So, when lockdown finally comes to an end, the big party will probably start.
That will be an intense time, because there will also be people who will have kept completely withdrawn until then. We will have to take particular care of them. Friends, relatives and also the support systems will be called on to give these people some help to make a start.
You mean if I hear noticeably less from someone in my circle of friends, it is better to check on them more?
Exactly. Extending an invitation and saying ‘Come on, let’s go out together’ helps for a lot of people. Those who have withdrawn too far by then may need professional help. This isn’t just a future possibility but has already begun and is increasing. It is relatively well researched that psychiatric problems do not arise so much during the crisis but usually only afterwards, when ‘normal life’ resumes. I believe that is when there will be a great need for support.
If I need professional help, will I notice it myself?
Some people know. For others it is not clear, and some people are ashamed. If someone speaks to you in confidence and you can tell that the issue goes beyond the possibilities of conversational intervention, it is a good idea to talk about where professional options can be found. It often makes this step easier if a trusted person suggests this or even goes along. Many people will need that. You can’t go wrong by saying ‘I’m worried about you’.
What’s your general advice to ward off the ‘coronavirus blues’?
Reach out and make contact, whether by phone or virtually. When things get tough, take time for yourself. And give yourself permission to do that – leave the family be for a couple of hours and take yourself off. If I’m working too much, I should set myself clear limits: today I’ll stop at 4 pm and watch crime shows or whatever does me good. And talking with people you like is always helpful.