Minding my own business

18 Nov 2021
Bookmark

I have a friend who I will call Roy. He is a Covid victim, without actually having had the virus. He is blind, a retired academic who lost his wife to dementia some years ago. Before the pandemic he had regular visitors, attended events, went on holidays and to concerts with sighted friends, generally enjoying a better quality of life than many without his disability.

 

Then in March 2020 all that changed. His daughter came to stay, like most of us thinking this would be for a short time. She is a high powered professional, but adjusted her work to carry on from home. Roy was not one of the people told to fully shield, but he did so anyway. At first, he would have a good daily walk in a very quiet area, accompanied by his daughter. After a few months even that stopped, and apart from medical visits neither he or his daughter have left the house or had any visitors, even on the doorstep, for over a year. Everything is delivered and left outside. A friend made a shepherds pie and left it outside. It was thrown away in case it carried the virus.

 

I have visited him for years to read and do bits of admin. The reading was changed to phone calls until this month when we have resumed home visits. Everyone else is delighted, except Roy who wants to keep only telephone contact. He has become obsessed with his health. I have lost count of the tests, scans and surgical procedures he has had in the last 18 months, all finding nothing of concern. This week alone he has 3 appointments at different hospitals. I can only imagine that his daughter has considerable clout through her work, when we hear of the huge NHS backlog.

 

All the inactivity is taking a toll on his balance and energy. He fell over and knocked himself out, leading to even more tests. He has an exercise bike, but won’t use it in case he sprains something.

 

My dilemma involves keeping my mouth shut. I know the pandemic has been horrendous, I have taken all reasonable precautions and followed the rules. My friend, like me, had all his jabs, and we spoke about the hope it gave for all of us. For him though, nothing has changed. I can’t understand why he is like this. I feel he has allowed the virus to take his life away from him anyway.

He knows I have struggled with depression and anxiety, although I have not gone into much detail. I suppose I could have a gentle word, hinting that maybe getting help for underlying anxiety would be wise. Again though I question my own motives. 

 

I know that it is none of my business. If he has chosen to spend the remainder of his life as a prisoner in his own home, how can that bother me so much?  It has brought me face to face with an aspect of myself that I don’t like. I have friends whose lifestyles are unorthodox, unhealthy, immoral and I have no desire to comment. This is probably because they reflect aspects of myself, past or present. What then gives me the right to feel offended by my friend’s behaviour? Inside I want to give him a “good talking to” but I know he would have every right to tell me to **** off. Actually, he would never do that. He loves that I happily read stuff to him that contains rudeness and swearing, but he once apologised for saying “bugger” in my presence.

 

Now I am welling up. He is a lovely lovely man, someone who has coped with problems that would destroy me. If he wants to admit defeat, give up, I should be saying he has earned that right.

 

Please Moodscopers, tell me to shut up, zip it, keep my nose out, stop being a nosy busybody, whatever comes to you. I could do with a good talking to. 

Val

A Moodscope member. 

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

Email us at support@moodscope.com to submit your own blog post!

Comments

Paul

Nov. 18, 2021, 5:32 a.m.

Hi Val thank you for today’s blog. You are obviously a very caring and considerate lady. Great values to hold you must be very frustrated watching your friend withdrawing from the world. I think I would be having a chat with him it does sound like Anxiety has got a grip of him. Could you make up a story about someone in a similar position and read it to him pointing out his similar circumstances, the story could have a nice outcome. It is sad so many people must be affected by this horrible pandemic without contacting Covid. The mental strain is immense. He is lucky to you in his life. Good luck Paul

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:35 p.m.

Thank you Paul.x

Sally

Nov. 18, 2021, 6:02 a.m.

