My WHOLE Self: Chronicles of an Anxious Small Business Owner during Covid-19 Coronavirus, by Jane McNeice

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MY WHOLE I: Chronicles of a concerned small business owner during Jane McNeice's Covid-19 corona virus

So my husband says, “Please stop talking about corona virus, you’re going to kill me.” And I understand that if I am very concerned about something, I simply cannot contain it. It becomes contagious and as painful for others as it is for me. So I try to spare my husband and write down how I feel instead …

Two weeks ago, a week from February 24th, I had started to worry about the Covid-19 corona virus. I had already discussed my preferred coping mechanism for overplanning, which was exacerbated by the increased fear. It may have been more pronounced for me this week because my husband was not at home in France and because we were planning an Easter vacation in Sicily, a holiday when I started asking what I should do in the light of the upcoming coverage of the outbreak in Italy. The following week, I was unable to hold back and decided to change the holiday to 2021 at a painful £ 1400 administrative cost. It is always very difficult for me to find out whether my reaction relates to the catastrophe that accompanies my fear or whether I am completely logical and reasonable in my thinking and planning. The line is inseparable at the moment.

Week from March 9th, I should exhibit my company at the Health & Wellbeing at Work conference in Birmingham, NEC. I was expecting the host to cancel altogether, and it was ironic that most of the other events had actually been canceled on both days of the event and thatCovid Numbers, MHFA, Mental Health, Suicide, Asist, SafeTALK, Training The conference on health and well-being at work was still held, albeit with a much smaller number of participants than in previous years. Events like the Geneva Motor Show had been canceled, although some other events, e.g. Cheltenham Festival. The fact that some major events were not canceled signaled to me that others did not fully share my concerns, as did talking to people in jobs similar to mine and talking to parents at my child’s school. I felt that my concerns were only mine and therefore had to be irrational. I blamed my fear. I also recently created a goal orientation profile, a psychometric assessment followed by an interview that highlighted me as a very determined but also very risk averse person. This was also an indication in my head that I was maybe too risk-averse in my thinking.

We are now in the week of March 16 and I no longer think my thoughts are overreacting, but time will surely show it in one way or another. I now feel that my intuition, which I too often foolishly ask as a second question, tells me that we are facing the impending doom. Two weeks ago I made a sum in the notes on my phone. It was based on what the BBC said that day regarding the infection range per infected person. I had already worked out the virus potential (admittedly very pseudo). I had shared this with others too. I was hoping and still am that I was so wrong.

Friday the 13th (I should have known!) I read this article

which for me concludes that my concerns are justified. I’ve also read the Twitter feeds it contains that illustrate the major disaster that will hit our NHS. Now I’m compromised. My youngest child’s birthday party will take place tomorrow, Saturday, March 14, in a theme park. Could he have chosen a better petri dish environment for the party ?! I decide to continue the party plans to avoid disappointment and people who think I overreact, but I have intrusive thoughts about contamination all day. We have lost money on our vacation in the past two weeks and I had postponed nearly £ 9,000 in training bookings. I really couldn’t take another financial loss, especially because I was very aware that there would be more in the coming weeks due to the nature of my work in training.

One of the most difficult things I am currently struggling with is the obvious complacency of so many – plans for the summer, plans to visit us next weekend – and my frustrations about it. My personal view is that complacency disappears very quickly if one of three things happens to you: 1) You get the virus yourself and feel uncomfortable or take care of someone who has it, either professionally or personally. 2) You lose a loved one to the virus or 3) You are financially affected by the economic impact of the virus. Unfortunately, the latter (or luckily only the latter) applies to my own case (at the moment) and I think that added to my hypersensitivity. First and foremost, nobody wants to lose their own life or someone who is interested in this virus, but the loss of losing a business in which you have put your heart and soul is also an incredible loss. I had to do the financial planning of how long I could bankrupt my business if my income dropped to zero due to canceled or missing new training bookings, including the numbers for holding or firing two administrators. Again I’m still wondering if my pessimism is running at full speed here. I want to be so desperately wrong, but my current prediction for lay people is that we will close all British schools in the week of March 16. I also think the cases will quadruple or multiply over the next 7 days, and I think we will be completely blocked in the following week, which starts on March 23rd. Until the beginning of April, when our family should have had a good time in Sicily, our NHS and our lives will be catastrophically affected.

