I heard a great quote yesterday – not sure who said it first but it was along these lines re the current pandemic:

“We’re NOT all in the same boat,

we’re all in the same storm,

but in different boats.

Some are relaxing in luxury yachts,

others are in rickety old rust buckets, letting in water, having to bail it out

and, of course, everything in between …”

The truth of this really struck me in terms of how differently we’re each experiencing this current situation.

You may be one of the people working on the ‘front line’ as we are calling it – a health or care worker or working in food production a supermarket, collecting our bins, delivering our post, or in one of the other essential services needed to keep us all going – in which case I’m sure you’re really busy – and also wary of your own safety as you undertake this important work.

Perhaps you’re volunteering in support of one of these vital areas.

Or maybe you’re working from home for the first time.

Or not working – either on furlough or maybe you have lost your job or your business.

None of this is easy.

People living on their own may enjoy the solitude – or be feeling really lonely – or a bit of each.

People living with others may appreciate the company and support – or may be getting on each other’s nerves. The guidance from the UK Government at the end of last week acknowledged the stresses and strains of households being confined indoors together and said that if we’ve had a row at home and need a break/some space it’s accepted that we can go to stay at a friend’s house for a while.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ way of doing this. As unique as our own circumstances is our individual tolerance for certain aspects and our ability to cope – which, in my experience, can change day-to-day, hour-to-hour or minute-to minute – and I think we’re learning a lot about ourselves and each other in the process.

Just because you’re in a ‘luxury yacht’ doesn’t mean it’s an easy life – you might be in an abusive relationship which is even worse now you’re stuck together 24/7.

Similarly, bailing the water out of the boat might be hard work and scary, but sometimes, if you’re doing it with someone you love, it doesn’t feel quite so bad.

What I think is important is that we’re patient with, and kind to, ourselves – none of us has been through anything quite like this before.

And that we also to try to be patient with, and kind to, others – on the basis that we’re in our own boat and they’re in theirs, and we can’t know or judge how this is for them by how it is for us or what see of them from the outside. We need to ask them.

I’m reminded here of Habit #5 from Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” 

It’s such a gift to really listen to someone else:

  • a gift in the sense of being a personal quality and a skill (which can be developed/enhanced with practice)
  • and also a gift to them – when was the last time anyone else gave you their undivided attention – and how special did that feel?

If you’re the one who needs to be heard, this may be the time to talk to someone outside the family about things – so please do seek help and support from friends and family outside the home (this is where Facetime, Skype WhatsApp etc are really helping a lot of people) – or seek out a professional like me (sessions can be provided via video, phone, live chat and email sessions).

It may be that you’re finding that any existing or previous mental health issues you have are exacerbated by how you’re having to live your life right now, or by worries about your own or others health, about money, or the future – or maybe someone close to you has died recently – from Covid-19 or some other cause – and some of the ways in which you would normally grieve or access support aren’t available to you just now.

There’s no shame in needing some help and support now and again.

So please do get help if you need it.

We all need someone to lean on.