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A lockdown-themed rant from Dr Alan

While I can see how easy it would be to resort to self-medication with a fine (or less than fine) red or white, to ease the creeping anxiety we are all experiencing in these extraordinary times, I am pleased to see our intrepid leaders leaping to the fore with a program extolling the virtues of moderation, or even…abstinence! And it took a pandemic for the message to sink in…alcohol, in general, does one no favours. Useful for disinfecting benches (though not as effective as good ol’ soap and water against our friend COVID-19), but as a relaxant, it is readily surpassed by non-pharmaceuticals such as yoga, a good book, or an agreeable partner! 

The mental health toll of the latest lockdown is nowhere more apparent than in the trenches where my colleagues and I are confronted several times daily with the fallout….young mothers having to cope with new babies without the benefit of the usual family and professional supports, the mentally unwell having to get by with even less support than usual as the public facilities are over-run, senior colleagues protecting themselves (quite reasonably) behind a telehealth barricade, families with young children confined without the outlets of child care or education facilities (the children wearing their parents and carers thin), families suddenly finding themselves without stable employment and in financial straits, abusive relationships in stark relief with no exit option…and so it goes. Our intrepid leaders have again come to the fore…with more rebatable mental health sessions (an extra 10 per year) available on a mental health plan. Now, if I could just find a therapist who isn’t already fully subscribed, and offering consultations…not everyone is suited to telehealth.

I’d love to say I have a solution…I don’t. And while I may not entirely agree with the manner in which the current leaders are addressing the crisis (it would be a change if I did!)…are we going to do the same thing for the third wave?…and the fourth?…and what about the fifth?…because I don’t see this thing ending anytime soon. We might have several thousand cases, but Victoria has a population of 6.5 million people, and that leaves a vast number of potential hosts awaiting the next silent incursion. 

But, enough negativity! The charge of my editor was to inject some messages of hope in these troubled times, so here goes…

What am I doing to stave off COVIDitis…or should that be COVIDopathy…whatever!

Well, I have revisited my passions (Mrs Dr. Underwood rolls her eyes and shrugs resignedly)! I have discovered new authors (Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (thank you Andrew for suggesting them), Clive Barker and L.S Hilton (not for the faint hearted!)), and revisited old favourites (Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Matt Dillehunty, Aron Ra, etc.). I have dusted off the keyboard and the music books, and vowed that this time I will master sight reading and music theory, and bring this epiphany into my dreadful guitar playing (now it’s the neighbours who roll their eyes and shrug resignedly). My shed is tidy, my lawn is mown, my wardrobe sports some space, testament to the ejection of all those clothes I might fit back into one day…yeah, right, if suddenly chocolate and ice cream become unobtainable (now that would be a crisis!).

I have elected to seize the day – for want of a better phrase – for, though I may have dodged the coronavirus bullet this time, with my youngest son contracting the contagion (and electing to treat it with marathon online gaming and regular deliveries of takeaway food…well, it’s as good as anything Donald Trump and Pete Evans have suggested!), while my wife, my oldest son, and I escaped unscathed, we know (my wife and I), as healthcare workers, that our turn will come.

So make each moment count…that is my message. Embrace the opportunity to address all those things you thought you’d get to one day…that day has come!

I wish everyone well, though I know not all of us will be so lucky. 

And hence my favourite saying of late (Mrs. Dr Underwood rolls eyes and shrugs resignedly, again!)…

It is, what it is.

Dr Alan Underwood
9 August, 2020.

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