I’ve just had a phone conversation with Abi, because, she said, the eating disorders team were only meeting face to face with people who were seriously ill, and then they had to wear full protective gear! The eating disorders team! I was amused by the idea of Abi in full Hazmat suit asking, *Wheeze* “And how are you feeling in yourself?” *Wheeze*, like Darth Vader trying to sound compassionate: “Luke,” *Wheeze*, “I am your therapist” *wheeze*. “NOOOOO…”
I was flattered that she didn’t see me as seriously ill. This is a significant sign of improvement. Normally, anorexics would think, “Oh my God! I’m not trying hard enough! They think I’m putting it on! Everyone else is better at being ill than I am!”
However, the Corona Virus outbreak makes me feel bloody silly, wittering on about my trivial shit. It’s humiliating to be so shallow, but I persevere, defiantly. Fuck you, life. Fuck you, other people!
We’re supposed to self-isolate to protect each other. There are full-page ads from the government and NHS in the papers saying,
STAY AT HOME TO HELP SAVE LIVES.
Anyone can get it.
Anyone can spread it.
STAY HOME – PROTECT THE NHS – SAVE LIVES”.
We are supposed to sit on our arses, watching box sets and surfing the net all day, for the good of the nation! Now we can finally feel virtuous about it. Social Media has apparently lit up with everyone “calling out” everyone else as selfish and anti-social, evil even, for endangering lives simply by going for a walk, or standing too close to someone else. Revenge of the couch potato! The mob are hunting for victims to lynch to make themselves feel self-righteous, intellectually superior and powerful. And, no doubt, to pass the time while they’re stuck in their homes. They’ve coined the awful, sanctimonious term “covidiot” to define their prey.
To me, these self-appointed martinets seem like the nasty, bullying vigilantes of an oppressive regime, and, no doubt, they’re being hypocritical and breaking the rules themselves, when they feel like it. I want to say, “can’t you just trust people to make sensible decisions for themselves?”
The problem for me is that you probably can’t, and shaming seems to work. People don’t keep slavishly to the rules. We get slack; we cut corners. We need more than reminders, we need to fear the consequences. People say that they are much less likely to break the rules after seeing somebody else get roasted. People who have had house-parties have apologised and haven’t done it again. So this nasty, mean-spirited, behaviour may genuinely save lives. People can congratulate themselves for being ungenerous, disdainful and misanthropic. This may be what is necessary. The horrible people are the good, community-minded people.
I naturally revolt at these restrictions. When I see the queue for the supermarket, each person dutifully two metres behind the next, I want to shout “Oh, for Fuck’s Sake!” and just run through the doorway. (I imagine myself being chased up and down the aisles by security.) When I see other citizens out for a walk and we smilingly give each other a wide berth, I want to shout, “Ooh! look, strangers! Let’s lick them!” and then charge at them, waving my arms and shouting, “Cuddles!”, while they scatter in terror.
I wonder if my parents’ defiantly pro-British stance, in the face of Irish orthodoxy, unconsciously trained me to be socially wayward. They, as Brits living in The Republic, were displaying a deeply conservative loyalty to their roots. But I was born and raised in Ireland. So, ironically, they were training me to have a contrarian and resistant way of thinking.
Then, again, I haven’t given in to the urges to shoulder barge the supermarket entrance, so probably everyone feels this way, but hides it. Still, they seem to know that it’s wrong and so they have the strength to restrain themselves with good humour.
It doesn’t feel wrong to me, so I know I’m going to bend the rules as much as I can, when no-one’s looking, but lack the courage to admit it. And I’ll be petulant when I can’t. I know I’m going to try to find reasons for it, and rant at Jo about them, then feel humiliated when she puts me straight.
It would help if I was sure that the lock-down was the right thing to do, but even the scientists aren’t sure. It would help if I could see the immediate consequences of my good or bad behaviour, but, of course, it’s all theoretical. No one drops dead in front of you if you go for an extra trip to the shops; no one recovers dramatically directly because you stayed in bed.
Meanwhile, the papers are full of heartening stories of everyone pulling together to help each other. The Queen has made an address to the nation full of phrases like “common British decency” and “plain good sense”. This platitudinous, self-congratulatory nonsense really puts my hackles up, partly because it shames me. I don’t recognise this society of good-natured, caring philanthropists, and I’m certainly not part of it, if it exists. I really want to, but I can’t see a way of to get involved to help my neighbours. Nobody seems to need me.
So, I’m left with the sense that everybody is coping with this far better than me. They are much more caring, socially responsible, good citizens. Over the years I’ve taken far more from the NHS, with my anorexia and my Graves’ Disease, than I’ve ever put back in taxes or effort or any form of support. I am a pariah