The image here is proof that you should never take a screen grab from a piece of video footage and expect to look half-decent in it.  And this wasn’t my first attempt.  It comes from the social media message I recorded for ‘Versus Arthritis’ at the end of last week, which was played out via twitter and facebook on Wednesday night.  The charity asked me to say a few words about social isolation, how I was finding it, and then to make a few suggestions as to how we might all get through it.  I didn’t think I said anything especially profound, but many of you have been very generous in your responses.  There’ve been some heartrending messages too.  So here’s a flavour of them, without any names attached….

“finally catching up on sorting photos, decorating and lots of baking”

“I walk every day along a route where I know I will not meet anyone.  This helps me feel safe when out.”

“I crochet, attempt jigsaw puzzles…..I have also reduced how many times I catch up with the news each day….”

“I’ve been continuing to do volunteer work from home for a couple of organisations including the charity with some physical activity video work indoors and outdoors, all in between working from home and caring for two elderly parents.  And with the busyness and variety each day, I’m finding it to be good both mentally and physically……but wearing me out”.

“I am starting piano lessons today over the internet.  I am also trying to learn Spanish.”

“I have a physical job anyway so I need to maintain that if possible.  Although the down side is being very tired and grumpy at times!”

Those are the positive ones.  I wouldn’t be fairly reflecting the responses if I didn’t mention that some of them – the minority – were much less uplifting.  “I’m feeling very lonely at the moment and I’m struggling with being on my own.”  That was a sentiment that came through from several people.  What was heartening in those circumstances was the speed at which others joined the conversation, and tried to offer support, advice, a distant shoulder.  Sometimes, frankly, we don’t feel like learning a new language or taking up crocheting and it’s nice to know….that on those days….there is a ‘community’ to help.

One other thing that emerged was the inconsistency of advice we’re being given.  I had the letter advising shielding or very careful self-isolation, and have followed it pretty much to the letter.  Others are less sure.  One suggestion was to look at a scoring chart on the British Rheumatology Society website, which gauges your risk depending on the medication you take and any other health conditions you may have.  It looks potentially helpful.

Anyway, as I say at the end of the social media message……stay well.