns, school and education, financial planning – all affected. The invitation is that we hold to this new reality like a raft in a storm, hoping it will bring us safely to shore. Can this vessel, with scant resources and ill meaning to humanity offer us sanctity?
Do or Do Not Unlike the psychogenic laughing bug. Once caught the hysteria and hyperbolic concepts are passed along, they do little to make us feel better. Sharing, seals in the yuck with cortisol and adrenaline running the show.
What could help would be, to mentally walk away from the information and critique it. Rather than be pulled into a belief that all of the thinking, neg vid sharing, hand washing, policy making will deliver us from the disease.
Stay with the Known Knowns: Our world will change. It always has. What act will you perform to support yourself and others in the face of the pandemic?