How I feel right now, very scared, sick and powerless inside, my motivation wanes and I resist a constant urge to go to bed and cry. Most of the time my anxiety is treated, but I enter (if not already) a phase in which the depression finds its way in and creeps in again. My functionality is decreasing significantly at this point, so I’m just trying to write that out. Reading will also be my consolation, I am sure of that. I hope it all goes away as soon as it arrives, and I hope even more that the losses are minimal for everyone involved…

If you

Week from March 16…

March 16: I go this week and think a “plan”, yes, a plan will solve this. Today’s news confirms a leaked report from Public Health England, indicating that coping with the outbreak could lead us until the next spring of 2021. This confirms the fears I had about my sums two weeks ago, contrary to what was officially said last week in terms of the high point of the 3 weeks over Easter and the feeling that it had been and gone until summer will be. Today I have the feeling that everyone switches to mobilization mode and no longer waits for them to tell them what to do, but only with their own “belly”. My company has seen several more cancellations today, and I believe that posting in the coming weeks, months, or possibly a year will be one of my coping mechanisms. It is increasingly frustrating that in times like these we need to equip even more people with the skills to support people with mental health problems. Still, I feel that many are complacent, but I can only deal with my own thoughts and behaviors, not those of others. Also, managing my own is a full time job right now! On a positive note, the news of the outbreak has caused selfish behavior in some cases, but I have also seen friendly and caring acts towards others, and I am reminded that adversity creates strength, hope, and very often better things. Maybe this virus reconnects an unequal society? It is an absolute leveler – it could not be less important for your class, job title, social status or otherwise, although it is unfortunately age-related in its effects and effects on people with pre-existing diseases. It is a global experience that creates the history books and also speaks and reflects them, well beyond the time it takes to resolve them. I didn’t buy panic because I wanted to make sure there was enough to go around, but only after a month ago with my daughter led the eco-discussion about a shift to an “alternative” toilet paper roll and decided that this could cook washed flannels (just like in the days of terry diapers) I ordered 30 flannels. They arrived today!

So tonight we hear new instructions from the government and a reality check that this will not be a 2 week thing and then back to “normal” but to months, possibly longer. I felt that in my bones two weeks ago when everyone was looking at me strangely, as if I were overreacting. I was scared then, now I am. What I am afraid of – I fear that I will lose my father, who is at risk in both old age and illness. I’m afraid for my father-in-law, who is a funeral director and learned from a doctor a few days ago that as a worker with deceased you should wear protective clothing – Covid-19 survives 3 days on a deceased body. I fear that the symptoms of this virus cause much more suffering than the comments “It’s like a cold” that we’ve heard in the past week. I am afraid for my children, my husband, my family and me. Tonight I’m going to write letters to my loved ones (just in case the worst happens). Is this the extent to which my fear leads me or is it normal? What is normal

March 17: It is not surprising that the brand is being increased again today. It is recommended to take some paracetamol. This turned out to be easier said than done, but after waiting half an hour in the queue for the pharmacy, I was able to get it for my boys, myself and my husband. Laura, my daughter is also scared and my husband is now realizing the economic impact. I am afraid. Further shifts affect my business, and many other businesses are also affected. Box, training folderI am so sorry for everyone. I went to the office tonight and had to set up a storage compartment that I never thought I would do. I can’t imagine what the other side of it will look like and when it will actually be. I have a changing feeling of acceptance that didn’t exist two weeks ago. I am ready for a major change in life, but I am not ready for someone in my family to die. I no longer believe that this is not possible for the younger family members. I recognize that it affects older people more, but I also think that information about the effects on younger people remains hidden. It is published regularly through Twitter updates from Italy. I try to plan the loss of my “meaningful job” – my job as a mental health trainer. I know that the impact will be phenomenal for me. I try to take the risk by planning an alternative. I have ordered some gardening supplies as I will most likely not be able to access them in the coming weeks if we complete the closure which I expect. When these arrive soon, I have something that can help me when I am fit, healthy and locked up. I say if not, if 80% of us get this virus, we will be told. I also prepare for the introverted hangover caused by the lack of personal time I’m used to and which becomes scarce when we (my husband and two boys) are all at home and isolated around the clock. I may need to hide in the attic or in the car with my Kindle from time to time. I love my family, but my introversion means that I need as much time alone as the air I breathe. I’m afraid I won’t see my daughter and grandchildren for weeks, and I’m afraid of Sebastian after his near-death experience with Kawasaki disease just 16 months ago. Could his heart still be too vulnerable? I promised myself today that I will try to be particularly kind to others in this challenging time and that positive experiences can still occur. I swear to endure this pain well, not bad. This can make people very beautiful or very ugly. I recognize the positive:

