By Siham Jessica Korriche
Day one: Just a week ago I found myself marching through the centre of Madrid. It was the 8th of March and I was surrounded by friends and fellow feminists who had also taken to the streets, ones normally reserved for cars and overwhelmed by tourists. On that 8th of March the public spaces of the Spanish capital turned purple and were filled to the brim with feminist slogans.
In a matter of days the scenario became chaotic. Instead of marching through the streets we avoided them, to stem the advance of the coronavirus. Whilst it’s true that this is not a comfortable situation for most people, imagine what it is like for those of us who suffer from anxiety.
After a few days of voluntary confinement, the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency. Language played a significant role in awakening my anxiety. I’m on alert even when I don’t want to be. My body thinks there’s an emergency at the best of times; pumping adrenaline to make my muscles tense, waiting for the first strike… the strike that never comes. My challenge in this quarantine was to manage my anxiety in a scenario where everything urged me to run away and fight for my life.
After listening to the news, I decided to go out and buy some groceries for the week, but then, upon seeing the empty shelves, the panic attack came. The hysteria was noticeable and the fake news on social media just made people even more anxious. The journey home seemed longer than usual. Knots in my stomach left me completely paralysed. As soon as I got through the door I lay on my bed and closed my eyes, imagining that this was a horrible dream and that by tomorrow it would all be over.
Day two: After a few days of getting used to the idea that I wasn’t going to be able to go out into the street and see my friends, normalising the situation helped me to give a positive twist to the time I was going to spend indoors. I needed to devise a routine. The routine would help me not to be swallowed up by 40-square-metre apartment. Looking for new things to do, besides working from home, I came across a Whatsapp group in my local area made up of volunteers to go and help those in need to do their shopping or look after their children.
Even though the government advises that no one should leave their home, the truth is that not everyone can do this. Lots of jobs simply can’t be done from home, and this conflicts with the order to stay indoors. This neighbourhood initiative was conceived precisely so that we could help each other, as an example of the solidarity that exists in our neighbourhood and which is extremely important in times such as these.
Two of these volunteers receive requests for help, which are then passed on to the nearest volunteer. This is so that each volunteer helps someone close to their home and avoids having to spend too much time outside. This initiative has been a huge success and has awoken a sense of community, which is key to overcoming this crisis. This solidarity can also be seen when my neighbours and I go to our windows or balconies every evening at 8 o’clock to applaud the health workers who continue to treat patients, sometimes without sleeping. We applaud the supermarket workers who stock the shelves each day so that we can continue to buy our groceries. We applaud the domestic and care workers who leave their homes in order to look after others. For all of these people we take a few minutes to clap our hands, whilst exchanging glances of support and pride for the people who help and save others.
Day three: The first week is now over. After the hysteria of taking my temperature every day, each one longer than the last, I make an effort to remember what the main street in my neighbourhood was like without the police cars.
Today I decided to have a quiet day. In the end I was getting stressed from the endless list of things I had promised myself I would do. Sitting on the sofa after a yoga session, I started to reflect on how privileged I am. Not that I have money in the bank, far from it, but because I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge, which is what really matters right now. To be able to romanticise about staying indoors is something that not everyone can do.
The country is paralysed and you can see it on the streets, in the parks and on public transport. Today I decided to paralyse myself. This period is also a lesson. Not just about helping others but also about helping myself.
Since I’ve had the house tidy and been cooking every day, I feel that I’m connecting with myself. After so long thinking about others, I had almost forgotten to take care of myself.
Life in lockdown. Womankind approached its community to write about life in lockdown around the globe, notably a three-day diary of everyday life under the threat of COVID-19. Womankind is publishing these stories freely to show how the pandemic is affecting women from all over the globe - from New York, to Barcelona to Glastonbury.
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