sense of denial

A sense of denial

Today I feel really sad. I went off to work on a day when many are already either self-quarantined or practicing social distancing, terms which have fast become part of our language the past week or so. I work in a school so whether or not I got to work is not my choice. I have seen and read a lot of criticism of the government and their handling to date, but as an employee of a local council, my terms of service mean that I must wait until told and then I do as I’m told.

While others may have greater flexibility, equally there are those who have less. My daughter is a healthcare worker who will have to continue her shifts until such time as she herself becomes ill. I suppose we all have to accept that our roles in society will determine what we have to do next, and the part that we play in dealing with the effects of the virus which is sweeping our world. I am not in denial as such, but I think that as people who care for others, we have to hide some of the fear that we feel and deny that fear a place.

And I suppose that I am scared – scared and sad. I am scared of the ripples that this will cause on far more than just a health level. And I am sad that so many will be affected, not just by the symptoms of the virus, but by the symptoms that befall our society. I think that possibly, there has been and will be some denial of this. Personally I would like to look close to home, to join those who gather in those who are theirs and isolate or distance themselves from others to try to keep safe.

But I am not at home. And neither are my family. Some of them will not be at home either, and so hoping or wishing for us all to baton down the hatches sooner, is only going to make things more difficult for them. For those who are working in essential services, time could make all the difference. Heavy demand on diminishing resources is something which is more inevitable than deniable and for me, looking beyond my own four walls and my own windows leads me to feel the weight of what I might see.

I have spent the day preparing for what will likely be inevitable – the closure of schools. Although there is no plan as yet, I would think it is more a question of when than if. And when it happens it won’t be for a short time. We are not looking at a couple weeks more Easter holiday, but a period extending for months. For many this will be manageable, but this is not the case for all. While some families will simply home educate, for others this will not be possible.

While part of my role is to teach, a larger part is to provide support for wellbeing. That is not easy when your usual resources are removed and your role becomes remote, virtual, logistically detached from those you work with. The internet has meant that things which would have been inconceivable in the past are now possible but our technology is not set up for using it the way that it might work best. And like I say, while most will get by, my fear is for those who don’t.

What about the young people who have no internet or ICT at home. What happens to them? We live in a rural location so some people don’t have the strength of signal at home to sustain the sort of connection that would be required for online learning. And what about those with family circumstances which are difficult? For some school is their only safe place, an escape from a chaotic and unpredictable homelife, where structure and routine is out of the window. Sitting down to lessons with a plate of muffins will not be the picture in every home.

Routine is also important to those with Autism spectrum condition and those with ADHD. The change in routine for some will be overwhelming and cause anxiety and swings in mood which can’t be managed with the usual strategies. And those with mental health issues will be more isolated, unable to access their usual supports. I feel scared and I feel sad at what the prospect of social distancing is going to do for these young people.

I have also been thinking about those who are vulnerable in other ways. We have pupils who are young carers, who look after their parent, rather than the other way around. Not only is school a lifeline and an escape for these children, it is often the one place where they can be themselves. They will be pushed even further into these adult roles before their time, and for some, will have to nurse their parent to an inevitable end. By the time school resumes, life may have changed forever.

Today as I prepared, there was no denying the way the ripples will reach out and touch the lives of the very people I am trying to protect. How do I equip them for that? How do I support them through it? What is the little that I can do that might be the thing that makes the difference to the few? I know that in many ways lives will be altered and their paths shifted slightly from the way they expected them to be, but how do I help those for whom the impact will be greater than that?

The problem for those in the caring professions is that we care. When you read the charts and the stats and the reports, there are numbers and cases and scenarios. But these are children with whom I have built relationships and that doesn’t stop because I am not in the location where I am expected to be. And so, having done what I can to create spaces online which will offer consistency and routine as this thing moves and shapes as it will, I try to explain in a way which will normalise what is happening.

And there comes the denying. I underplay the way that I feel and the sadness and the fear for how this might turn out for some. I encourage all to get involved in these strange new methods in a way which is jovial and dismissive. I realise that for many them just being there will be supporting the one who really needs it and I want to emphasise the gains without ever mentioning the losses. That is why after a quick make sure you do this if we find we are doing this, it is business as usual.

As I walk back home I feel it again: that weight, that reality. For some reason I think of the animation of ‘When the Wind Blows’ and the innocence and naivety of the older couple as they get ready for the unknown fallout of a nuclear attack. I think of the work of my day: the meetings organised that will never happen, the arrangements made for trips which will never take place, the presentations worked on which will never be seen, and the assessments prepared for which will not be sat. And it all feels like denial.


If you want to see how my week continued you might want to check out The worst week or is you could read more about Mental Health?

Posted in Mental Health and tagged , , , , , .


  1. This breaks my heart. It is a thought passed through our communities as well- what happens to those children that school is their safe haven?

    My son’s school has setup a drive-thru (walk-thru) line that classmates and their siblings (any age up to 18 yrs) can get a bagged breakfast and lunch. At least this way we know some children won’t go hungry.

    • That sounds like a good idea. I think people will try things. I am setting up face to face for some of my regular one to ones and ‘online lessons’ at the usual times but it will be odd. We are pretty rural so many will be geographically isolated anyway. ?

    • Thank you Melody. It helped to write it and means I go back in today a little stronger and a little more resigned ?

  2. Things are pretty bad and there is nothing to suggest it’ll get better any time soon. But crisis can bring people together, it can create a sense of community as no matter who you are it affects us all. But in many ways it is the unknown that is the scariest part.

  3. I look at my two year old daughter who can’t even go to the playground anymore but then I think about her 92 year old great-grandmother who adores the little one so much and I would really want my daughter to be able to remember her. Then I think we all do this so that the weakest of us have a better chance of seeing their loved ones again.

  4. I am far more scared of the fallout from the virus than the virus itself. The control that will be taken from us in the name of the virus will force a division within society. Not to mention the financial wreak – Small businesses will fold and jobs will be lost.
    It is very sad Missy

    • I agree with you May. I think that it has been hard as the focus is naturally on the health concern first and Foremost but there are much wider implications to be faced too. ?

  5. This is the real truth in our communities and futher evidence that whatever the strategy to tackle this virus, that there is a cost. What gives me hope is that there are people like you working in our public and community bases services who care and think about things. x

    • Thank you so very much for saying that. It has all felt so alien and it has been hard to really make sense of it so it is good to be able to talk more openly and realise that others understand. There has been a lot of talk about staying in and protecting our own but this is about communities and doing what will be helpful for others too ?

      • Yes, I absolutely agree. it’s hard not worry about the macro stuff going on, but I am trying to focus on my circle of influence, my family, friends and staff. Outside of that, there is not very much I can do.

        • That sounds like a great plan. I seem to change how I feel every day so have done from fear to anger to actually thinking what I can do to help on a practical level. ?

  6. I think there are many people who underestimate the effect staying at home, or locking down everything has on many groups. I get that it’s only natural to think of all our own situations, and our own people, but I think it’s equally important to think of those who can’t cope with this the way we do. Now is not a time to be selfish, but we should stand together as this is ‘us’ going through this, and not ‘them’ and ‘we’. I have an immense respect for people working in health services, and for people like you who instead immediately thinking about yourself, try to provide some kind of stability and continuance for those who need it. Thank you for sharing this post, Missy!

    Rebel xox

    • What a lovely thing to say Marie. Thank you. You have made me feel quite emotional and you are right about the strength. We all need to have that now and being selfish will mean that we can’t move forward and protect those who need it most ?

  7. This is a really powerful post, and shows such compassion and empathy. I don’t know what to say to ease the unease, but know that I am sending you a cyber hug ?

  8. You remain an amazing woman. Stay strong! While we are in turmoil, your ability to help others may be minimized. But this is a temporary situation. Afterwards you will have to be strong enough to deal with the fallout. Your caring and empathy once again comes through loud and clear in this post!

    • Oh Michael thank you so much for that. I wrote this to get it out of my system and deal with my emotions but I have been quite overwhelmed with the response. ❤️

  9. I don’t really know what to say in response to this post, but I was quiet all the way through. You wrote this really well and I hope everything is going to turn out okay. Stay strong like you are

    • I hope you are ok too. I am sorry if it was upsetting. I went though sadness and then the next day anger and then today I woke up feeling stronger again and like I needed to do what I can to help out in the community. I am sad now they have closed the schools and it feels surreal but I think they need people to work with the kids for those in key roles so I think I can do that. I have been pretty well exposed so guess I will get it soon and can then help others. I feel ok about that now ?

      • I am thank you. Don’t worry about it being upsetting! It’s good you write about this. Are you going to have to stay home now? A big problem is that you don’t know because there is no test available, so how can you know if you’re still at risk if you don’t know if you’ve had it yet or not! My friend works as a assistant teacher and he and the teachers at his school now are on a rota to work at the school, then in a hospital and then in the community, which is not at all his job and he’s angry and scared and I am scared for him too

        • I will be working from home as of Monday but I’m not sure yet what will happen and if some people will be taught/looked after somewhere. I think if I have something with the symptoms then I will assume that I have had it. ?

  10. I can see your strong & caring personality come through as I read your words. Sadly some of those kids will fall through the cracks. I hope not. Here, when the schools shut down…the kids were asked how many could access the internet and had devices to work on. Everyday the district calls to remind parents to get the kids online and working on their courses. There are meals provided like J. Lynn said “drive-up” and you’re right after all the dust has settled from this outbreak life as we know it will not be the same.
    My heart goes out to you and your family during this time and hopefully your daughter will remain symptom free and so will you and the family.
    Thanks for supporting SB4MH & for sharing this and I hope by sharing this that you feel some relief.

    • Thank you so much for such a kind comment. It sound well organised over there and my best wishes to you and yours in terms of keeping safe too ❤️

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