I have never considered myself an anxious person. I am generally calm in the face of problems – this is not to say I don’t have the usual human reaction to events. Somehow, I generally find the strength to carry on courageously.
Some of the situations I have been unfortunate enough to witness include a religious crisis in Kano state. Being a Christian in a Muslim setting, I lived in lockdown mode in student accommodation and still thanking God! The crisis did not spill into campus (subsequent ones did). So, the situation was that we could not go out and food was not really there to be bought etc. I think my parents sent a car to get me out as soon as they could. They were happy when the opportunity arose for me to leave Kano state. I wasn’t sad!
This was followed by another lockdown in Jos during my uni years. My brother and I were on campus when another religious clash happened and I found myself stuck in school with no idea where my brother was. I prayed and stayed calm. Asked a few of his friends what they knew and committed everything to God’s hands. We were stuck on campus till a battalion of soldiers arrived and escorted us to the hostels. They stayed back to guard. It was a long scary walk in the middle of the night. It was unbelievably frightening. Who do you start worrying about, you or your family? Somehow, we got in contact with each other and somehow everyone knew everyone was safe. You see, a classmate’s brother died as he went about town looking for this classmate of mine. You quickly learn in times of crises not to shoot off looking for others until you are certain of your safety. Somehow, we got food to eat whilst stuck in the hostels making do with meager provisions held by friends. We prayed and waited until our parents again sent a vehicle with security personnel to take us home. We helped get a few friends home and I can’t even begin to imagine what other students not so privileged had to endure. Bags of rice were being airdropped to hostels to help with feeding. I was generally calm, quietly confident.
I went from being locked down in school to being locked down at home. Not really knowing where the situation was going to go. Seeing a burnt human being at the junction leading to our house, suddenly distrust becoming the order of the day in a once cohesive environment. You would not dare to enter taxis being driven by someone of the opposite religion except if you had no choice. You would not buy stuff from their shops except if you had to and you would certainly not be caught going into parts of the market dominated by them. There was a shift in our world. Things changed. We were fighting enemies we could see. I remained calm, somehow. Truly unafraid!! Just vigilant, trusting God to keep me and mine safe.
I never thought I would experience lockdown again. Especially fighting an unseen enemy. I can’t explain the dread that threatens to overwhelm me daily. Suddenly, nothing seems to matter anymore. Is it because I am now a mum etc that I have to fight to shake off the fear? There is a dread that I feel when I think of the cost of COVID 19. The unseen enemy. My reaction maybe because I had a cough at some point and had to go into self-isolation wondering if I had caught the virus and what would happen? Every day waiting to see what would become of me and mine. I got worse before I got better thankfully – still coughing though. I am fighting fit but scared of looking around. I went t to the shops and was really upset at a lady who WAS NOT following social distancing rules – she kept coming into my space and worst of all, she was wearing hospital looking uniform with a mask that was moved aside. She should know better but never mind. I don’t like news updates anymore. I don’t want to hear horror stories. Seeing people being furloughed at work left me wondering how I escaped that…. . In order to live a sane life, I am on the lookout for coping mechanisms; things I can do to keep fear at bay and to be as productive as possible;
- Faith: The God factor has been helping me to maintain my anchor. How can I say I trust him for the salvation of my soul if I cannot trust him to sustain my mortal body to the fullness of all its days? A constant battle to fight feelings of fear with trust in God.
- Moments of quiet: Many times now, I choose not to listen to any message, songs, or read anything even though I can. The empty space in which I might hear something for myself and try to find my center.
- Rest: I am engaging less with activities and allowing my -quiet moments to be moments of rest. You see I am an expert in being a busy bee. I am up before 6 am, getting the family set for the day, cooking meals, full-time job 9 am – 5 pm. Go swimming once a week, go to the gym once or twice a week, homework, kid’s activities, church, early morning prayers, very late night prayers, etc. Many of these activities have been stripped away from me by the lockdown but I am taking it slow on the late-night prayers online etc to allow myself rest and I feel better for it. After going through symptoms of being ill, I have realized the healing power of rest. I have not cut off everything but most and I am not hard on myself at all.
- Nutrition: Not like I feel like eating that much. I have decided not to fast but just to pray. To eat what little I can and to replenish my body and give it a break.
- Keeping connected: I am fortunate to have a few friends I text when panicking. I have been prayed for, encouraged, and upheld.
- Keeping away from the news: I am the kind of person who goes to daily mail news website constantly updating myself on news, both serious and a bit of rubbish. At the moment, I find the news on TV and the internet really disturbing and keep away save for a number of times a day. No more. It is important to keep informed but trust me too much time in the news will only bring you down and fill you with fear.
- Reaching out: I am lucky enough to have a few friends I can trust with a burden so I have sent a few panicky text messages, been prayed for, talk to, etc. I have gisted with friends and have picked up my phone when I need to.
I hope that from the above we might also find a few things we can do to feel well and to calm ourselves down so we can cope with the Covid-19 lockdown. It is important that we are able to be positive influences in our spheres and not get uncontrollably stressed out as we experience things we cannot do very much about.