I’m doing fine… I work online…

Out in the sunshine away from Zoom calls….

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks. First because I was head down writing my end of module assignment for my MA, and then recovering from writing it. And COVID19 began to have increasingly more impact on daily life, and for a while I wasn’t coping very well.

Those of you who know me, or have read this blog post will know that I suffer from performance anxiety, and I have battled with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. The last few years I have felt well, both mentally and physically, but a couple of weeks ago I began suffer anxiety at a crippling level again. I couldn’t think. I wanted to crawl under a duvet and sleep for a month which was ironic as I couldn’t actually sleep. I cried, a lot.

It was a reaction to and a reflection of the massive levels of anxiety in the world. Lots of people I know felt it too. Are still feeling it now. Berne Browne talks about ‘collective vulnerability’ and the self protection and fear that accompanies it (see quote below). For some people that’s buying all the toilet paper and pasta in Tesco and Asda, for some people it’s curling up in a ball for a while.

This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection.

Berne Browne, Collective Vulnerability, the FFTs of online learning and the sacredness of bored kids. 25th March 2020

Then last Monday, and it feels like a lifetime ago rather than 11 days, following that days announcements all my face to face work with parents and students stopped. It was a weird thing, one minute I was getting ready to go out and teach, the next I was unpacking the car. NCT have been amazing in their support for practitioners and parents. Within hours of face to face teaching stopping we were conducting antenatal and breastfeeding sessions online using Zoom, to create an interactive course and experience for parents as close to a regular antenatal class as we could manage. I facilitated my first sessions last week, and although there were some rabbit in the headlights moments, it was okay, I was okay.

And I was. The anxiety had subsided as I had something I could do. I couldn’t change the empty supermarket shelves or stop people meeting in groups, but I could support parents. I’ve moved my Pregnancy yoga and Mum and Baby yoga classes online too. Many of these women are extremely anxious in these increasingly challenging times, I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to be pregnant or have a young baby right now. Relaxation, breathing and some normality has been, they tell me, very helpful. It’s been helpful to me as well!

My MA in Online and Distance Education studies have been put into practice in ways I hadn’t imagined they would be! Nothing like a bit of real world pressure to make you up your game!

My fellow practitioners have been amazing, we’ve been working as a real community of practice sharing resources and ideas, online of course. We’ve been celebrating successes, working through new challenges and sharing laughter. The title of this blog comes from the amazing Pauline Erye, a fellow antenatal practitioner who is a stand up comic in real life, who has kept us all laughing with regular parody songs (see below for an example).

I still have anxious moments but I have coping mechanisms back in place. It would be strange not to feel anxious in this mixed up world. But really, I’m doing fine…. I work online.

P.S. I’m still singing. The amazing Ashley Mellor has organised a variety of online choirs, where he gets the energy from I have no idea! This also helps!

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