We are living in a strange time, the “in between time”.
This is the real “twilight zone”. This is the time after the “past normal time” and before the “future normal time” … whatever this will be!
We remember how it was, but we cannot really figure out how it will become.
For now, we are like sailing through a strange thick fog, a very dark grey area with only a few guidelines that change many more times than we wish they would.
Today is a beautiful day, it looks like spring decided to come earlier to cheer us up and it made me think … think that we cannot give up, we must be resilient for some more time, never mind how long it will be.
We can be sure that nature is still there, giving us hope on continuity of life, even if man has not respected nature as he should.
The weather is improving, we will be able to gather outside instead of risking meeting indoors and people are getting vaccinated, but there is still danger and, also to be considered, the danger caused by the more transmissible and more lethal variants of the virus.
So, let us persevere to win this war, using good common sense together with science, fighting the virus the best possible way, even if that deprives us of many, many things we used to take for granted.
One very relevant subject, besides all that we must do to avoid the virus, is keeping our mental and physical health well controlled. Avoiding the virus but letting another disease kill you as a result of not using proper care is irrational. It is nonsense!
Do not disregard any health issues you might have that are not Covid related. Keep those treated, controlled properly and carefully supervised by your treating doctor.
The extraordinary performance of making vaccines available in less than a year was a big victory, but people must keep following the rules until vaccines are more widely available.
It is scientifically believed that the number of inpatients and deaths will start to decrease slowly as the number of vaccinated people increases but, realistically, to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed, we must comply with the ongoing social restrictions for a bit longer, maybe a few months more.
“Saudade” and hope
In Portuguese, there is a word – “saudade” – for which I believe there is no full equivalent in any other languages. It describes a complex emotional state of longing for what is lost and a feeling of uncertain hope for the future, even if knowing that what is lost may never be back again. It mixes memory, emotion, grief, hope, happiness and sadness, all together, happening all at once.
As we sail through the great challenges of the pandemic, from the catastrophic death toll to the persistent continuous uncertainty, there is a profound sense of loss and longing for what does not exist in the present, and the present moment is often interrupted by memories of life before the quarantine and the anxious anticipation of what will come next.
The Portuguese have a history of sailing to distant unknown seas, leaving behind everything and everyone they loved. They experienced the real feeling of “saudade”.
All the emotional stress and the multitude of emotional responses to life that we are going through during the pandemic is a sea of “saudade”, and people should be careful not to submerge.
Within “saudade”, there is some hope for the future, a very relevant factor in the present moment of humanity. Hope, even if it is an optimistic state of mind, can emerge from distressing and even tragic situations. Hope gives people a positive vision about what is possible, motivating us to look forward.
Our future and everybody’s future depends on what we all do now. When talking about health, financial and social global crises, staying positive is not easy but it is fundamental to shape the future even if nobody really knows what the future will be.
The change of model will be inevitable once we return to our reality and daily life.
Environmentally, we see how the world has started to heal now that we are not polluting as much, and we expect that people will continue once this is over to search for more sustainable practices.
As trees are growing their leaves, flowers are starting to bloom, birds are nesting and little ones are soon to come out of the eggs, new human babies are also being born. These will not have lived the old normal, for them there is no “past time”, there is only “future time”, but we have a duty to be strong in order to make it possible.
We know for sure this time will pass, so that we will enjoy the future, but it is important to keep in good social, mental and physical health.
We are all really tired, suffering from a new ailment we may call “pandemic fatigue”, but we must go on.
Best health wishes,
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Dr Maria Alice is a consultant in General and Family Medicine. General Manager/Medical Director – Luzdoc International Medical Service. Medical Director – Grupo Hospital Particular do Algarve/ Hospital S. Gonçalo de Lagos