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Cabin Fever.

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, April 1st, 2020 - 38 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

I’ve spent a large part of my life in dangerous environments, often for longish periods, with small groups of people.

I get to stay home with my family, I can walk whenever I like, not just a half hour jog around the helideck once a day, I don’t have to wait until we get to a port where the schedule allows us to get ashore, I get to cook whatever food I want, sit out in the sun all day if I wish.

Great! Should be finding it easy? Right!

Not so much, even after a few days.

The biggest difference for me, is that it is not me particularly, in danger, It is my family, my elderly parents and my friends, work mates and neighbours. Worries we all share.

The next is having a houseful of young adults, without enough to do, who are not used to being in those situations, and don’t get on that well at the best of times. Including an under 25 year old male, who is of course “10 foot tall and bulletproof”, as we all were. Whose normal reaction is that it won’t happen to him or those around him. The reason why 18 to 25 year olds are used as cannon fodder, when we have a war. Persuading him of the need to take precautions, when he returns daily from his farm contracting, has been difficult.

Having a young baby in the house and two people at high risk, finally got through to him.

Of course we have it easy in many ways. We have house with a well stocked fridge, food supplies, a nice locality to walk around, no school age kids, no teenagers, and a big back yard. As we were reminded, %MCEPASTEBIN%

Cabin Fever” is a real thing, in many of the jobs I’ve done., even with people who have done the job all their lives.

An extra long sea voyage, problems at home, too long on a ship without a break, latent mental health issues, being constantly on call, having to be aware the whole time of avoiding danger, gets almost everyone down at some stage.

We train how to deal with it, of course.

Everyone has their own “coping” methods.

It is important to remember that everyone is different, and what helps one person to cope can make things worse for another.

For my wife it is gardening, for my son above it is spending his day doing tough physical work, for me it is sailing, when I’m at sea going walking or cycling whenever possible, for many it is fishing or sport.

A huge number of people can no longer carry out their normal coping activities, at a time when they most need them.

On long voyages we have things like Toga parties, movie nights, spoof evenings, deck games and other activities. Many of those can be adapted to home. There are unwritten rules about both personal space and socialising.

At home you can try and give everyone a personal space where they can shut the door. Explain that “alone time” is important, and if someone is in their room with the door shut, they should be left alone. While keeping a lookout for signs of depression of course.

“Alone time” is especially necessary for teenagers and parents of young children.

The Government did exactly the right thing, telling everyone they can take outdoor exercise locally within the necessary physical distancing rules.
Trusting people to be sensible about the possibilities of virus spread. To trust that most people will , given the information and criteria, will make the right decisions for themselves and others.

The family with young kids, driving around looking for teddy bears, is not “driving unnecessarily” they are trying to keep those kids happy and healthy during the lockdown. The old lady driving down the local estuary for swim, cannot walk more than a few metres, and that is how she has got her exercise for the last decade. That young bloke swimming in the sea, has cystic fibrosis. It helps his lungs. The three hour walk, I took my son on yesterday, was the alternative to his siblings wanting to kill him. The bloke fishing off the wharf has anger problems. He is distancing himself from his elderly, in-laws.

It is important for public support and the robustness of the lockdown, that the restrictions on “blowing out the cobwebs” are ones that are necessary to prevent the virus spreading, not an exercise for authoritarian “control freaks” to impose detailed, confusing and ever changing rules.

There is no way, even with the army and tribes of ” curtain twitchers”, we can make this work, without trust and reliance on each other.

It works. We are not having the “Zombie apocalypse” predicted by science. 

On the whole, all around the world, everyday people are doing their best to look after each other.

As this post is intended to encourage, please feel free to comment on how to help people through this.

I’m planning separate political post/s so we can indulge in our “coping strategy” looking for political and economic solutions. Please keep those sorts of comments for them, or other posts.

‘Be Kind”.

38 comments on “Cabin Fever.”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Good post KJT.  I just cleaned up some formatting on the post..  Go well.

  2. weka 2

    Nice one KJT.

  3. weka 3

    There's been a few instances in my neighbourhood of people maybe having parties. Loud music and more voices that I would expect for those bubbles. I've been slowly thinking through what I might do it they were, tossing up the value of adhering to the rules vs the value of neighbourly relationships. Mostly I'm leaving it alone and assuming they're doing the best they can. I haven't gone to check, but instead using the opportunity to look at my own responses and take time to think things through.

    • KJT 3.1

      Was getting a bit antsy about the neighbours toing and froing.

      As it turned out, they have grandkids in a "blended family" and an "essential worker" at their place.

      In the end they decided to leave the grandkids at the other household, with their mum, and keep away from them. A hard decision for them.

      • Carolyn_Nth 3.1.1

        Last night there was a loud kerfuffle in my Hood.  It sounded like a new neighbour, with family working on their garden til after dark, was in an altercation with some other person.  He sounded angry and kept shouting "get out of my house", although was in his front yard.  Seemed to go on for a while.

