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Great Minds: Hamish and Kyle – On feeling disconnected from Covid

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Hamish and Kyle discuss setting healthy boundaries in the Covid-19 world and how to still have empathy. Video / NZ Herald

In this web series, psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald and Nutters Club co-host Hamish Williams look at mental health and how to navigate some of the more challenging parts of modern life. Today they ask if not caring about Covid right now makes us bad people.

Not too long ago I used to gather my family around the television at 1pm for the daily Covid update. Insistent that this was of critical importance, we would critique the officials as they walked to the podium.

The observation was that if it was anyone other than the Prime Minister, it was probably either really good news or really bad.

The Herald’s 90% vaccination target monitor became a go-to for me as I planned a wedding originally for 2021. Would we be able to have a stag do or a hens’ party? Would the levels let us have our original number of guests or the wedding day at all?

Covid became all encompassing and it was hard to think that there was anything else worth thinking about or considering.

And then on December 15th the lockdowns ended and over the next few months we were back to being able to move about with relative freedom, albeit still wearing masks here and there.

This week I couldn’t even tell you what the Covie numbers were, and I’m someone who listens to the radio, reads the news and even tunes into 6pm bulletins every day.

Just this month I almost lost my step-father to Covid. He managed to pull through thanks to the amazing team at Dunedin Hospital ICU unit, but there was a touch-and-go moment there.

Despite this happening, as well as acknowledging that Covid-19 will be one of the biggest events of the 21st century, my actions suggest that I don’t care as much anymore, certainly not as much as I did.

I’m not making accusations but I don’t think I’m alone. Personally I feel a bit guilty not caring more than I do and so I’m beating myself up.

And so I ponder, am I a bad person for not caring?

“You might be told that; that sort of judgment flies about online,” says psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald. “In general Covid is a big deal. The human mind struggles to comprehend the scale of the global pandemic. It’s protective to try to allow us a way to not crumble under the sheer real threat to life that it presents.”

He’s not wrong. It’s been overwhelming in the extreme on multiple fronts and for each of us in our own way it’s had an effect.

“What’s hard is to not disconnect completely and act as if Covid has never happened. There are still things we need to do day to day and it is a good idea to find ways to care and pay attention but you’re not a bad person if you find yourself tuning out at the moment and just putting one foot in front of the other.”

So I’m not a bad person according to Kyle. It’s a case of information overload and not surprising that we might be burnt out over it.

The important idea is to still find space to care about Covid. This is especially important to people who might be directly affected by the virus.

We can’t hide from Covid’s existence but in moving on, make sure you do what you can to look after you and yours for those that are affected. We all need a bit of support at times and especially now.

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