Emma Loades Personal COVID-19 Experience

by Emma Loades
Occupational Therapist – Sunnyside

The last 10 days have been a roller-coaster ride of emotions for people around the world. From the initial threat of Covid-19 landing in South Africa , to the final decision of a lockdown made by our President, have left South Africans overwhelmed with many conflicting emotions.  The changes have happened suddenly, with very little time to process them all, creating further tension and anxiety in many lives.

The Friday morning, before the President’s address to the nation, my fiancé and I had to cancel our honeymoon. By 4 pm that afternoon, we had very little choice but to postpone our wedding as well… which was only 2 weeks away. After planning this wedding for more than a year, mostly through a long distance relationship, this was a huge disappointment for us. It felt so unfair.

Corona, and the resulting lockdown, has left many people disappointed. Whether it is because of a cancelled holiday, an isolated birthday or not being able to have your weekly Sunday lunch with your grandparents, all of us have a story to tell. If you start speaking to people, you will hear of the disappointing stories but you will also hear how people coped during that time… how to make the most of a big disappointment. My fiancé and I did the following… some points may help you too:

  • Allow yourself to feel the negative emotions. Its ok to be sad, to be angry, to be frustrated… acknowledge and feel the emotions so that you can process them and start moving forward. You are allowed to be disappointed. For that Friday I allowed myself to somewhat “grieve” my wedding, to let go of the things that could not be, to let go of the things that were out of my control… all the while reminding myself that tomorrow would be a better new day. And it was.
  • Focus on the certainty rather than the uncertainty. We don’t have a new wedding date and focusing on that fact will likely create further unease in our lives. But we do know that we will have a wedding where all our loved ones will be able to celebrate with us. What are the certain things in your life?
  • Check in on yourself. My fiancé and I call them “pulse checks”. With situations and plans changing so rapidly, we often move on quickly to the next change or the next dilemma, we become auto pilots in times of crisis. But challenge yourself to do a quick pulse check, how are you really feeling? How is your partner/parent/child feeling during this time? Sit for 30 minutes and chat.
  • Lastly, remind yourself that you are not alone… the whole of South Africa is in this lockdown together. Chat to people about your experience, they may not be going through exactly what you are going through… but you will probably find they are experiencing similar emotions and thoughts.