#LockdownDiaries: 4 South African women take us through their emotions during lockdown

  • Many people have taken to journaling during the lockdown as a means of coping with new feelings of uncertainty.
  • From forming new habits, to maintaining the old, to helping the kids adjust - some women have documented it all. 
  • Four local women were brave enough to share a few of their diary entries with W24, and many will find their emotions relatable. 

The global impact of the coronavirus has shaken humanity to the core. Parts of the world are currently in lockdown – an experience that is new to all of us.

To mark this unprecedented time in our history, many people have taken to journaling about their lockdown experiences. Some in handwritten scrawls in notebooks, some in social media posts, some in stream of consciousness style journal entries in word documents.

In years to come, these words will serve as personal reminders of day to day living and consciousness during a time of global isolation and panic.

Here, four women bravely share their diary entries with us from as far back as the first day of the lockdown:  

Joanne Olivier

27 March 2020: Tonight, lockdown at midnight

Tonight at midnight the army will lock down the streets and the shops. I cannot imagine what that will be like. I still feel autonomous like no one can stop me from taking a walk around my own block, but I think of the thousand particles of coronavirus droplets sitting on bus stops and Simba chip packets, and I imagine the lingering cough of the man from next door who also wanted to get out for his own mental health, and I turn around and re-enter my inner sanctum, and read my latest tweets. 

1 April 2020

The sun is shining, and it is always hard to think of tragedy when the sun is shining. Suddenly the reality sinks in and I feel sick to the stomach. An elderly masked man walks out of the shops alone with two bags of goods. An old masked lady drives in alone. I wonder who is going to help them and if they are alone. The only thing I want to do is ask if I can carry their bags, but I know I can’t. I feel invisible. I feel anxious and desperate to get back to the safety of my house so I can pretend in a way that it's a normal day. 

3 April 2020

The stats are now on around 1450 cases and 5 deaths. The panic has subsided into a sort of calm acceptance, proving that the threat and fear is mostly, imaginary. The threat is out there, but like the threat of disease and death, only if we think about it and imagine tragic endings, do we fuel it. 

We have been taking time to slow-cook, bake, and make homemade naan. I am going to try my own hamburger rolls.

READ MORE: Uncertainty and fear amid the pandemic - why now is a good time to reinvent your life

*Nomonde Zulu 

31 March 2020

- Lockdown day 5 

Today is the first day of lockdown where I haven’t felt physically nauseous from generalised anxiety disorder. I don’t know if I’m getting used to the routine, settling into it, or just letting go a bit. Maybe the fact that it’s a workweek for some, has made me feel a little bit more sane. 

Today I cleaned, cooked, and exercised. I completed my photo challenge, did some work edits, and made some payments. I chatted to some friends and family, drank a glass or two of wine. I can do this. I think I can.

The photo challenge today was fab. It was garden-themed, so I hauled out my macro lens for the first time in years, and just spent an hour or two messing around in the garden, appreciating the small details, breathing.  

Pick n Pay arrived with an online order I had placed 10 days ago. All the goods were laid out on our front doorstep. Then we had to spray everything down with sanitiser before unpacking it. Like, we’re living in some sort of weird movie. Sometimes it’s a sci-fi apocalyptic movie, sometimes it's Groundhog Day. This is happening to us – we are the victims, the actors, and the protagonists. The outcome is completely unknown. One way or another, the world is changing.  

9 April 2020

- Lockdown day 14

Famous people around the world are being diagnosed – Tom Hanks and his wife were one of the first and have recovered. And now Prince Charles and Boris Johnson. No one is immune.

On a positive note – the silver lining I look for so much – there are fish swimming in the canals of Venice, you can see the clear sky in industrial China, people in Italy are singing to one another across apartment blocks and gym instructors are coordinating ‘balcony’ classes from the central garden of a huge apartment block.

And on the home front... 

• *Amanda is teaching herself the piano

• *Zolani is doing an online programming course

• We’re all exercising – I’ve started a 21-day virtual pilates programme, Anna did an ab workout, Adam has set up the punching bag and has boxed, skipped and done weights.

READ MORE: Thousands of women have run out of tampons and pads under lockdown    

Dawn Faro 

"Diary of a workaholic" 

- Lockdown Day 8

Yesterday was not a good day for me at all. My PMS levels were through the roof, I woke up still extremely tired from binge-watching You, and I think cabin fever officially set in.  

