Lockdown hit South Africa on 26 March 2020, so effectively my fellow South Africans and I have almost been in lockdown for a year. It’s easier now than it was a year ago, because I’ve learned to accept things I can’t change.
The first three weeks were the toughest. Because I live alone, it was even worse. I had nobody in the house with me, and my neighbours were nowhere to be seen. I craved company and so I had a daily video chat with my parents and friends, but it’s not the same as human contact.
Another thing that happened during those first few days, to be honest is, I don’t know if I showered or brushed my teeth for the first few days. I had no reason to get out of bed, so I slept most of the days away. I remember having to go to the shop for groceries one day. Having to get dressed and start the car seemed like an insurmountable task. Driving along the empty streets, I felt like a criminal. It was eerie. I was scared. I had a strong urge to withdraw from my online interactions, but instead decided to keep a lockdown diary on my blog. It gave me a goal for each day.
As the hard lockdown continued I thought I’d catch up on my ever-growing to-be-read-pile. Before lockdown I was a voracious reader, but now I struggle to get through a novel. I wondered if I was the only one experiencing this, but I’ve heard on various forums that it isn’t the case.
I joined the baking wagon during lockdown, but unlike many people who baked banana bread, I baked Amish apple and cinnamon loaves. Turning each one out onto the cooling rack gave me a sense of accomplishment. I began experimenting in my small kitchen with other things too and discovered that even though I only have two plates and a small oven, I can make some stellar dishes.
As lockdown relaxed, I was able to resume work, remotely. It was at this juncture that I realised how big an impact my job has on my day-to-day life. Knowing my logins would be monitored, I began taking myself more seriously again. Admittedly there were days when I wore pajamas to work, and others I got dressed and styled my hair, even though I knew nobody would see me.
Later, as lockdown relaxed even more, I went to see some close friends and my parents; aware of, and practicing all the safety protocols as far as possible. There was solace in the familiarity of it all, but still, I have a deep knowing within myself that nothing will be the way it was pre-Coronavirus.
Just this past weekend I had to drive over 30 miles to see a walk-in doctor because I don’t have medical insurance. The consultation was for a backache that had been plaguing me for ten days. Upon examination, it turned out that I was running a fever of 38.6 Degrees Celsius (101.4 Fahrenheit) and my oxygen levels were below normal. Although the doctor didn’t instruct me to go for the test, I did, feeling it was the responsible thing to do. The twenty-four hours it took for the lab results felt like a lifetime. I was anxious and I couldn’t sleep, despite the heavy medication I’d been prescribed for my back. It was tough to quieten the voices in my head. Fortunately, the results were negative.
Everyone will experience lockdown differently. As someone who has lived with depression for more than twelve years, my advice is not to be too hard on yourself, but at the same time knowing your triggers and getting help before you spiral. Take things one day at a time.
A bit about Priscilla:
Priscilla is a regular 40-something South African with extensive qualifications in Import and Export management and is currently employed as a Marketing Assistant for the largest producer of ostrich leather in the world. She also possesses certification in the fields of proofreading and copy-editing. Her biggest aspiration is to one day travel far and wide and share her stories.
All photos contained within this blog are Priscilla’s own, unless otherwise specified, and may not be used without prior permission.