Day 62 of lockdown: An Industrial Psychologist shares her thoughts

Babalwa Desi
Babalwa Desi

Babalwa Desi is a parent, a Registered Industrial Psychologist and Managing Director of Desi Industrial Psychologists in Port Elizabeth. She shares her thoughts on day 61 of South Africa's lockdown. 

Covid-19 has gripped the country and the world quite ominously. Its effects are catastrophic for all affected and infected.

I am at home with my girl brigade: 9,5 and 6 months old. I am fatigued from domestic chores and everyone calling my name endlessly.

The value of my nanny is now prominent in my mind – I miss her terribly, I could cry (!). I am mentally deprived, it is almost impossible to focus at home with little ones around.

Creating concepts is like a distant dream, unless one steals a moment in the middle of the night while everyone sleeps. Effectively that means sacrificing my own sleep, which has its own disadvantages. I am perpetually feeling guilty for my inability to do meaningful, productive work during this time.

This is especially challenging for the entrepreneur that I am.

The equation is linear in this regard: if one does not work one does not earn – simple… But lately I am over the worry about business-in-distress, I can do nothing to change the current situation.

I remain available for my customers who are in essential services. I say a silent prayer every day for all such foot soldiers, including my husband.

The brief during this time has changed.

We prioritize safety and survival for the Collective. We do our bit to help save lives, including ours. Maximizing bottom-line and creating wealth is still important but less critical at this juncture.

On a greater scale I experience panic when I think about how the world has changed in our lifetime. Certainly, these are unprecedented historical times for which we were all unprepared.

Most of all I am petrified for my children.

I try to imagine a kind of world they might live in as adults later in their lives. Are they going to be free to walk in the park, jog around the neighbourhood and hang around the beachfront?

Are they going to experience crazy dancing at live music concerts packed with fun-loving others?

A visit to the theatre? Or shopping at the outdoor market? Have we lost the comforting pleasure of a hug forever? And that collegial greeting handshake?

What will be the idea of enjoying the simple things in life look like tomorrow?

And prospects of good education, health and general safety? Travelling the world and exploring possibilities beyond our borders, is that even a going to be the thing in their time (and ours currently) or not anymore?

Is anything out there for my precious little girls in terms of the future? Will they ever experience life in its simplest form?

Will they access opportunities and wonders that induce anticipation, awe, excitement and accomplishment? Or will they live their lives overcoming challenges of mere existence and survival?

The picture certainly does not look pretty to me at this point. I have been plagued by much anxiety for all these reasons during this time of lockdown. On a much greater scale, I worry about the social justice of everything that occurs during this time.

When I begin to ponder on all others in the world who are less fortunate than I, my heart sinks at the same time as my stomach begins to turn.

Utter despondency, powerlessness and horror are the words that explain the turmoil inside me. My heart bleeds for families who go hungry with absolutely no plan whatsoever.

I fear that I am soon going to join their queue if this situation does not improve anytime soon…

As the country prepares itself for a slow awakening of the economy and return to school for kids, all this brings fresh sources of apprehension.

Mixed messages about what works and what does not work are all over the media and social platforms. To wear or not to wear a mask/gloves. 

This drink or that mixture is a good immune system booster. Can all these precautions guarantee our safety at home, at work and at school?

Is it even conceivable to expect children to comply with all these Covid-19 regulations with their careless, playful nature? When one senses the measured reluctance of the Minister of Education to commit to safety guarantees in schools during these times; elevated levels of panic are certainly induced among parents who are anxiety balls like me.

But because we are creatures of hope, I make a note to self to hope for a better tomorrow.

I recall that I was schooled to be resilient and tenacious through a very tough upbringing. Therefore, I am persuaded by an alternative thought to hang on and stay positive through this daunting time.

Of course, we shall overcome, as we have many times in the past.

We just must be there for one another as human beings. We can still call each other for a chat. I enjoyed that same pleasure recently with a colleague whom I appreciated immensely. W

We must meditate in prayer, each of us call on their Higher Power as we anticipate new possibilities beyond Covid-19.

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