Great blog, Val. A dilemma indeed . (It must be the week for dilemmas as I am struggling with one too.) And what a great word , dilemma, to describe the emotional wrestling that goes on in our brain, tossing and turning over ideas, rejecting some, toying with others, reaching no firm conclusion but still nevertheless wanting to resolve an important question and ....well, ....HELP, darn it!! I very much like the Jim Rohn quote Caroline has added at the foot of your piece too: “One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value” As all readers here will know, you are a very kind and compassionate person, Val, so naturally don’t like to see others suffer. Imagine blindness : already deeply vulnerable, then a horrid curve ball is sent, not tangible or palpable, to someone whose very senses depend on the power of touch! Bang!!. Another tool removed from under you. Dangers lurking everywhere, seemingly. This man, and for whatever reasons his daughter too, you say, has lost total trust with the big, wide world. It is desperately sad, yes, but who knows how we’d react if similarly afflicted. I have a friend who has Asperger syndrome. She told me again this week how beneficial lockdown had been for her as social pressures were lessened and she didn’t feel bad but GOOD to be forced to live with only her own company for months on end. “I’ve really enjoyed it! “She told me, laughing. As if admitting to a guilty pleasure. And I sort of knew what she meant although I don’t live alone as she does, and do have family living nearby. Her anxieties about mixing, the social pressures which daily trouble her , were no more during Covid. She could function better. She was told by the Government that that was what she must do anyway, and relished this “freedom”. She did however have a daily walk and as an IT expert, used her computer to do all sorts of things, communication, verbal- face-to-face-style , no longer a source of stress. My daughter, a counsellor for the N.S.P.C.C. often asks “How are you feeling?” Could you perhaps ask this man, and/ or his daughter that question ? And see what the reply is.? You just might learn something to lead you into tentatively making a suggestion....you’ll know how far to push the conversation by the sort of answer given and it could work if you ask the question more than just the once, over time, and unleash some words about the real fear (s) behind his/ her decision to carry out this indefinite lockdown of their own. Sort of what lies beneath...Really, really listening gives one unexpected insight in ways that truly surprise. Lead him/ her out, and see if you get anywhere. (I have only basic counsellor skills myself, not having gone through the diploma training to the end, but do believe that the listening ear approach does as much as any bit of advice I may feel tempted to offer. It’s worth a try. ). These seemingly paranoid tendencies of your blind neighbour/ friend are only the tip of a deep seated iceberg of fears that have gradually accumulated I think. Mental health has been a factor during Covid for huge swathes of people, and only time will tell if it’s permanent or delayed reaction for your friend whose world and control have been rocked by circumstances few expected. Finally, you don’t say what you read to him. Could you choose to introduce humorous reads that might relax an apparently very tense individual ? You yourself enjoy humour tremendously and I’m sure you’re already doing him/ them a power of good . Of course, this would depend on his reading preferences, but there are some side-splittingly funny books out there! Humour is a good medicine, and no side- effects!!!

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

Nov. 18, 2021, 6:34 a.m.

Wow, Sally, what a super reply. Many things in there that I had formed in my head to suggest to Val…..also think the idea of funny books is a great one - only side-effect being aching tummy muscles! Love Bear x x x

Sally

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:07 a.m.

Gee, thank you soo much, dear Bear!! ***

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:41 p.m.

Thank you Sally.It's his birthday tomorrow,so we'll have a natter on the phone.I will try again to get him to open up a bit more. His voice has changed too, flat and very quiet. ***

Janet

Nov. 18, 2021, 6:59 a.m.

This list helped me a lot - although in not such extreme circumstances as Roy, I could see how fear of Covid had “shrunk” my life. I can do something about that. As for "an intervention" , my rule of thumb is 'the hula-hoop principle'. If it is within my hula hoop, it is my business, if not, then I only intervene if asked!

Reply

Janet

Nov. 18, 2021, 6:59 a.m.

This list helped me a lot - although in not such extreme circumstances as Roy, I could see how fear of Covid had “shrunk” my life. I can do something about that. As for "an intervention" , my rule of thumb is 'the hula-hoop principle'. If it is within my hula hoop, it is my business, if not, then I only intervene if asked!

Reply

Sally

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:06 a.m.

Lovely hula hoop analogy, Janet! I’ll take that, if I may?

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:42 p.m.

Good luck with getting back the things you miss Janet.x

Bearofliddlebrain

Nov. 18, 2021, 7:06 a.m.

