Day 93 of national lockdown. Although the thought of lockdown scared me the first time I heard about it, I can honestly say it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I could even go as far as to say that, in some ways, I’m actually enjoying it.
Of course, I do realise that I’m in a position of privilege. Unlike many of my fellow South Africans, I am earning a steady income. I come from a financially stable family and I am engaged to a wonderful man who is employed by an essential services company.
Moreover, I am doing well mentally too. I’ve been feeling very calm and content, even though I’m stuck inside. Introverts will understand. 😉
I chose to spend the lockdown with my fiance Petrie. We weren’t supposed to move in together yet, as our plan was to wait till we’re married. But we couldn’t stand the thought of not seeing each other for three weeks, so my parents said it’s okay if I stay with him for the duration of the lockdown only.
Little did we know that three weeks would turn into, well, 100+ days…
But Petrie and I are doing very, very well. If lockdown were to be a test to see whether we should live together or not, we’d pass with flying colours. My love for him has grown even deeper and I am truly happy.
We have our own little lockdown routine: Wake up at 8 or 9, start working, take turns making coffee and cereal for breakfast, work, have lunch (usually leftovers), work, make dinner, binge watch series (currently it’s The Ranch), cuddle, go to sleep.
It’s a simple life, life as a couple locked down together, but I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would!
One of the things I miss most is working out at the gym with Petrie, though. I miss that feeling of pushing my body to its limit, adrenaline rushing through my veins, making me feel alive.
Go for a run, they say. No. It’s not for me. I’m one of those people who hates running; it makes me feel awful. Running hurts my entire body and that constant feeling of being out of breath makes me feel anxious.
And I really don’t like feeling anxious.
…which brings me to one of my favourite things about this lockdown: My anxiety has been pretty much nonexistent.
At first, I found it really strange that I did not experience any anxiety during the lockdown. I mean, it’s a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty. Almost nothing is the way it is supposed to be.
But then, one night when I was lying awake for what felt like hours (the only symptom of my anxiety that I was still experiencing), I decided to do some research to help me understand my particular type of anxiety better.
“Fear of being far away from a hospital,” I typed into Google. The exact source of most of my panic attacks.
And Google gave me the answer to the question that I have been mulling over in my head for quite some time.
I have agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a rare type of anxiety disorder; the fear of places and situations that you think will make you feel trapped and unable to get help, according to WebMD. “You may be willing to go just a handful of places, or you may even dread leaving your house.”
Agoraphobia is something I’ve heard of, but sort of forgot about.
But now that I actually understood it, it explained so much. Suddenly I understood why travelling to a small village in Mozambique was the event that triggered my anxiety. I understood why I avoided travelling to new places at all costs.
And I also understood why staying home for weeks and weeks made me feel so secure and content.
Watching YouTube videos and reading subreddits by other people who struggle with agoraphobia made me feel ecstatic. I was no longer alone in my struggle with this foreign fear that no one seemed to understand.
The way I see it, it’s another step in the journey to recovery. Now that I understand my anxiety better than ever, I can explore ways in which to deal with my type of anxiety.
For example, there is exposure therapy: Instead of keeping on avoiding places that make me feel anxious, I have to expose myself to these places gradually. The more I’ll be able to handle, the less my anxiety will be able to limit me and stop me from living my life.
But for now, our president specifically asked us to stay home, and who am I to object?