Lost and Found.
Some weeks ago, during one of my suburban walks, I came across this jigsaw piece lying forlornly in the road.
I was going to walk past it, but what it represented made me pick it up and bring it home, sanitize it and it has been lying on my desk while I ponder what it represents and what, if anything, I should write about it.
Given the ever-present uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing issues around both physical and mental wellbeing, it made me wonder where this piece fits into the larger puzzle that we find ourselves in currently and going forward into the foreseeable future.
Let me go back to March 2020 and the first 21 days that we all perceived as an enforced holiday. Schedules were readjusted and our lives rearranged to cope with the first hard lockdown.
Humans are nothing if not resilient and we managed the first 21 days with some sense of humour and “it-will-all-be- over-soon” mindset.
But that was not to be as those 21 days were extended, and extended, and extended. Yes, it dropped from Level 5 to Level 1 but as I write this in June 2021, we have yet to be totally released from the oppression of the rampant pandemic or the control that has now been enforced upon us by our government.
First, it was cigarettes and alcohol that were NOT allowed to be enjoyed. To this day, those in charge have never quite explained the reasons for the cigarette ban. But that aspect of the Level 5 lockdown is a slippery slope that leads down a rabbit hole I do not wish to descend into now.
And partaking in neither of those, I was not affected at all.
Did our physical health suffer? Well of course it did. Either from COVID-19 itself, the side effects, like the food we were eating or just sitting at home and not being able to exercise. The lack of interaction, in person, with other people, became the norm, and although we all learned to conduct a Zoom/Skype call, it not the same.
Humans crave physical connection, and studies have shown that touching can ease mental issues.
Luckily for me, or so I thought, I had 10 days booked in June 2020, in a nearby game reserve where I would be doing research into an article I had been commissioned to do for a local magazine. But I could not have been more wrong if I tried.
First, the magazine was shut down and the article that I was working on was no longer required. This devastating news was followed towards the end of May 2020, by three emails from the three camps I was going to be staying at, canceling my reservations because of the lockdown and the increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
This had been my lighthouse, my beacon of light in the darkness that was keeping me focused and mentally alert. And now that light had been snuffed out and I found myself adrift in a sea of impending anxiety and depression that threatened to engulf me.
Not being one for medication, I turned to what I knew best…interviewing. I no longer had a radio show, but I did have a stable internet connection and 25 years of interviewing skills gleaned at various talk radio stations that I could pivot (remember that word?) into something else. And so “In conversation with was born”… a series of Zoom interviews with people who interested me and I hoped would interest others. And it did. I did 100 interviews in as many days, and it was that series that kept me sane. Now in its 3rd season ICW is still my go-to when I start feeling low.
But how does this relate to a jigsaw piece? Good question. Much like the is the glass half full/half empty conundrum. Does this piece represent the part of me that has been lost during the pandemic, or is it the piece that completes me and allows me to see past what is currently happening and look towards the horizon?
I really am uncertain. I am conflicted and confused. What I do know is that unless we take care of our mental health, we will quickly slip into a Zombie-like state where we are easily controlled on a variety of levels.
We only have to look at the current vaccine roll-out or lack thereof. Without an SMS giving you a date and time, many of the vaccination centers will not allow walk-ins. However, now the Health Department has admitted that the system is still having teething problems, so walk-ins will be ‘tolerated’. I feel that the use of that word is so patronizing and condescending. Their system does not work and they will TOLERATE walk-ins? It is this type of control that makes us all teeter on the brink of depression and uncertainty.
And to compound the issue, it seems that ESKOM is issuing daily warnings about a high probability of load-shedding that then does not occur.
It seems that we live our lives currently waiting for the other shoe to drop.
However, back to my puzzle piece and what it might, or might not represent.
I believe that I need to see that with the addition of this piece, my puzzle is now complete and I can move forward.
Do you have a missing puzzle piece? Is it holding YOU back? What can YOU do to turn that feeling of despair and disconnect around?
Only YOU can answer that…
Until the next time, stay safe and stay healthy.
For those of you who are struggling with mental health issues currently, please reach out to either of these organizations for assistance. You are NOT alone…
South African Depression and Anxiety Group. 011 234 4837
LifeLine Connect number. 011 728 1347
“Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
We are all in “the line” without knowing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line –
Make moments count.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.”