Miriam’s Musings

Has our prolonged isolation caused brain-shrinkage?

Having endured months of lockdown, Roscommon’s hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering facilities have now reopened, albeit for overnight guests only, with restaurants and bars set to resume business for ‘outdoor’ services on Monday, so it’s safe to say we’re well and truly on the road to recovery!

However, while all of the above makes for wonderful news, setting the scene for a sizzling post-Covid summer, on a personal level, I’m finding it difficult to get rid of that feeling of dread lurking deep down in the pit of my stomach.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to doing some road-tripping with my family; although it will be around Ireland, I will not be holidaying abroad this year. I’m also looking forward to getting back on the bike again to explore Roscommon’s many wonderful tracks and trails with hubby. And, as I’m sick of cooking, I can’t wait to book a table at my favourite local restaurant. However, given the shenanigans that took place in my native Dublin last weekend, I believe that sadly, when it comes to the entire country getting back to normal it’s clear that a state of chaos and confusion around the Government’s ‘outdoor gatherings’ advice is still very much in evidence.

Don’t get me wrong folks, I’m not a killjoy, I can still party with the best of them. Ok, like many people I have to admit my social muscles have atrophied to some extent, but they haven’t died altogether. And yes, I might be a grandmother, but there’s absolutely no truth to the rumour that I spend my weekends burping the lids on my Tupperware pots. However, joking aside, I was appalled and disgusted when I saw the social media and TV footage showing what were large boozy gatherings occurring in both Dublin and Cork last weekend. I’ve got no doubt it went on in many other counties, although it wasn’t as widely recorded or reported.

What were people thinking? I hear you ask. I’ll tell you what they were thinking…they were thinking the sun’s out, I’m sick of this Covid c**p, the Government has encouraged us to ‘get outdoors,’  in fact the Tánaiste himself said “it’s much safer to be outdoors than indoors,” so I’m going to be a good citizen and paaartaaay! Now, while I will admit that Daddy Tony (Holohan) really gets on my wick, so much so I mute the telly when he’s on, but given the extent of last week’s  goings-on,  I find myself in total agreement with his public condemnation of the events that took place.

On the other hand, having been forced to be asocial for so long, indeed it’s as if the entire country has been secretly brainwashed during its sleep by suggestive tapes entitled ‘Hold Firm Vol 10’, I can of course understand the mindset of those who did gather.

On a personal level, I’ve been experiencing a state of cabin fever so acute I’ve even developed the mood swings and the aching legs of a long-haul flight attendant. Don’t believe me? Ask he-who-is-hiding-in-the-shed! To that end, I can fully empathise with those who were so desperate to be in the company of others, that, instead of actually hearing and absorbing the health and safety guidelines to continue to observe social distancing, they wrongly interpreted the easing of restrictions as a licence to go mad.

The Government and the HSE have been pushing the ‘have an outdoor summer’ message for weeks now, and that’s all very well. However, the fact remains, many people don’t have the facilities to host outdoor events in their own back gardens or to even have friends and family over, therefore, it’s inevitable they’ll meet up in public.

We are social creatures and I’m afraid the negative effects of an enforced and prolonged isolation may well have caused, dare I suggest, shrinkage in some of our brains – well in the brains of those who gathered en masse around the country potentially causing super-spreader situations. Therefore, as it appears there’s a cohort of those who can’t, for whatever reason, be trusted to observe social distancing, could I suggest the Government stop issuing diktats and instead start providing solutions? Closing off areas to avoid on-street binge-drinking and designing safe spaces where people can gather and socialise without placing the rest of us at risk would be a good starting point!

 

It’s Ok to feel anxious when emerging from lockdown

Staying on the ‘emerging from lockdown’ theme, and, given conversations I’ve had with many readers, it’s clear to me that the pandemic, and all it entails, has led to some people experiencing  heightened levels of anxiety; even in those who have been fully vaccinated.

Therefore, with society now set to fully reopen, it’s obvious that even though a lot of us are literally pawing at the ground to get back to normality, (see above shenanigans), the fact is, many of us are still feeling apprehensive. After all, while it’s great to see our freedoms being fully returned, it must be noted, the social pressures that come with them are bound to cause a lot of uncertainty. To that end, and bearing in mind I am not a mental health expert, indeed I am not an expert in anything really, but in the interest of trying to be helpful I’ve come up with a few ‘self-help’ tips you might like to consider…

Prepare yourself: Take a peek into the future and envisage how your life will change once restrictions are fully lifted. Sure it all be grand!

Be aware of your emotions: While it’s completely normal for you to feel happy and relieved you can now meet up with people you haven’t seen for a very long time, it’s also understandable to feel anxious and vulnerable. In addition, you may also be feeling extremely sad about missed milestones and family events, especially if this has meant missing funerals of those who’ve sadly passed away.

Manage these changes: The time has come when we can now gather with others – even though it’s only outdoors. However, rather than feeling excited when that text arrives, you feel dread – that’s Ok! Remember; it’s up to you how fast or how slow you move towards the activities in life that are important to you…and not the things/activities that are important to others. It’s Ok to move forward at your own pace. Have an amazing Bank Holiday weekend!

 

Why did ‘Friends: The Reunion’ gloss over Mathew Perry’s ‘issues?’

The much anticipated ‘Friends: The Reunion’ was aired last week, but did we think it lived up to all of the hype readers? I will say one thing, as someone who in another life produced TV for a living, my first thought was that this production was a skilfully packaged special with the only blight on the horizon being the insufferable James Corden. I mean, could he be any more unbearable?

But presenter Corden aside, the gathering of the six ‘friends’ made for, at best, a half-hour’s entertainment bolstered by a glass of wine and a family bag of meanies. However, it was dragged out with guest appearances by ‘celebrities’ such as Lady Ga Ga, Justin Beiber, David Beckham, and Cindy Crawford et al., not to mention the peppering of small-talk clips from gushing fans, all of who seemed to be more interested in the show than the ‘stars’ themselves.

I did enjoy the ‘reunion’ but as a naturally nosey person I was wondering why, in the midst of all the ‘ooohhh love you,’ ‘missed you’, and ‘let’s do lunch’ sentimentality, producers didn’t think it pertinent to address the much publicised addiction that clearly plagued Mathew Perry (Chandler).

As someone who views ‘Chandler’ as one of the funniest characters on TV, I found it difficult to come to terms with the contrast of the scared, mouse-like Mathew of today with the smart-as-a-tack, quick-witted ‘Chandler’ of old, and I admit readers, the disparity upset me greatly.