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Lockdown's Mental Toll

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

We are eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, little has changed, and lockdowns are still the go-to method to curbing the spread of the new coronavirus.

And with restricted movement being the order of the day, many people say they are becoming fatigued, with their lives on pause - and it has taken a mental toll.

Earlier, local clinical psychologists Dr Tracey King told Tribune Health that while measures should be met to keep one’s healthy, she encouraged Bahamians not to overlook their mental state which is also being threatened at this time.

“Initial interventions focused only on one’s physical health. However, this has shifted to include mental health,” Dr King said.

“It is important to remember that our physical and mental health is intertwined and ignoring either can lead to detrimental outcomes. This COVID 19 pandemic has negatively impacted people emotionally. Therefore, not addressing one’s mental health could lead to sustained psychological issues and exacerbate preexisting ones,” she told Tribune Health.

Latoya Ferguson said at the start of the pandemic in The Bahamas back in March she managed to keep things together however as time went by, remaining unfazed proved difficult.

“The most difficult thing for me has been keeping myself entertained. I am an outgoing person and since we have been subjected to our homes it has been rough to keep happy and to keep my joy.

“There is only so much Netflix I can watch, there is only so much reading of books I can do. So, I am finding myself at this point which is eight months in feeling stifled,” she said.

Dr King emphasised emotional reactions to stressful situations, like the COVID 19 crisis, will differ from person to person. Some may experience worry, fear, panic, anger, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety. However, underlining most of these emotions is the uncertainty.

There are many unknowns, and Niqua Bowe told The Tribune that has been driving the feelings she has had.

“I made it through the first lockdown okay, but for the second and third time it had me feeling extremely down and sad at times. I am a self-employed stylist and from the start of things I have been out of work or having very inconsistent work. Taking care of myself and family financially was a real challenge that made me super stressed and depressed a times.”

The ray of light came when the restrictions were relaxed in August.

“That made me feel happy in a way because that meant plans I had to expand my business and take on more clients could come to fruition, I could finally have some stable income.”

But her hopes were dashed when the curfews and lockdowns were once again reinstated earlier this month.

“I instantly felt burdened and saddened by it all. And I feel that way a lot of the times. I hated being restricted because it is affecting my business and affecting my livelihood. How can you be mentally okay when the future is not looking bright for you?”

Alexander is a hotel employee, and has been out of work, and said he has been doing all he knows to keep himself in a sound frame of mind.

“I speak to a therapist because I have had to deal with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) before and being out of work has certainly been playing a toll on me,” he said.

“An outlet for me was going to the beach and enjoying the fresh open air, but now it has been a real kill joy since the beaches are closed.”

As for Susan Munroe, she is in high spirits and rolling with the punches of the pandemic.

“There is nothing we can do about being lockdown. According to the professionals this is what is required to curb the spread of the virus. I am trying my best to be content in whatever state I am in. It is not ideal because being able to get out there, socialise and enjoy the thing that make me happy is what made my life fulfilling so now I must find other things to do that.

“I encourage those who struggling and mentally and emotional is try to look at things from a different perspective and find the good in what may be the seemingly bad,” she said.

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