Life in a bubble may be harder this time

How will we cope this time?

Many New Zealanders embraced the challenges and united to defeat the first wave of Covid-19 but they may have to face a second wave when their emotional reserves are depleted.

"We took a hit," Otago psychiatrist Chris Gale said.

"I hope like hell this is not a second hit."

New Zealand had just passed 100 days without community transmission of the virus when the shock announcement came on Tuesday night that Auckland would return to Alert Level 3 restrictions and the rest of the country would be back in Level 2.

Physical distancing -one of the more drastic responses to the pandemic - was back.

The ratcheted-up restrictions will last at least until tomorrow while officials work out to what extent the virus has spread.

"Inevitably, there is a huge amount of fear and uncertainty," Dr Gale said. "And a certain amount of mistrust."

Dr Gale is a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Otago Medical School and a consultant psychiatrist for the Southern District Health Board.

If an outbreak is not quickly contained, Dr Gale is not sure the New Zealand public will show as much goodwill to officials as it did from late March, when sacrifices were endured with some cheer, spirit and hope.

"There was considerable effort last time to be nice to each other.

"We have a sense that if we did what the Government said - an inherent bargain - if we played the game according to the rules, we would do OK.

"I’m not sure how this is going to work out this time around."

People were well aware of job insecurity, anxiety and emotional distress already rendered by the crisis.

However, Dr Gale advised people to consider positive practices that were adopted in the autumn lockdown.

Those included checking on people’s welfare, taking time to communicate and going for walks.

"I can choose not to watch things that upset me... say the gentle word, not the bitter word."

If he had his way, the bubble concept would be extended to 20 people.

The bubble experience was particularly difficult for people who lived alone and for those who were in fraught relationships, he said.

Dr Gale said New Zealand’s effectiveness in combating the virus was not necessarily about policy.

The country’s advantages included a lack of high-density accommodation, lack of public transport and lack of mingling in central business districts.

Dr Gale hoped community transmission of the virus would turn out to be a blip, rather than an entrenched problem.

People needed to bear in mind what they could control, he said.

That included doing their bit to look after each other.

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

Where to get help 

• Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

• General mental health inquiries: 0800 44 33 66

• The Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757

• Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543 354

• Samaritans: 0800 726 666

• Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

Comments

What a bunch of whiners! Locked down in your home for a couple of weeks. Compare that to military folks deployed months on end in combat zones.

Or compare it to your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents where they had to endure YEARS of war, diseases/viruses, economy problems and so on.

WAY too many people these days are insanely self entitled and think they're heard done by, when in reality a lot of places have never had it better when you compare it to history. Get over yourselves and try thinking of others for once, it's the quickest way to sort all this out.

 

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