Story by Sola
Are you going to visit your sister and her friends this weekend? My mum asked. She knows how long I’ve wanted to change environment in the past 3 months, but I kept shifting my travel date, cause I didn’t want to leave just her and dad at home, especially during the pandemic. Mum has been very supportive, and observant towards my mood changes over the years.
It’s been a long two years for me being in and out of meds, for most time it is a combination of consulting my therapist and self therapist having “We thugging it out” as my coping mechanism, listening to heavy metal, sleeping and engaging in “small talks” have gone a long way in helping me stay sane.
Depression has been a mind killer to me over the years, robbing me of joy, self-confidence, taking away my friends from me, my boyfriend couldn’t keep up with my mood changes, which is understandable, and it sunk me to a point where rock bottom felt like a comfort zone for me. The most painful part of going through the phase is the fact that I am responsible for any wrong action or decision taken, so even when I felt better, I had to live with damages I had caused to myself and my friends when I was in a bad state mentally.
I finally decided to change environment for few weeks since my cousin was coming to stay with my parents, so they had someone to run errands for them, I got my bag packed and got a flash drive that I planned on using to collect movies from my sister and her friends, the night before travelling I developed body pains but I thought it was just my usual long nights of tiredness and sadness, I wasn’t on my anti-depressant cause I felt it wasn’t effective so I chose to sleep off the pain, next morning I woke up with a fever, so I decided to use meds , “Girl is dusted?” I jokingly told my friend and we both joked about the possibility of me being infected with Covid-19, mum is a doctor so she advised me to get better before travelling. The fever stayed for 2 more days then it left, I thought I was fine but then I started to have a runny nose and cough, and my “paranoid” mum made me to start using nose mask around the house, it was when I lost my ability to smell and taste that was when we realized that there was a big problem.
I contacted NCDC while isolating in my room, and they swiftly came to run a test on me which was lowkey surprising for a country like Nigeria. The test was unusually fast, and thrilling, I thought it was fascinating looking at health workers with full body PPE walk into my house like we were in sci-fi movie show like Stranger things, Fringe and X-File. I was told to wait for 72 hours for my test result.
While I waited for my test result in isolation, I spent most of the time watching movies, and listening to music, I was basically sleeping and waking up to press my phone while confined in my room, it wasn’t hard being in my room all day without chores and without anyone’s disturbance, after all that was the definition of good life to me; having a good reason to withdraw myself from human interactions.
I began to feel the weight of it when my my mum told my cousin not to visit again, she had to lie that we were all going for a church retreat, I bet my cousin was confused cause churches were closed, mum was anything but a good liar *chuckles*, she did it cause she didn’t want my cousin to get exposed to a possible infected person or maybe because of the stigma that came from it, it made me feel like an outcast like someone with leprosy in bible times, I started getting tired of being alone in my room, 72 hours since I did my test and I finally got the report that it’s positive, my house was decontaminated by the health workers, it felt like I was in solitary confinement, had to talk to my parents through the door.
Being in isolation was counterproductive to my health cause it sank me into severe depression due to the fact that I was all alone in a room for days, while it protected my aged parents from being infected. My room was smelling like a hospital, being stuffy with hand sanitizer, felt like house arrest. I was having dry cough and I developed chest pain which was dangerous so I decided to go to Onikan Isolation facility via an ambulance.
Got to the isolation facility and it actually exceeded my expectation, met with some random Indian ladies who work in Dangote refinery, they kept playing Punjabi songs, I was forced to like it, the first night was so confusing to me, I struggled with the 10 tablets that were prescribed, the food was delicious and the environment was well aerated with fully function AC, I laid down and I was thinking of how messed up my life is, over the years I have never been fortunate, even when the first case of covid entered into Lagos with a population of over 18M I knew I was going to get infected early it’s like “bad luck” finds its way towards me and I was part of the first 100 that were infected, I cried that night cause I was having a “Why always me?“ feeling but not in a positive way.
Staying in the facility was frustrating, felt like I was locked up in a covid version of Shaw Shank prison, I understood it was for my own best, I woke up several nights to shower hoping it was going to reduce my temperature and muscle weakness, wild thing about the place was I saw a man in his late 70s exercising while a man in his late 30s was using a walking aid due to the virus messing with his joints.
I was determined not to allow my current restriction affect my mental state so I decided to interact more with other patients, I provided assistance to the elderly patients, I set up the DStv in my ward, I had my therapy sessions and used my anti-depressant drugs along with the medications given at the center, I couldn’t exercise as much as I needed cause I was having muscle fatique, so I tried to get enough sleep, I also kept my mind occupied by learning a new skill which is writing, and using my motto “We thugging it out” I remained strong for myself (I don’t know if that makes sense , but it did to me which is fine).