Tendai’s* Covid-19, Experience on the Front Lines

A COVID-19 SUCCESS STORY

“Being confined brought a lonely feeling inside me, that when I let it all out to someone who was ready to listen;

I felt a sense of relief. “

Tendai*, Friendship Bench Client

My name is Tendai*. I’m a middle-aged female residing in the city of Harare, Zimbabwe. I work in the health field at a private facility.

I was going through a period where I was overwhelmed with anxiety and paranoia. As a result of working in the medical/health field, I had been openly and directly exposed to the COVID – 19 virus at its onset in Zimbabwe. A few of my colleagues and I had to stop working and go into quarantine and isolation in our own homes after going through the screening process. I was forced to stay away from my family and my children for two weeks as I could not leave my room. It broke my heart to have to hear my youngest daughter cry for me at the door and not be able to do anything about it. Every single day, health professionals from the ministry would come and check on me, dressed and protected. I felt like the contagion itself. My temperature was said to be high by the screening officials which increased my anxiety. I had no meaningful interaction with anyone at all so I was forced to make do with my racing thoughts for two weeks.

After having been cleared of the virus by the Ministry of Health, I was then allowed to exit self-quarantine. You would think the decision made my days easier but after the restrictions on me were lifted, I was so confused and anxious. Everything to me felt like it could be potentially dangerous, being around people made me anxious, letting my children play outside made me anxious. Seeing one of my family members constantly going out the house would really make me upset. I was paranoid about everything my children and family touched. My obsession with sterility became unhealthy, and fortunately that’s when I came across the friendship bench advertisement. I reached out to The Friendship Bench after seeing a social media advertisement of their free counselling service offered on an Open Like Talk Therapy platform.

I began my sessions shortly after booking on the Friendship Bench platform. In my sessions, i was allowed the platform to fully explain my feelings and what I was going through without judgement.

Firstly, what I found to be most helpful was just being able to let some things out before you even get help in handling the problem. Being confined brought a lonely feeling inside me, that when I let it all out to someone who was ready to listen; I felt a sense of relief. The constant check up as well really helped me as I realized someone was there to make sure I was improving and feeling better.

My fears of contracting the virus were gradually eradicated as I got encouragement to do my best in making sure I follow the measures put in place to protect my family and I regardless of the fact that one family member was not adhering to those measures. The guidance and encouragement I got about focusing on things that I can control was also extremely helpful in reducing my anxiety. I then realised some things are out of my control and I cannot change them. Worrying about it would not help at all as it would just bring me more problems.

*Names have been changed to protect and respect the privacy of the contributing author.


DO YOU NEED TO TALK?

Should you or someone you know relate to Tendai’s story and need to talk, the Friendship Bench Open Line team is here to support you.


FREE TOOLS TO MANAGE ANXIETY

We set up some worksheets to help people who may be struggling to manage with their anxiety during this global pandemic.

If you would like to learn how to build resilience, become more grounded and find some peace in the storm you can download the exercises for free from our website.

Tools To Thrive
https://www.friendshipbenchzimbabwe.org/tools-to-thrive

Till next time!

Stay safe, wash hands, create safe spaces for people to talk. We all need a sense of belonging, it doesn’t cost anything by empathy and time.

Author: Friendship Bench Zimbabwe

The Friendship Bench provides sustainable community based psychological interventions that are evidence based, accessible and scalable. OUR MISSION: Creating Safe Spaces and a Sense of Belonging in Communities to Enhance Quality of Life ​OUR VISION: A Friendship Bench Within Walking Distance For All OUR VALUES: Empathy & Connection; Anchored in Research