By Anneke Roux
South Africa has only been under lockdown for 15 hours and 25 minutes (at time of writing) and I cannot deal. I have been self-isolating for almost a week, but I could still see some people and go out (I followed all the protocols, don’t judge me – one needs alcohol and groceries). I did not “panic-buy” and I did not go to any “before-lockdown-parties”. You can call me a model citizen, nee millennial, but I am deprived. I am deprived from human contact and I do not know if I am going to make it. Do you realise how crap this is?
Now, dear introverts, please stop rolling your eyes and thinking that I am over exaggerating. This is torture. To make you feel even more sorry for me, I need to mention that my love language is physical touch. My flatmate, who is with her family during this time ☹, rubs my back every night just so that I can get a meagre amount of “love” from her. I haven’t touched anyone in days, and I will not for 21 days to come. I cannot even comprehend this. Cue monologues of how no one loves me…
I am a Gemini, so the small introverted part of me has loved moments of self-isolation, but guys, this is not easy. If you’ve read my previous musings you’ll know that I was diagnosed with depression in February 2019. My question: how do I cope with depression (or the dark cloud as I refer to it), being an extrovert and needing physical touch (like a hug, get your mind out of the gutter) during lockdown?
The first thing I realised was lacking was a serious amount of endorphins. I sat on the couch and saw the dark cloud moving closer and I refuse to go back there. So, I went to Mr. Price Sport and bought basic exercise equipment. I downloaded the Nike Training Club app and now I exercise twice a day. Yoga in the morning, HIIT at night. It helps. It really does. Although I am struggling to breathe at the moment because my core is incredibly sore (because of planks, not Corona) and it is quite a mission to use the toilet, but the endorphins are great. I must admit that it’s only my third day of this activity, but I’ve been sticking with it. I need to mention that I am incredibly proud of myself for doing this at all. I’ve never liked exercise, but now I crave it, it might have something to do with frustration, but let’s not go there.
Video calls help. They do. But they don’t come close to having someone with you, in your space. However, we need to make do, so they suffice. I’ve been enjoying a few calls a day from my best friend and group chats as well. Please think about your extroverted friends in this time. We are struggling. We need you to call us. We need you to allow us to just be with another person, and you don’t even have to get out of your PJ’s!
It is easy to give yourself over to the couch, Netflix and all the lockdown snacks you bought (and wine obviously) but that is so bad. Not because you’re going to gain a ton of weight– I couldn’t care less about your weight, we need to stop this narrative– But because it’s the worst thing you can do for your mental health, especially if you struggle with depression.
I know we want to do that some days, just lay in a cocoon and shut out the world, and that is THE BEST when needed, but 21 days is a LONG time. You need more. So my advice is to not stay in pyjamas all day– full disclosure: I am typing this while in pyjamas at four in the afternoon– but get dressed. Stay in routine. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at proper times. Snack only when you’re hungry and decide what time you will allow yourself to enjoy a drink (mine is after 11, but I think I will need to revise that). Hold yourself accountable in this time, so that you can get out of this alive. I am not a fitness or health freak – far from it, see my picture below, I just know that I need to survive.
Lastly, create. I believe every human has the inherent ability to create. To create beauty and to make fellow humans feel. That is what makes poetry, art, music, literature, this article (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) so powerful; the ability to put emotions and feelings that cannot be spoken about, in another form. It creates connection and evokes emotion.
You can create. If you cook, you create a dish from ingredients. Same with baking. If you write, sing, dance, paint, draw, you are creating. In creation we do not only make others feel good, but we process and give an outlet to that which we bottle up inside. Remember when you were a little kid and you drew a picture for your mom or built and amazing “sculpture” from Legos? You showed everyone with the biggest grin on your face because you were proud. That still happens. When we create, we are proud of ourselves and that is vital in this time. Pick something to do: paint, write, sew, draw, bake, plant something! You might struggle initially but forget about a final product and enjoy the process. Enjoy your creation and celebrate your humanity. Also, you might get a lot of likes from people if you post what you did on Instagram #justsaying.
Take care of yourself during lockdown. Self-care includes the hard things like eating the greens and doing the exercise. If you see your friends suddenly posting more on socials than they used to it is because they need connection and interaction, drop them a DM or video call. You might just make their day. And if you have more tips, please share them with the Essential Millennial team and I.
If we all gather together during this time and share our ideas, we might just make it through this unscathed.
This story was written by a guest contributor, Anneke Roux. If you enjoyed reading about her experiences, follow her on Instagram at @rouxanneke. And if you’d like to become a contributor for Essential Millennial, please contact us and we’ll help you share your stories far and wide.