  • Altruism and opportunity for good
  • An opportunity to spend more time with my immediate family than I normally don’t have
  • A time to think
  • A time to write
  • A time to record hobbies that have fallen too far behind because life is so busy or I leave it that way
  • We’re going to stop saying, “Where’s this year gone?” Time never got faster, we were just too busy. Time will feel slower again.
  • A time to try another life for a while that will continue to shape the life that arises after this nightmare
  • A time to think about belief and spiritual belief
  • And a time to be simple
  • Plus the parts that I don’t yet know which will result …

Today I’m going to write to Lindie, my neighbor, who lives alone, to let her know that she can call us if she needs anything in the coming weeks. I hope she won’t be offended, but I would rather insult her and let her know that we are there rather than feeling that she can’t ask for help. My mood changes between despair, angry fear, depression and the need to cry. There is a feeling of a feeling that I only experience at certain times – not just at negative times – times like before and after vacation or when traveling, Christmas and when the early summer sun comes out. It is as if my energies do not recognize the difference between impending positive or impending negative experience, but only imminent something that is outside my norm. I fear the extent of poor mental health that will result in the coming weeks or months, particularly an increase in suicide (most likely related to loss of some kind) and an increase in symptoms after trauma. I also expect a future increase in divorce rates when some couples find that they don’t really like each other after spending time in almost complete isolation. I hope that the future need for support will be met and that it will not only be the economy after the looming nightmare that has priority. I will write this down further.

March 18: The feeling of impending doom persists in every environment I’m in today – in the office, in the car, at home – it’s like waiting for something but not really knowing what I’m waiting for . My sleep has been affected, I am like a coil spring when I climb into bed. A national increase in poor mental health will be the following pandemic, I am sure. We will need an increasing number of mental health first responders to prevent symptoms from worsening and to encourage people to seek professional help. I hope that help will be available, hope remains forever! Tomorrow is probably my youngest boy’s last day in kindergarten. Since I don’t think he can return until September, it means he won’t be returning at all since he is going to elementary school instead. The last day of my oldest boy is tomorrow too. I can’t see the schools reopening soon. The government promises small business grants of £ 10,000, which can be used to ease interest payments for small businesses. If they apply, this includes my business and it will help cushion the blow.

March 20: One of my employees is aware of the effects of coronavirus on his role. It makes me sad to have to discuss it and make emergency plans with them. I inform kindergarten that my youngest boy will not be here today and break down when I point out that he may never be back. If September coronavirus hits the finish line, my youngest boy will go to elementary school instead. Yesterday I had a significant shift from acceptance back to panic when I was thinking about my training products and thinking about the potential for other companies that my business would dominate due to the related supply chain. I check the financial stability of related companies as often as I can and try to calculate the probability. I am working on solutions to risk this. I had trouble waking up this morning, a sure sign that my mood was going down. The Prime Minister announced a ton of financial support tonight, and while it initially calmed me down, I realized that some elements would be out of the question for me and that my husband and I could still be hit hard. We both have our own business and employ people. The home school of our 6 year old will be time consuming. I’m really not sure how people who have to work from home actually do it, and realistically at home (for those with children). You will feel incredibly torn. I mourn what I should have done today, give a training course in Basingstoke and prepare for our vacation. There is a real sense of loss for what should have been. I tell myself to just accept it, but it’s difficult. I wrote an article yesterday for the e-bulletin ‘Covid-19: Resilience to Adversity’ and I feel a little hypocritical I can’t achieve what I encourage others to do, maybe I should have said that it would not be easy, and also for myself. I have to remember that if health permits, we will do it. I hope my boys and girls – children, grandchildren – are doing well, but then I start thinking about whether we can get the virus better and have some immunity to future outbreaks, as it will likely catch up with you at some point. I feel pretty empty right now, but compared to many, I still have so much. Some people have lost so much. Accept what I cannot control, I tell myself, but it does not reach the depths of my psyche.

