Virtual by definition means ‘does not physically exist’. Exist means ‘being’ and as human beings we are social beings so therefore we are not meant to live in a virtual world. We’ve been living in very scary and uncertain times for over two years and yes we’ve had to adapt to survive.
We had no choice but to live in virtual times and do certain things remotely but shouldn’t all that nonsense be over now? Is it not time for us to be people friendly again, to work and socialise in person like we did pre-COVID?
This virus isn’t going anywhere and as an asthmatic I know the risks of being very poorly if I was to get it. I still think it’s time to get out there and socialise because the damage all this is having on my health is going to take a lot of healing.
At the start of lockdown I struggled with my mental health like most people. I felt so desperately lonely even though I didn’t live alone, I felt really anxious and seemed to stress over the slightest thing. I worried about friends and family members to the extreme. I was so fearful of life and I felt that everything was caving in on me.
This is not who I am. I felt quite baffled because I’m usually level-headed and what terrified me more was there was little I could do about it. I was slowly imploding and all the things I did to help cope were shut down which meant no swimming, steam room or the gym, no yoga, no cafes or restaurants and all these hobbies I did with friends.
So that meant no hugging, no belly laughs, no socialising and this is what was missing. Dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are our happy chemicals which are released by most of the above and I wasn’t doing any of the above, so no wonder I was feeling so down. As if things weren’t bad enough I was piling weight on, which hindered my arthritic joints and resulted in more pain.
Like I said earlier, in time we did learn to adapt and companies and communities were doing everything they could. It served its purpose, it got us through the pandemic but now a vaccine has been rolled out successfully and surely it’s time to get out there and mix.
I’ve noticed how my own habits have changed since all of this started. I do online banking, I buy food, clothes and household goods online, I’m Amazon’s no.1 customer. I order my prescriptions online, I choose my music playlist online, I’ve just joined the gym online and most of my entertainment is online.
I didn’t speak to a single human being whilst doing all of this. Sad, isn’t it? Not only have we lived through a pandemic, we now have a war going on in Ukraine. Fuel bills have risen by 51%, the price of food is going up – in fact everything is going we will end up with people choosing heating or eating.
There will be more people facing homelessness than ever before, in fact the future is looking very grim. No wonder mental health services are overwhelmed, people are drinking more to cope, the list is endless. This is why we need physical contact with each other ASAP.
We need to get connected. It was great to have a face-to-face meeting on the 8th not only because we all met each other which was fantastic and it really made me feel part of the team but it was the atmosphere and seeing so many smiling faces that really got to me. The room was filled with positive energy and all day there was this feel good factor, a natural high and “this”, I thought, “is what we’ve been missing”.
The agenda of the meeting covered serious stuff but it was made light-hearted by the fact we were all in the same room. It was really well organised covering a mix of interesting topics and fun. I think I hugged everyone in sight.
I felt so excited about going to London and staying over, I loved the build up to it, you know just simple stuff like getting my toiletries together, making a list of things to take. I did pack a change of clothes for the meal but we decided to go straight to the Italian restaurant and although I was dishevelled and in shock after taking the tube in rush hour, I had the best night ever with six people I’d met that day, how amazing is that!!!
There are so many services that need to open up, get that physical help back out there. We are here to help and guide some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We can’t do this remotely. It has to be face-to-face. We need to unite and put pressure on these services that are short-changing the clients. No more virtual stuff please, we’ve had enough, it doesn’t work. Just take a look around you.