" …..tell me to shut up, zip it, keep my nose out, stop being a nosy busybody, whatever comes to you. I could do with a good talking to." Shut up, zip it, keep your nose out, stop being a nosy busybody, Val!!! Lolilol!!! Seriously? You’re going through what many others are thinking. There are many neighbours who have disappeared and are, even now, too scared to come out once more; let’s face it, we were all frightened into staying in lest we get infected or unknowingly infect others. For many, me included, the act of wiping everything that came into the home was a way of keeping the virus out. I stopped doing that last year when we were told we didn’t have to….the science proved it. A friend told me just this week, that friends of hers were still disinfecting everything and isolating the mail…but we know that is not how the virus spreads. People have been so badly frightened that it is hard for them to rein in that fear. Do as Sally suggests and keep mentioning the facts, find the funny books, tell him how anxious you were but aren’t any more, now that you’re triple jabbed (or double) and that things are getting back to ‘normal’. Offer to walk with him. Offer to go to an event he used to love going to. Have you tried to talk to his daughter and persuade her that her Dad needs to get out more? He needs to feel the sun on his face….she probably needs this herself. Sorry I have to whizz now - you are very kind to do what you can for him and with him. I don’t think you are being a nosy neighbour either! Love and Bear hugs x x x

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:56 p.m.

I have offered to walk him into the park,have a coffee at the outdoor cafe.He sounds uncomfortable,says "We'll see...." He tunes out anything optimistic about Covid,and seizes upon gloom and doom. I will keep trying though.***

Leah

Nov. 18, 2021, 8:23 a.m.

Val What a moving And sad blog. Just a thought could you talk to his daughter and see what she thinks.

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:46 p.m.

I have never met her.He is immensely proud of her,and I have suspected from things he says that there is more than a little OCD in her personality.The same may apply to him too.He is not exactly scared of her,but he would not go against her wishes.

Mortimer

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:03 a.m.

Grand blog Val, clearly describes the dilemma many of us find ourselves in wishing to support others but not wanting to be cloying, interfering or worse still exacerbating the situation. Certainly agree that criticism of others should be kept strictly private, in one’s own head preferably, and certainly not broadcast on the airwaves, just in case that very criticism fits oneself more accurately!

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:47 p.m.

Oh yes Mortimer, pot.kettle. black !

Jul

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:17 a.m.

Hello Val I think ultimately you must protect yourself so I would advise you to say and do whatever comes naturally and not try to supress how you really feel about Roy's situation. Until and unless it becomes clear to you that Roy will doggedly continue on his own path I have a very close friend who believes the conspiracy theories about the Covid vaccinations. She's an anti vaxxer. Fortunately for me she lives abroad. I have decided that she must live with her decision. Nothing I can say and have said will convince her she should have the vaccination so I have largely stopped mentioning it. Sometimes when I travel and it's made possible because I've been double jabbed, I'll include that in passing in my texts. However I find it's less stressful for me to be silent on the subject these days. I've not given up on her just given up on trying to change her outlook on the Covid jab. I examine my motives all the time Val. Ian's quote on Wednesday made me stand up and think. "The road to **** is paved with good intentions" Us who know you on Moodscope know what a kind caring person you are. Just be yourself. Jul xx

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:51 p.m.

Thank you Jul.I have to keep reminding myself that on top of the Covid panic,he feels vulnerable because he is blind. I am scared of saying something that hurts him.His friendship means a lot to me.***

Oli

Nov. 18, 2021, 3:06 p.m.

Hi Jul, like you I have (almost) stopped mentioning vaccination to my friend who's unvaccinated. It's interesting how varied beliefs can be which lead to the same behaviour. My friend is definitely *not* a conspiracy believing vaccine denier. She thinks vaccines are good and safe for most people -- but she's scared of vaccination because she does not believe she will respond like most people. (I believe she's totally incorrect in that assumption.) I admire her logical consistency though when she says that if she catches Covid the she won't seek medical attention. Let's see. I suspect it might be difficult to be logical when reality hits.

Jul

Nov. 18, 2021, 6:19 p.m.

Interesting Oli. My American friend has been in close contact with someone who has Covid and now has to self isolate from today and take tests. I have resisted the temptation to talk about the vaccination and just wished her well. I'm not sure how close we would be in these circumstances if she lived nearby. Jul xx

Teg

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:32 a.m.

Good morning Val I find this post very moving. I can relate both to Roy and yourself. I was very much like Roy for several months after Covid arrived. Gradually I ventured out a little way. It is only in the last few months I have socialised outside the home. You are a caring, loving person who has a dilemma. You are obviously concerned about Roy's welfare. You have supported him for a long time and now feel he is not doing as much as he can to help himself. I think you have to respect his own free will. That is not to say you should not gently make suggestions on how he could make his life better. There is a balance ( isn't there always?) Take care of yourself.

