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The great epidemic of our time...

Why the biggest victim of ‘CoronaVirus’ is your mental health

Mental Health

The Book of Man's Mark Sandford argues that the biggest threat to society is a break down in rational thinking, rather than a cold with a vendetta. Caveat: He is not a Scientist, Politician, Health Worker, Geriatric or Football manager and his opinions are his own…

Ok..so…

Jurgen Klopp, one of the UK’s most successful football managers and apparent non-expert on global pandemics recently said ‘Why are you asking me about the Coronavirus? I wear a base cap and have a bad shave…Ask the experts’.

Yes, yes there is an epidemic that may kill us and its called hysteria, where news outlets and god knows what else around the globe value the opinion of a football manager with the premiership title in his sites, over health ministers who probably have the facts….somewhere, firmly up their luminous green arses. 

Tell me to ‘Sod off’ but i’m going to say in a condescending tone: ‘Perspective. Please.’ With two ‘periods’ and a finger painfully wagging at the poor souls who are polishing their finger nails with sulphuric acid.

Malaria has killed over 1Bn People, it’s the biggest killing disease ever.  Cholera, another oldie but ‘biggie’ has done some serious damage too and would beat a recent entry, ‘Ebola’, in a fight 10m times over. TB – again, hard as fucking nails in the pandemic pecking order and an ‘always on’ disease. SmallPox…don’t get me started on that, thankfully extinct horrible bastard. Because it’s out of the picture, thanks to medicine and important stuff like science and that sort of thing.

All these mega diseases have brought with them tragedy on an unprecedented scale. Some may say they are nature’s way of balancing our global eco-system, others say they are products of poverty and the result of a distinct neglect from governments to prioritise health within the developing world. No one could deny they could all be preventable or at least could be if governments prioritised the care of its subjects over oil and war. 

Whichever way you look at it, with the advancement of modern medicine and actual published information on the symptoms connected to these illnesses, we are probably more likely to be hit by a swan than catch anything resembling a super bug  and die (washes hands, applies hand sanitiser)  What lengths would you go to to ensure you don’t catch the ‘next big’  illness and what can ‘Germ Worry’ do to our precious minds?

Let’s turn to, the mutated microbe particle in the room: The Coronavirus. COVID-19. Yes it is proving to be a killer. No one is disputing that it is killing people across the globe. As this ignorant, ‘unqualified to really comment but I am going to anyway’ man writes, there have been over 3,013 deaths in China, 148 in Italy 108 in Iran –  a total of 3,356…yes 3,356  across the the world – if you really want your mind blown look at this amazing real time data – that equates to a ‘whopping’ 0.032% of all deaths this year thus far. 

So before you bulk buy a shit tonne more rubber gloves than the BBC Casualty props department (all sold out) and start customising your Amazon bought ‘look at me i’m a ninja mom’ masks with ‘FUCK YOU COVID19’, (you won’t get them from Etsy by the way because they just banned us monetising the fucking thing) lets stop to ponder a few things and what is going on. (washes hands applies the precious hand sanitiser)

It’s true that the elderly, already sick and those with genetic/non genetic respiratory conditions are at risk more than anyone else. Of course they are. That’s common sense and why people with these illnesses spend their lives protecting themselves from catching anything that might do them harm. Read Kev Godlington’s piece on the facts about what we shoul dbe concerned about.   My wife has a pretty uncommon immune deficiency virus and rightly so encourages us to wash our hands, sneeze into our elbows, avoid public spaces if we need to and burn our shoes upon entry. Her fingers are currently covered in plasters from biting her nails and begging the doctor for more valium.  Journalist Louise Soraya Black of The Independent has a family who suffers from an immune deficiency illness and here on said paper writes eloquently on why she refused to take her children to London over half term. I TOTALLY get this. I’m living it.  It makes sense why she wouldn’t want to put her family at risk. (washes hands, applies…. you get it).  If you are sick stay at home!!! Don’t put vulnerable people at risk.

But with ‘Germaphobia’ already a crippling issue for more and more people – particularly the 2% who are diagnosed with OCD in the UK, what is the reporting of Coronavirus and the corresponding governments reaction doing for our mental health as a global society. Worry will be the death of us. Plain and simple.

We naturally worry about lots of things. For people with anxiety this is ten fold.  Men in particular worry most about money, work and relationships. We also worry about whether our cats have fleas and whether guests will ever come back for dinner parties. Health should be prioritised more, but global pandemics that resemble an episode of the walking dead are probably pretty low down the list of things that might affect us, along with which wattage of lightbulb they should use in the downstairs toilet or whether the bin man judges their pyjamas. But extra worry like COVID-19 in our lives leads to anxiety, anxiety can lead to depression and an increase in depression can kill, potentially more than Coronavirus could in a day but lets keep an eye on that. Winston Churchill once said ‘there are lies, damn lies and statistics’… and currently that’s a statistic.

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remember to wash your hands xox

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What we are seeing is an increase in hysteria over a health issue that will seriously effect our way of living, but with many of us recovering after a few days in isolation away from the vulnerable.  Of the 98k cases, 54k have already recovered and probably watching day time tv.  Of course there are going to be exceptions and terrible casualties, but…the Flu? There are 1bn cases of it every year and that kills 646k people every year. Where’s the ‘red top headline, breaking news twitter trending, someone in Tesco said they are closing the world’ anxiety inducing alert on that little nugget. People don’t care.  ITV has reported a 10% drop in ad revenue due to the ‘illness epidemic’… or is that just because Love Island is fucked.

Our mental health stability relies on reducing anxiety, on fostering healthy relationships, on doing exercise, on being active, on self-care, on good diet, on positive thinking – what this hysteria is doing is denying people these fundamental rights. 

All I ask, as many also are, is for some PERSPECTIVE. If our neighbours are going to get infected we are probably going to get infected. We can wash our hands until the bones are on show and fumbling around the taps, wrap ourselves in cling film and hide inside our freezers like left over shepherds pie until it blows over, but that’s as ridiculous and as unrealistic as saying ‘terrorists might get me through the letter box, so i’m going to ban the post from coming in my house’.  We are more likely to die from the overwhelming anxiety that we might die from an illness that may or may not make us die..or something.

My advice (which probably counts for nothing by the way – speak to the experts) Keep calm, wash your hand, be vigilant, don’t go out if you’re feeling sick, be kind, be compassionate and if in doubt remember the words of Jurgen Klopp ‘I have a baseball cap and a bad shave’.

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