Homeward bound – or not
Published on: Sunday, November 08, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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THE day before yesterday Malaysia Airlines sent us an email to tell us that our flight was changed. We had checked the day before that and all was well so we booked a Covid test for Monday as we were leaving on Tuesday – or so we thought.

Now we were offered either 2nd (Monday) or 5th (Thursday). It isn’t possible to get a Covid test result in less than 24 hours (athough I understand these tests do exist), so as labs are closed at the weekend, 2nd was too soon. 

We spent some nervous hours changing our two flights each – one to KL and then the BA one from KL to Heathrow. Both organisations connected us to really helpful women, who were soothing and friendly and did the necessary with no problem at all. 

Lots of logistical changes too but it’s not the end of the world: the cat sitting transfer day, the car exchange in the UK with my son, the person who is booked to cut down the undergrowth in our Kent garden, all that sort of thing. Done. 

But the best laid plans…

The UK Government created three tiers for the country (and our area was in the least stringent) but now the whole country is in total lockdown from Thursday. People are saying that the lockdown may last past 2 December which doesn’t help the planning.  Blasted virus!

So many questions. So few certainties. And plenty of misinformation. It breeds like bunnies in this atmosphere. People are wobbly. A lot like a bit of drama, especially if it doesn’t affect them directly.For example, I was told only a few days ago by two people that I will have to quarantine in the UK if I am coming from Malaysia. Untrue. 

What is certain is that we need to accept is that none of us knows anything much. I am doing my best to accept this, and still hoping that we will get home for Christmas. And that quarantine on our return is not bad, and perhaps at home. Who knows? Unlikely, probably, perhaps, possibly, these are all words we must get very familiar with. 

We must change our flights today, in the knowledge that we might have to change them again…I think I may be in Sabah till the beginning of December as it strikes me as cheerier to spend lockdown in the warmth and sunshine of Borneo than the wet, dark and chill of a silent Britain. I like weather, I don’t mind the cold, but it’s not the best time to sit inside and throw another log on the woodburner.

No point in hoping very hard, just doing small things that may turn out well, or not. It is very good for the soul, but my soul is grumbling about it. A little less loudly, but it stamped its foot yesterday.

Ruby Wax’s Frazzled Café – it’s OK not to be OK, so let’s talk

I acknowledge and enjoy sharing a gentle space with other people. There remains much to be said about getting together in a positive loving atmosphere and I think we are all feeling the lack of that sort of thing. We must therefore create something that works for us, even if we live alone.  

I listened to a podcast by RubyWax the other day on James O’Brien’s show, Full Disclosure. 

Here’s the link: https://open.spotify.com/episode/65YraYF5w6dqjLrmWpULc1?si=OHyapjQLT7CpCshKWqj-Dw

Ruby is a is an American-British actress, comedian, writer, mental health campaigner, and lecturer. Her mission is to improve and acknowledge people’s mental health. She is open about her painful childhood and her difficulties with the relationship with her parents.

Her encounter with major depression 15 years ago led her to earn a master’s degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy at the University of Oxford, an experience she incorporated into a stage show.

Her latest book, And Now for the Good News is published by Penguin. She calls it  a positivity prescription, showing us the green shoots of optimism and change forcing their way up and into the sunlight.

and the blurb says:

She has spent the last three years speaking to the inspiring people who are spearheading the latest innovation and influencing a brighter future for humanity. From the communities being designed to eradicate loneliness and the companies putting their employees’ happiness first, to the AI technology teaching children with learning difficulties and taking literacy to levels higher than ever before.

As part of her campaign to acknowledge and support those having trouble with their mental health, she has started Frazzled Café, which aims to help those feeling overwhelmed, which is most of us right now. 

Before the virus, she says, 

12 to 15 people used to meet every two weeks in cafés across the UK, supported by a trained facilitator to give the session structure and make it safe. Some of these groups lasted as long as four years. About one in four people have a mental illness, but Frazzled Cafe aims to help those who simply feel overwhelmed.

Since Covid-19, Frazzled has moved to Zoom, and we’ve been flooded with people who want to share their thoughts. They have expressed feelings of uncertainty, loneliness; being overwhelmed by balancing work, relationships and family life; and guilt for appreciating aspects of their isolation – issues that had perhaps been exacerbated by the lockdown. No one had the manual on how to deal with this situation, so they would come and talk about it.

I now hold nightly meetings for 50-100 people. We also have trained hosts who hold smaller meetings for up to 15 attendees throughout the day – you can sign up for either at FrazzledCafe.org, and it’s free. Attendees have said things such as, “By coming here, it calms the chaos in my mind... you get that instant, raw connection that brings out the true essence of what it means to be human.” I’ve said throughout my life: “Talking is half the cure.” 

The website explains that

Frazzled Cafe meetings are not about therapy or offering solutions. They provide a safe and confidential space where people can simply speak openly without worrying about judgement amongst a group of peers who understand how it feels to be frazzled. What is said in the meetings stays in the meetings and there is never a need to answer ‘fine’ if asked ‘how are you?’

It is. Let’s talk. And why not give Ruby’s Café a try if you are feeling lonely. As she says, It’s OK to not be OK. 


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