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:59 p.m.

Thank you Teg.Your words give me hope that he may yet start to feel a bit less terrified.I hate myself for feeling cross with him.x

Dragonfly

Nov. 18, 2021, 11:02 p.m.

Oh Val. You’re only cross because you care so much, so nothing to reproach yourself for there. I did wonder, as mentioned above, whether Roy’s blindness adds to his feelings of vulnerability. There’s evidently a complicated dynamic with the daughter too. There really are so many facets to this and fear is one of them. I still see many, mainly elderly, people walking along the pavement, alone, wearing a mask. I’d bet they’re double-jabbed. It’s quite sad to see. All you can do is, as you say, to keep trying - in your own inimitable way! and you might see a ***** in the armour, but please don’t be hard on yourself in the process xx

Sarah yellow rose

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:34 a.m.

Hi Val, thank you for your thought provoking blog today. This is just a thought I had, could your friend have found a way ( maybe subconsciously) to keep his daughter living with him? He is lucky to have your caring.

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 2:06 p.m.

Oh Yes Sarah,I do wonder about the same thing.He has become hugely dependant on her.He does not even make his own coffee now, he tells me. No sooner does one health scare get checked,than another looms up.When I ask if she will be going back home,the answer is "Not while everything is up in the air about my heart/kidneys/bladder/hip etc" x

Oli

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:55 a.m.

Thank you for the interesting blog Val. Typically pragmatic me: if Roy and his daughter are fully vaccinated then their vulnerability to getting serious consequences from Covid is significantly reduced. If they’re not fully vaccinated then yes, they have a problem. However, you describe a pair of people who are behaving in a way consistent with living in fear. In this case, fear of Covid but it’s a common behaviour and not limited to fear of this virus. Q: If you knew you were 100% safe at all times how would that change things for you? (In other words, how many of your choices in life are based in fear?) Fear is mostly based in thought; not in reality. As for what you do Val, difficult isn’t it? I’m playing the long game with a friend who’s not vaccinated. Can you imagine what it’s like for someone like me to zip it? But I do. I want to help them change but there is a monumental barrier in their thinking and, of course, it is based in fear.

Reply

Jul

Nov. 18, 2021, 10:21 a.m.

See my comment above Oli re. a friend of mine who refuses to be vaccinated. Jul xx

Teg

Nov. 18, 2021, 1:22 p.m.

Hi Oli I like the phrase "Fear is mostly based in thought not in reality". This so true. The other one I like is "Don't believe everything you think!"

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 2:08 p.m.

Both fully done,including boosters.To me that makes no sense, just to go back home and not go out again.

Oli

Nov. 18, 2021, 3:46 p.m.

I'd ask him/him and her that question then Val. It's not really about safety; it's about fear. And it's not really about the content of their answer; it's about giving them the space to have an insight. No guarantee they'll have one of course! xx

The Gardener

Nov. 18, 2021, 10:07 a.m.

Dear Val - never give up unless your own well-being, physical or mental, is at risk. You might have a break through with Roy. I longed and longed for somebody to come and read to Mr G. He had poor sight - I read half our bookshelves to him over 6 years. until Alzheimers stopped his ability to concentrate. I am not talking as an 'expert' but as an 'observer'. Covid has exacerbated a situation which arrives often, namely what the French call 'a l'abandon' or a 'coup de vieux' (old age strikes). Often after an illness or a hospital stay, the will power is just not there any more to do battle with an ever more difficult life. Imaginary illnesses (very real to the person) get you attention. They are also debilitating, atrophy of the muscles and the inevitable, with Mr G and my depressed friend, a care home. Go well, you are a courageous lady, a tonic, I reckon. xx

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 2:15 p.m.

Thank you for your kind words TG.It does seem to me that Roy has turned his face to the wall, given up. Having his daughter there for so long has been a very mixed blessing I think.Oddly,as she is tied into Zoom meetings and hearings (she is a judge) often at the weekends too,he is maybe more lonely than ever.***

silvia

Nov. 18, 2021, 10:20 a.m.

