‘I’ve developed anxiety and avoid places that cause fear since lockdown started’

Cher Petersen. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Cher Petersen. (PHOTO: Supplied)

I’ve been afraid of many things throughout my life, but never other people and going outside.

Since the second round of lockdown kicked in, after the initial 21 days, I’ve found myself hesitant to head outside or to even want to engage with people.

So much so that I’ve become someone who orders my groceries online or I get the people I live with to head to the shops for me.

Recently I found myself in need of a prescription, but with me far from my doctor’s office I decided to ask a friend if she had any leftovers of her meds as we usually get prescribed the same medication.

She offered to give me some of hers, and we made arrangements for me to come and fetch it.

One day passed, then two and then a week, and still I didn’t go to get the meds. She lives within walking distance from me, and I found myself making excuses why I couldn’t go meet her at her gate.

I hadn’t yet reached the end of my supply of meds and wasn’t in a rush, but her persistence and irritation with the wait forced me out of my bunker and down the road to pick up the minuscule but necessary package.

I vividly remember keeping my head down the entire way there and crossing the road at least 10 times to stay away from other pedestrians.

It felt like trench warfare dodging Covid-19 grenades shot by looks and running for my life. I’ve never felt so wholly unsafe, and that simply because I went outside.

Not because I feared the risk of being robbed, or being murdered. But because of a virus.

I googled and found that the intense feelings I felt on my small-scale journey could be described as agoraphobia.

I’ve developed agoraphobia because of this pandemic – the fear that causes you to avoid places or situations that might cause panic or helplessness, according to Mayo Clinic.

But there’s comfort in knowing I’m not the only one. Every time I log onto social media, I see a slew of impatience but also trepidation about heading outside and fear of people.

It’s comforting to know I’m not alone, but it’s scary to realise this might be the new normal, not just for me but for all of us.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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