God obviously knew women would just 'love' emotions and drama, so he spiced things up by adding a dose of PMS. No, getting our period, pregnancy, and childbirth were not enough for us - we needed an extra bit of je ne sais quoi...  you know, just to shake things up even more!

I once cried (as in sobbed) because I couldn’t find the Sunlight liquid. I mean, who cries over freakin' Sunlight liquid?  

Binge-watching – another thing that boggled my mind. I always wondered how people could binge-watch. Where did they find the time to watch a whole season of something in a day? OMG, like, don’t they have laundry to do? 

I barely had time to watch an episode of anything, let alone a season.  But now... now I have time. Time to do everything I never had time to do. Time to cook, time to read, time to write, time to pack out the last of my boxes from the move (yes, I know it’s been more than two months, don’t judge). The only condition is that you have to do it in your home and with your family. 

I never had time to play with the kids. I was always too busy, too tired, or just wanted me-time. So now that we have the time, the only question is whether we are going to spend it wisely. 

Lockdown Day 10 

This post took me two days to write... maybe because it’s a subject that’s very close to my heart and also because it’s still such a taboo subject to talk about, especially in the coloured communities. 

A couple of years ago I was driving home from work. All of a sudden, my heart just started beating out of my chest, I felt faint and was scared that I would pass out. I thought I was busy having a heart attack (ekt mos ‘n swak hart man). I really thought I was dying. I phoned my dad and husband to come get me. I had to stop along the road and couldn’t drive further.  

A couple of weeks later it happened again, but much worse. After the initial diagnosis of a light stroke (and a couple of days in hospital), my doctor finally diagnosed it as anxiety attacks and prescribed me anti-depressants. It’s sad that society still label people who use anti-depressants. No, I’m not crazy, my mind just works differently than yours, okay. 

I'm now starting to feel a bit out of control again – at least when I worked I could put my energy into that. 

This period of lockdown must be extremely difficult for people with underlying mental health issues. Mental issues do not mean you are "bat crazy". It can be anyone - a seemingly normal person, living a normal life. They may be managing with the help of medication or somewhere along the line, they have acquired their own set of coping mechanisms to cope with their depression or anxiety. 

Like my friends always say; "Everybody is a bit broken in some or the other way."  So the least we can do is just to be kind. 

Jamie Peterson 

Day... erm... where we at now, 9? 

We woke up this morning and lay in bed together and wondered what couples without children have been up to. Like, do they go to the toilet in peace? Do they enjoy alone time in the bath? Do they actually get to watch a movie until the end without being nagged about when it's their turn to watch what they want? Are they sleeping in and snuggling for hours... and what it is like NOT standing on Lego and constantly cooking and being asked for snacks?

As much as we giggled while wondering, we are so blessed and truly do enjoy that our days so busy with little gremlins and our corridors are filled with laughter.. we wouldn’t change it! 

So today we flipped some pancakes, I botched the one and dropped it but it was still a save... 10-second rule... or does that not apply with Corona around? 

I still ate it like pancakes were going to go out of fashion. Sean and Lucio flipped some pancakes too and we got to tuck into a warm treat with all the rain. We have made a putting game too. It looks easy, but our wooden floors are far from even. We spent the afternoon putting - I have had the lead on points which hasn’t thrilled Sean lo. This game has seen some happy dances and under the breath swearing too. A lamb curry after snuggling through a movie that Lucio wanted to watch, ended our family evening...

Tomorrow we are making slime... God Bless us all. 

Day 14

So my diary is about to get two weeks longer... two more weeks of stimulating the kiddies, finding new things to be creative and keep this household safe... two more weeks of forgetting what the "outside" looks like and two more weeks of wishing I stocked up on more wine ?? More importantly, two more weeks of trade constraint and stressing about work. 

On that note, today we decided to get into the Easter spirit. I imagine at school Lucio would have made something cute for Easter so we found a project and made little chicks. We all made one with him. Afterwards, they looked like owls... but it's ok. 

The boys played so beautifully today, entertained each other on the trampoline, and had each other giggling. It was nice to sit back and realise that – just maybe – we are getting this parenting, adulting thing right.

*Names have been changed.

Do you have any lockdown diaries to share? Send them to us here.

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