Dear Val, in my pinion, the fact that you care so much about your friend means that his wellbeing actually isyour business too. I think it's a great idea to have a gentle word, hinting that maybe getting help for underlying anxiety would be wise. From what you say, it is obvious that his behavour is not reasonable and borders with pathologic. I guess his behaviour strikes you more than your other friends' behaviour because it relates to your own anxiety, meaning you are more concerned about him. I will not tell you to shut up, I think you need to know that you have at least tried to help. Of course he can refuse your words, but at least you will know that you have tried. a hug Silvia

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 2:20 p.m.

I think you are right Silvia.To me anxiety has been a vile thing,and once it takes hold it is impossible to cure.I think I need to be a bit more honest with him about my own brand of madness.x

Orangeblossom

Nov. 18, 2021, 12:03 p.m.

Hi Val, thanks for the very thoughtful blog. You are obviously concerned about your friend who appears to be a victim of COVID, trapped by fear & anxiety. What Sally says makes a lot of sense. Being there for him & listening is the best service you can provide for him. Knowing you care may melt his frozen inner core. The fear that may be in-prisoning him.

Reply

Julie

Nov. 18, 2021, 12:14 p.m.

Thank you for sharing this Val. I was very moved and I very much appreciate the fact that you felt able to share this.

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 2:25 p.m.

Thanks Julie.I don't have many friends,so I treasure those I have now. ***

Bailey

Nov. 18, 2021, 3:27 p.m.

Hi Val; If you are asking me you are asking the wrong person perhaps...I have a tendency to tell anyone who looks fat in their dress that they do. Lol. Hence social distancing has always kinda been my social life...the truth always sets you free of the people who cant handle the truth, I always say. So here I am...free. I am learning to gently point things out...guess its aging or i am tired of apologizing.

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 18, 2021, 6:31 p.m.

I know that the truth can hurt,but if someone asks me I will be honest.I have become much more sensitive about hurting others with age.x

Liz

Nov. 18, 2021, 7:34 p.m.

Hi Val. How lucky is he to have a friend like you. That was my first thought, as I think he would be slowly putting people off from continuing with other friendships, even though it seems that he definitely has acute anxiety but perhaps cannot see it himsef. I'm not sure it's you who needs a talking to, in my opinion. Sending love and hugs for the best decision you feel you can make, when the time is right. x

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

Nov. 18, 2021, 7:59 p.m.

Val, me again! Just want to say I hope you feel proud of what you have blogged about today. There have been so many lovely, helpful responses. I also hope you feel that it has been cathartic to ‘get it out there’ and have gained valuable insight from the lovely Moodscopers. N night and bless you for being so open. Bear hugs x x x

Reply

Sheena

Nov. 18, 2021, 8:30 p.m.

Dear Val, You are respecting how Roy is choosing to be. Maintaining contact is supportive. Relax and allow yourself credit for doing what you can. All of us have our own views and opinions - accepting that others do to is a virtue Sheena

Reply

Tutti Frutti

Nov. 18, 2021, 9:58 p.m.

Hi Val I certainly don't feel like telling you to shut up and stop interfering. I think you are more concerned about what is going on with Roy than with some of your other friends who might not behave as expected because you can see how this narrowing of his horizons is damaging for him. You are right to be concerned and I just wish I had any answers to what you can do for the best. I quite liked other people's suggestions about listening to how he is feeling and perhaps opening up about your own struggles with anxiety though. Best wishes to you and to him. Love TF x

Reply

Sally

Nov. 18, 2021, 10:45 p.m.

Hi Val it would be good to know how it goes with “Roy” in time .

Reply

Valerie

Nov. 19, 2021, 8:05 a.m.

Thank you, wonderful lovely people.How did I cope without you all? I will write again about Roy.I am off to get him a Pieminster pie for his birthday,and hope he does not bin it! ***

Reply

Dave

Nov. 21, 2021, 8:58 p.m.

Hi Val, I’ve just this evening caught up with reading the blogs and yours is a truly moving one describing a really sensitive and difficult issue. My brain immediately went into problem solving mode but then I read all of the good counsel sent in by the other contributors and felt that there were enough wise words in there not to add more. I always love your warm and compassionate contributions and only hope that over time that this issue gets resolved – as long as you don’t risk our own well-being as we’d be less of a community without your contributions. Take care of yourself first and let’s hope that Roy and his daughter can come out of the Covid induced tunnel at some stage.

Reply

Login or Sign Up to Comment