Sara Collins is Chartered Clinical Psychologist, a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, and a Psychoanalyst. Formerly Director of Training and Board member at the British Psychoanalytic Association, Sara is now a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, teaching widely and presenting papers in the U.K and abroad. Sara spent many years working in the NHS and is now in private practice. She has been published in several books, and written articles for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. As an opera lover she has also published articles on Opera and Psychoanalysis: www.ipa.world/IPA/en/CultureBooks/Music/en/CultureBooks/Music.aspx
Born in Jerusalem, Sara studied English Literature and Clinical Psychology at the Hebrew University, then moved to Cambridge for post-graduate studies on a British Council Scholarship. She then did her psychotherapy and psychoanalysis trainings in London where she lives and works.
Here, Sara shares two strikingly different anecdotal pieces, which convey the way in which the pandemic has had an impact on our mental wellbeing.
On Monday Rebecca texts:
‘Am having a delivery from Ocado. Anything U need?’
‘A cucumber’ I replied. Keep it short and modest I thought. You never know what the future holds.
She texts back: ‘What kind of cucumbers? The ordinary ones or the mini Japanese ones?’
Never heard of Japanese or mini cucumbers. Why not try something new, if it’s on offer, I considered, recoiling at the thought of that, in Corona times.
‘The mini ones’ I text back. ‘Only if no trouble’.
On Thursday I text Rebecca:
‘Am having a delivery from Alan’, the fruit and veg stall at the bottom of our road. ‘Anything U need?’
Rebecca: ‘Am fine, thanx. You might ask him if he has the mini Japanese cucumbers U wanted. Why wait till next week for my delivery’
‘No worries’ I shoot a text back. Thinking: ‘I will not bother, a cucumber is a cucumber, damn those Japanese whatchamacallits’. Saga of said vegetable over, I return to writing my will.
My phone pings: ‘But do let me know if he doesn’t have them. I won’t cancel it from my list for now’, Rebecca again.
I wish this never started.
I reply: ‘No worries, but let’s leave it’.
Saturday morning phone screen lights up. Rebecca again:
‘Did you get your mini cucumbers? I can’t change my order. They are coming’
I see green shaped bullets piercing holes in my front door, swooping in, swarming inside like locusts, settling on every surface.
‘Ok, gr8’ I text back through gritted teeth. ‘Do U need anything?’ Easy to keep good manners in texts, I think.
Rebecca: ‘Just fennel seeds for my special recipe, and a couple spoonful of flour. None in the shops. Mums are buying it up for baking with children at home. Don’t want to deprive. But really do need it to thicken the gravy.
‘I have both’ my fingers now beating hard on the phone keys.
I return to writing my will, ‘gravy’ and ‘thickening the sauce’ clanking in my head, jarring like banging pots. I glance at the BBC news strip on the muted iPad. Eight hundred and thirty-two deaths in the UK since yesterday.
(a prose poem)
I have an issue with Magnolia. Her explosion into pinkness, now I am with ‘stay at home’. With no fear of Covid and no warning, she is a brash announcement, like a woman unbuttoning a winter coat to reveal flesh. She proclaims (no modesty either): ‘here I am, take me’. Dashing forth, bursting into viral infected air with elongated plumpness. Clad with a profusion of petals, she dares you to ignore her, just as you go inward.
‘Where is your leaf? say I. – With no time for cautious preamble, like protective greenery for instance, Magnolia is in full display.
It is all too much for me. I protest: ‘Not yet’. For I have put away my sensuality with the moth balls for wary lockdown time. I object to her entitlement, claiming this whole season for herself! Like a suitor advancing, throwing caution to the wind. I am for the measured approach. You need to handle me with care.
There once was a Spring in Jerusalem, where things were not so plentiful of colour. No dramatic hues of flushed rosiness out in abundance. There Yaffa Birnbaum, my dead sister, she knew about Passover. The ‘Festival of Spring’ we called it, and we drew butterflies, my sister and I. Yaffa sewed one new dress for each of us, with embroidery on the pockets, which our mother filled with walnuts.
Sara Collins, firstname.lastname@example.org