        I looked out my window to start with. Then decided the family would sort it out. It seemed to be verbal, not physical.

        People are under stress.

      • weka 3.1.2

        Yesterday it was a large group of people singing Happy Birthday. I'm just trying not to think about it now.

        • James

          Sad to say – they will take it more serious when one of their friends or family die.  It is a sad reflection that it takes something like for some people to get the message.


          • weka

            NZ might get lucky and not have that many deaths. So it's someone else's family/friend that dies. Or we end up in lock down for the rest of the year and that negatively affects some more than others. I'm guessing there are people just not paying attention at the moment, but it's also likely people are struggling to understand the complexities and nuances.

  4. Anne 4

    Laughter is one of the best medicines. Like my immediate neighbours and myself:

    We put our rubbish bins out – complete with stickers – on Monday night for Tuesday pick up. Never happened. Stickers remained intact. Neighbour rings council this morning and tells them they missed our street. Council tells him someone will be along in the next day or two. I live up r.o.w. so asked neighbour what the rest of the street has done. He goes out and looks. Comes back and says they've taken their bins back in. "More fool them" says I, "at least we'll get ours emptied". Conversation ends on smug note.

    Five minutes later I hear the rumbling sound of a bin being dragged up my drive. Neighbour with my empty bin. Neither of us had bothered to actually look to see if they had been emptied.   

    So who were the dumbies then? 

    • weka 4.1


      What are the stickers for?

      • Anne 4.1.1

        We buy different coloured stickers depending on the size of our bins. If you don't have a sticker on your bin the collectors are not supposed to empty them. But they do. Once in a while I forget to attach but they still empty it. 

        There were only two bins still left on the kerbside in the whole street – mine and my neighbours – yet the penny still didn't drop. 🙄 

        Edit: its in lieu of not having cost incorporated in our rates. Suspect council is the winner. 👿

        • weka

          Who paid for the bins?

          • Anne

            They belong to council. If we sell or shift we have to leave bins behind and they will collect. Its a user pays system which is fairer because it means everyone including renters share the cost.

            • Carolyn_Nth

              How do you check people aren't putting their rubbish in someone else's bin?

              That happens fairly frequently to me.  In the last few months someone put wood and biggish strips of metal in my bin and other people’s – stuff that shouldn’t go in bins. I took it out of my bin but don’t know what happened to it.

              The bins for our block of flats are all in one place, and cannot be seen from anyone's window.

              • Anne

                How do you check people aren't putting their rubbish in someone else's bin?

                Don't know. We had problems in our street when this system began about three years ago, but since then – nothing. Why? No idea. 😕

                • weka

                  Someone in my street was getting their bin filled by someone else, so they left a generic but rather pointed note that everyone could see.

                • Carolyn_Nth

                  It may be harder to deal with in a block of flats. It's a system that probably suits stand alone houses on sections rather than apartments.

                  Though, not everyone's bin was clearly labelled with their flat number on til very recently.  I got a sticker with my number on it a couple of years back, as did a couple of other tenants.

                  Then, a few weeks ago, someone stuck professionally printed numbers on everyone's bin. Might have been a Covid-19 response so people aren't touching other people's bins… or a response to the nitwit who put wood and metal in a couple of bins.

  5. Ad 5

    Good writing there.

    I am alone for the duration of lockdown

    A strong personal operating rhythm is close to all one has.

  6. McFlock 6

    Great post.

    My malfunction is that I live alone. I didn't realise how much my life revolved around coffees and the weekly pub night with mates, the movies, theatre. All the shit that's been shut down lol.

    Home was almost a bivouac, a place to slowly start the day and decompress on an evening or in the weekend.

    Now it's a trap. One zoom meeting and a phone call a day. Supermarket every few days.

    Bugger this for three more weeks.


    On the plus side, I'm growing a full beard.

    • ianmac 6.1

      "On the plus side, I'm growing a full beard."

      Wondered about that. Over the weeks there will be growth of very long hair till we all look like a return of the Hippies.

      • mickysavage 6.1.1

        Heh I have not shaved for a week.  Must be a collective conscience thing.

        • mikesh

          I thought of doing the same but, about three days in, my wife told me I looked pretty scruffy so i went and shaved. On the other hand, though, I needed a haircut prior to the start of lockdown but forgot. I dread to think what I will look like tonsorially after  five weeks of this.

        • lprent

          God, when I went home – after about 4 days I suddenly realised that I had time to to play with the electric beard trimmer and to cut the foliage back. I haven't had a chance to disassemble the blades to fix it since I went to the UK in December.

          But I also played with the battery after opening the case to look at that as well. It is a nickel battery. The draw on the current says that the battery has one clip in it before it runs out of power.  It won't clip on the charger. And the designer has put the battery tabs directly into the PCB – in other words not particularly replaceable if you want it to be reasonably safe. 

