I imagine the biggest thing on everyone’s mind right now is Covid-19. While I can’t offer any medical advice, (I am so not qualified for that), I am in potentially two high- risk groups between my Asthma and Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).
Suffice to say I’m anxious. I am here to share the ways I’m coping with it.
Firstly, I know you are scared. This is so scary, and that’s perfectly okay. Some of us have medical conditions that could potentially put us at risk, others have family members and friends they worry about. At no point should your feelings be dismissed.
For me, I think part of the panic is all the information that’s coming at us. We have access to it all the time on our phones, TV, rumours. This makes it feel personal for us, it puts it in our homes, even if we don’t contract the virus.
The more other people are panicked, the more that rubs off on us. It makes us feel as though our lives are in imminent danger all the time. The key is to stay calm, plan and look after yourselves.
Here are five things I am doing to look after myself:
1. I’m not bulk buying soap
I know that everyone needs to wash their hands to protect everyone they meet. I would like them to be able to do that. As people who have HS or a loved one with HS, I want to mention Hibiscrub, a wash used in medical and veterinary practices. It is also used by some people, who have HS. It keeps our flare-ups clean and helps prevent them. In the panic buying, it is becoming very difficult to get hold of the stuff. For people like you and me, it might be essential. If you find yourself unable to find Hibiscrub, ask your medical professionals for advice, there may be other ways of looking after your flares. If there is, they will know.
2. I turn off notifications on my phone sometimes
If things are getting overwhelming, I just don’t engage with the information.
Media audiences are anybody who watches TV, goes to the theatre, concerts, the cinema or uses social media. You as an audience member actively engage with the content you see and hear. You decide to a certain extent what you read, how you will respond and sometimes you create or share the things you find. This means you can choose to do things another way. One that suits you and your mental health.
Covid-19 is a really important issue and you should keep up to date. However, it’s important to take breaks as well.
3. I am planning my days
Many, if not most are now at home. Whether you are usually at home or now working from home, it’s important to maintain a routine in your days. I’m a college student, currently working on my assignments from home. My university has a plan and I am familiar with it. I plan my day out in a notebook as I would if I were on campus.
Being at home has given me a little bit more space to do those things like yoga, video chat with friends and work on some creative projects I want to finish. My home and work life are for now connected. I have created a routine that works for me, allows me to be productive and rest.
4. I am checking my sources
Anyone who has been keeping up to date with the news on social media knows there’s a lot of sources from all sorts of places, whose information may not be accurate. If you have questions about work or college, look for advice from your work or college and follow the advice of your health service, as I am doing.
I’m sorry Twitter speculation doesn’t count.
5. I’m keeping myself safe
When I say I am keeping myself safe, I mean my mental health as well as physical health. I rely on my social support, friends and family. I also rely on the media literacy skills I have learned at college. Panic will do me no good.
I am looking after my mind because it is amazing and so is yours!
For those of us who experience HS flare-ups, we have a little extra work to do. It’s important that you continue to follow your usual care routine. Covid-19 or not, you know your body best. You know what it needs to be healthy.
You were handling your condition, long before the pandemic, you are not without skill and resilience.
What I think is that we have a lot of information we didn’t have in previous years and decades, some accurate, some less so. Science is advancing right now. Our job is to look after ourselves and help look after our families and community. Some amazing people are doing the rest.
Shannon is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa.