1st Edition April 9th, 2020 Michael Clarke

Ignorance is bliss

I am a 24 year old care leaver under the care of social services until June of this year when I turn 25. 

I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2017 and diagnosed with cyclothymia in 2019 just before I moved into my permanent accommodation. I have been working for an organisation who runs breakfast clubs, half term activities & after school clubs in primary schools whilst also attending night classes at college to obtain an English GCSE. 

For the first few weeks of the outbreak I was feeling extremely anxious, my paranoia had been playing up – I was worrying about the uncertainty of work, food, money, family, friends & my community. It lead to me going through tremendous anxiety & depression; my mental health was deteriorating faster than I had ever realised. Considering corona has been the purple elephant in room it’s all everyone has been talking about and as I suspect will continue to be spoken about for a very long time. 

I feel we are at a point where we are relying on science, faith and hope. We are relying on relationships & communication. We are relying on the support of each other. We are relying on the tiniest forms of communication to help get us through this crisis.

For the first week of the outbreak I was working – the fear was everywhere and even parents from our school had appeared on the evening news venting their confusion to the public. There were fewer students then usual – measures were being put in place to prevent the spread of germs and conspiracies were flying high. 

By the start of the following week I had came down with a sore throat, blocked nose, a slight cough & having migraines. I don’t normally visit my doctor for minor colds or flu and I didn’t this time. I just managed with home remedies and lots of bed rest. 

During my time in isolation I have come to a massive understanding that some of your biggest supporters will be the people you don’t even know. 

So, my college safeguarding officer has called me once a week since the outbreak offering a listening ear and an empathetic voice. I’ve found it extremely comforting that even though I’m not there I’m still being checked in on. 

My manager at work has called me once asking how I have been managing throughout the current climate; I was made aware there is a lot of information that no one has yet and we’re all in a state of uncertainty and hearing this relieved a lot of the pressure, making me realise I wasn’t alone. 

I have continued to speak with my therapist via Skype once a week which has also helped me to keep partially on top with how I’m feeling and what it is I need to be working on.

I have been contacted by people during this period; however strange enough they aren’t the people who I would have expected to speak to, they have been random people from social media, people I haven’t interacted with in years, people who I would have expected to have forgotten about me a long time ago. 

The people I’ve spoken to outside my home haven’t been my friends or my family, it’s been the people I meet going to the shops, it’s been my neighbours & the many random people who like me are lost in the chaos.  

I’ve had new people speak to me via social media, some only initiating conversations for the time being, others making a serious positive impact showing effort and consistency, wanting to be involved in my life’s journey and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted.

For me the best support I have received whilst in isolation is the support of communication, having people who genuinely wonder how you’re doing and if you’re okay. I don’t care about all the luxuries and all the extras we get in life, just simply knowing that someone is thinking about me and if push came to shove there would be someone there. 

As strong and independent as I am, a community is only as strong as it’s weakest link and in order for people to survive people need to be focusing on the people most vulnerable right now; whether it means phoning every single person, writing letters, posting food vouchers to people’s homes, getting kitted out in a hazmat suit to go and sit down to have a conversation….. do something to outreach, don’t just like a picture, make comments and initiate conversation. 

There are people struggling without food, without energy, without people, without connections. There are people out there suffering from mental health issues, suffering to get out of bed but how would you know when there is no communication? You’ll never know what a person is going through unless you actually talk. They say we all know something nobody else knows but also everyone  knows something we don’t know, in order to understand what we do and do not know – we need to speak and share our thoughts ideas and feelings.

There are people who are getting sick of their own voices in their heads and all they need is to hear someone else remind them what it means to be human.

So, I can whole heartedly say that the biggest thing that has kept me sane during this period are the ones who have consistently kept me up to date in their daily activities, the people who have given me things to do, the ones who have reminded me of how great the world and I can be. The ones who have taught me things I never knew and showed me a new light. 

I have spent my time in isolation planning how freely I will be living my life when it’s over, I will not be allowing society to construct the way I live. I will embrace the world for what it is and not what people say it is. I will get a ferry to Rome, I will cycle across Europe and experience everything I was made to believe I would never experience. 

I will challenge every obstacle that I face with full speed and power, using all my will and might to overcome anything that tries to prevent me from seeing the world, embracing humanity’s way of existence. Speaking to people from all across the world and learning of how they’ve adapted throughout life’s struggles: unshackling my chains and climbing the mountains for sunset and a new dawn.

Michael Clarke