Working in communication, I’m a natural news hound. Pre-crisis my day would start by reading the paper online before even getting out of bed. I told myself the blue light helped wake me up.
Once up, I’d listen to the Today programme. At lunch, it would be The World at One, Sky News or CNN. PM would be on as we cooked dinner, Newsnight before bed. I had alerts set up on my phone from Reuters, The New York Times and The Guardian. All in all, I considered myself suitably ‘informed’.
Then the crisis hit and news consumption seemed to take over my entire day. I found myself glued to my phone even while watching the TV news bulletins so that I could scan for any breaking news or anything on Twitter that could fill in the gaps from the reporting.
It was the footage from the intensive care units that finally convinced me that I had to take a break. Seeing it was hard enough, but then one piece happened to broadcast, not just the images, but also the sounds. Hearing the beeps and alarms from the intensive care machines sent me straight back to the week I lived beside my mum’s hospital bed and I found myself fighting off a panic attack. I had to disconnect.
I still wrestled with the idea, feeling that in some ways it was bordering on the disrespectful. If I could do nothing else, couldn’t I at least bear witness to these stories of heroism and sacrifice? The honest answer when at last it came, was ‘No. One day, but not right now.’
That was three weeks ago and while I’m not exactly laughing from the rooftops, on the whole, I’m markedly calmer and a lot stronger for it. My husband checks in on the headlines each day just so that we’re not completely in the dark, but for a little while at least, I’m happy to stay disconnected.