          I now have a spec for what kind of replacement I need. Decent motor. Lithium replaceable batteries. Standard voltage. Ideally self-sharpening blades. Something like IP67. Able to run off the DC adapter.  

          I'm not really into throw away junk. Looks lie I will have to spend a little more to stop looking like santa claus with a puffy white beard.

  7. mac1 7

    "On the plus side, I'm growing a full beard."

    I'm trying to grow a Santa-sized beard in a full year, and I am hoping that things will be so much improved in November that we can once again countenance Santas with children on the knee, queues, presents, lollies, letters to Santa, group photos.

    So much to lose if we don't get the isolation part sorted.

    Also for a 70 yr old Santa, how safe will that be if unprotected by antibodies from a virus already contracted or vaccine?

    But my main point, McFlock, was that I hope there are thousands of men like yourself taking the opportunity to sprout the facial fungus so that leaving Level 4 there will be a massed parade of the bounty of nature in all its curly, wavy, fuzzy, brown, black, ginger, white, fair, groomed or wild, shaped or au naturel, myriad forms……  Something to twirl, to flaunt, to add to argument and discussion, to ponder with, muse upon, opine upon……

    Beards, beautiful or scruffy, juvenile or dignified, Santa or Satan….

  8. RedLogix 9

    Good strong post written from direct experience. 

    My brother in law has spent 6 weeks in his Shanghai apartment and is only just starting to get out; he says it was tough at times but once he stopped worrying about how he felt about it and just got on with things he could control it was much less bothersome. 

    Now is a good time to build some personal discipline; I'm making myself work through several math oriented YT's each day, and pay proper attention. Without so many daily tasks and distractions, it's the perfect opportunity to tackle something you've always meant to 'get around to'.

  9. Firepig 10

    Unfortunately, "alone time" is impossible for those caring for spouses (and others, if they are on the same premises) with dementia, and there is now no respite care. There may be dire physical and mental consequences from this.  It is known that caregivers have a good chance of not surviving the person they care for because of the stress. There is no escape and no relief and no easy answer.

    There are different stressors for those whose partner or parent is in secure care – no visits have been permitted for weeks, and patients who had extra care from family (e.g. feeding when the staff are too busy) are declining and may not survive the lockdown period. 

    It's hard to feel encouraged.


    • Rosemary McDonald 10.1

      Firepig. What I do for my partner requires physical strength and stamina and strict adherence to good practice to ensure he remains well.

      I don't know how I would cope had the fates added dementia to the mix…I guess I would cope, but it would be a challenge and a half.

      Not one single second of support do I begrudge those caring for a much loved one lost in the mists of this awful condition.

      There must be support groups with an on line presence? 

      As for those in care…we are not Spain. 

      Most caregivers in rest homes do really care and will step  up when loved ones who usually help at mealtimes can no longer visit.  

      Small comfort. 

      Most of us will get through this, stronger than Before.

      Kia kaha.




  10. aj 11

    This lock down will be very, very difficult for some individuals and families, and that's all the more reason for New Zealand to get this done right.

    Both my daughters and in families where both partners are working from home, with 2 kids each under 5. They are lucky, although they may not think so. They have work. I own a small essential business, a 1 acre property and motorcycle restoration projects do work on. (Even though important bits are stuck as far apart as Auckland to Invercargill). I am lucky. There will be people who will go close to the edge and my best wishes to to every one of them.

    The Simpson’s Mountain of Madness episode is very funny, here’s part 4.

  11. A 12

    Does anyone think that ongoing isolation could lead to widespread civil unrest soon?  Like in 2-3weeks.  Wish I better understood the psychology that was in play.

    Just watched a video showing shops in downtown Vancouver bring boarded up.  Looks depressing as entire streets are covered.  Theft/break ins are x 4 but in the video the opinion given is that riots are expected.

    Is there any way that the community can get ahead on this before police need to be called?  Or are we destined to peak through windows and watch with our beards + grey roots…

  12. AB 13

    Doing OK here so far. Working from home – still bits of work trickling through but next week may go dead. Doing prep to paint the spare bedroom – with teenage son helping. Been getting him to help with gardening too – ground preparation and sowing broad-beans, rocket, bok choy and some other things, putting up protection from birds. One small garden task a day. Walks are local – up the road and down to one of the inner harbour beaches – with tuis going bonkers at sunset and groups of goldfinches on the grass seed heads. Trying not to be judgmental of neighbours' level of compliance with lockdown (difficult!) and trying not to get irritated with fellow bubble inhabitants (also difficult). 

    So feeling very lucky and privileged. Worries of course – relatives living alone, income from next week, health, shocked by the grim scenes coming in from other places. 

  13. Peter 14

    The isolation has seen cabin fever hit Farrar. The government has killed off a media company according to him

    Sorry, just kidding about the cabin fever, that's the sort of rubbish he always puts out.


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