March 22: I try to put my frustration aside over those who don’t seem to understand and understand that we’re only at the beginning of something catastrophic. I feel exhausted every time I communicate this – I exhaust myself, and I have no doubt that I exhaust the person who hears this – that is the contagion of my fear. I went for a walk with my eldest son yesterday to feel normal and to empty my head, having spent much of the morning tearing up. My youngest boy’s answer was to find his brother and tell him that mom needs a handkerchief. My kids shouldn’t have to face that. They are both very compassionate when they see that Mom is upset, but it can be understood beyond her years. I managed to buy groceries in the early afternoon, but due to “selfish buyers” there was no milk, so I had to go to a farm shop for these and cheese. Today I worked in the garden for some time in the sunshine. I hope for the benefits of vitamin D and for doing something useful. Little things that make you smile really help – I’ve found a Holly sapling next to a plant in the garden – I’ve wanted Holly in the garden for a while, just a tiny twig, but still a sign of the future. I carefully moved it to a nice new home with room for growth. It is positive to see new growth and the sun and to know that the sun is still rising and the moon is still coming out at night. Today I asked myself whether we should add toilet paper and pasta and daily bread to the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been thinking about the idea that everyone will be disguised as a corona virus for Halloween this year (assuming it’s over by then!) And that there could be a day of remembrance when we get an extra holiday, the last case of Corona to celebrate and the work of those who fight against it. It feels so far away, and unfortunately the suffering and loss is between zero and its comfort. I am not looking forward to the coming week in numbers and hope that it will not reach our loved ones. I wish nobody would. A sad milestone that I know is coming is when the first person I know is tested positive. Are you testing now? How do you know the numbers if they are not? Not testing is surely a crazy thing, you don’t have to be a scientist to know.

March 24: Emotional roller coaster ride today. I am very fragile, I desperately miss my normal. It would have been a day at home when my youngest boy would have picked his brother up from school, and tomorrow I should have trained at a school in Sheffield. I feel incredibly lonely at the moment. Steven is a key worker, so that was not the case 24/7 – he works with customers who want to move their IT arrangements to home work. There is currently very little on-site and real support for suffering small businesses. I will commit myself to finding some positive aspects about writing, as I am now writing more deeply into depression. Positive: Laura and Gemma are planning a group talk for tomorrow, the sun is shining, a parcel of garden supplies has arrived and a small one that only a few will refer to – my fingernails have since stopped hurting. I removed my nail gel at the weekend! Oh my god, how have the priorities in life changed in a short time! I’m trying to hold back a lot of tears today, just very fragile.

March 26: It turns out that March 24 was what I call the “wall”. When I’m worried about something, I fight to anger and tears. The pouring out comes out, then I go on and reach a point of acceptance. That’s how I feel today. I have written some positive things and feel like I have plans for home time in the coming weeks. The sun shines in a way that is so striking. I am determined to work on a more positive awareness

April 30th: Positive awareness arrived after March 27th and most likely will be reflected in my lesser need to write down my pain. I completely redesigned my thinking after hitting the wall. It changes from day to day in an even more positive state, but is affected by the media when I allow myself time for news and see other people’s pain. We are in the same storm, but it is so clear that we are not in the same boat! For me and my life, I believe that I have been given the gift of time – something that I have longed for and that I could never have believed how it would be bestowed. Unfortunately, time has been taken up for many others. I have found meaning in many things and still need a break and some time for myself, but it worked well. I’m not sure if I see the end of it or what the new world will look like, but I think we’ll adapt to it. I hope that the lessons of this will not be lost so quickly, and I hope that gratitude for the “helpers” will not be forgotten so quickly, especially for the health and social workers. The safest thing at the moment is that the sun continues to shine. I myself will try to maintain a higher level of awareness, because better mental health can be found here.

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