“I was scared I would lose my husband. I was scared my children would lose a parent.”
AFTER 25 days of quarantine I bravely ventured back into the world. Off to the grocery I went.
Yeah… I wasn’t ready.
Nothing could have prepared me for the tsunami of anxiety that would come crashing over me as I saw people crowding each other and taking their merry time browsing the aisles, carrying on as if the pandemic was a distant thought.
I was completely aghast. The longer I spent around these oblivious folk the stronger the urge became to shout at the top of my lungs: “Hey Chupidees stop jack@$$ing the scene. I had Covid and by the looks of some of you, some of you here won’t make it!”
Turns out I am not okay. I mean I wasn’t okay before I had Covid, but I am super not okay after.
I am not alone.
The negative effect of the pandemic on the population’s mental health has been a cause for concern from the start.
Depression and anxiety spiked in the elderly population, especially during lockdown periods when they were isolated from their families, and other social activities.
A recent European study showed 64% of young Europeans between the ages of 18 to 29 are at risk from depression.
Studies aren’t needed to show us the negative emotional impact the pandemic is having upon our own population. The lockdown measures have left hundreds if not thousands financially strapped, and in constant state of stress and despair.
Last week I spoke on my experience having had Covid-19. Due to word limits (which I regularly test the limits of) I was unable to touch on one component of my experience, the effect it all had on my mental wellbeing. (Editor’s note: Yes she does test limits. This article is elegantly edited).
I believe we have already established that I may or may not have some anger issues and trust me these arose the second that first cough came busting out of my lungs.
I was angry because despite extremely careful, anally cautious, Covid had found its way into the sterile sanctuary of my home.
I cursed the Government for lack of vaccines and for being reactive instead of proactive. I cursed the Opposition for being counterproductive and casting doubt on every public health measure that has been taken. I cursed Trinbagonians for behaving like petulant teenagers and their inability to take responsibility for their own irresponsible actions.
Oooooo and I was mad at my husband. Yes, I know he didn’t purposefully go out and get it. I knew he was careful, but damn I was angry. Irrationally so.
The rage passed however and turned into something worse…
I was scared. I was scared things would get bad, that one of us would have to be hospitalised and that one of us or even both of us wouldn’t make it.
I was scared I would lose my husband. I was scared my children would lose a parent.
This fear was worse than any physical symptom. It was paralysing, overwhelming, and no matter how much I tried to reassure myself we would be okay, it continued to lurk in the back of my mind.
Fear and worry walk hand-in-hand. I feared for my children, scared they too would get sick. At the same time I worried about their wellbeing. How having two sick parents, unable to hold them or get close to them would affect them psychologically and how long those effects would last.
I am still scared. But now I am scared about the bigger picture. Will our nation come out of this? Will I lose a loved one? Will things get worse before they get better?
This is a strange one and perhaps is felt depending on each individual’s circumstance. I felt guilty that I may have put others at risk. I felt guilty that I was putting my children through such a harrowing ordeal.
An old secondary school friend of mine got Covid around the same time as I did. She didn’t make it past ten days.
An unfamiliar deeply penetrating guilt seamlessly blended with my grief.
In the most rationale terms, what I felt could only be described as survivor’s guilt.
It stains the gratitude I feel for coming out of Covid healthy and it haunts me.
So no I am not okay. Physically I am okay besides some residual tiredness but mentally I have a way to go.
You don’t just spring out of survival mode, it takes time.
I am not alone. Our entire country is bruised in one way, or another due to the pandemic. Everyone is a little damaged, fatigued and running out of hope.
What our powers that be need to recognise is that along with economic recovery, we need social recovery. Resources need to be put in place for our people. A booming economy will mean nothing if we have an emotionally fatigued, and strained population.
See Alicia’s previous commentary below: