Now that 3 years have passed since the start of the first confinement by COVID-19 in Spain, we all look back and remember how we live it. There were people for whom it was almost a break from the stress generated by the capitalist system. Others, however, remember it as a nightmare.
some people passed it aloneothers accompaniedbut in very confined spaces. Those who had a terrace were able to get some air. Those who did not have one had no choice but to resort to the little sun that entered through the windows. The toilets, on some occasions, chose to live apart from their families, to avoid contagion, or they spent the first months obsessed with the disinfection.
There was exercise at home, new hobbies, all kinds of online activities and kilos and kilos of yeast and flour. To commemorate this anniversary, in hypertextual We have spoken with eight people, who tell us what that exceptional situation was like with its corresponding circumstances. There was everything; but overall, It was not easy.
The role of toilets during confinement
Pedro (fictitious name) is clinical laboratory analyst and his wife is nurse. Both sanitary, therefore. They spent the confinement with their children, who were then two and seven years old. She, logically, continued to work at full capacity, while he alternated face-to-face work with teleworking. “The company facilitated teleworking, distributed laptops, set up VPN…”
He tells us that in his family they are very homemade, so initially his mental health was not affected by the confinement. Besides, his wife helped a lot to keep them from decaying. However, she does remember him more like a logistical problem. “Everything related to shopping, washing hands, working and at the same time helping your son with his online school classes and his homework…”, he recalls. “As time went by, I became more anxious and slept worse.” In addition, his son began to have nightmares during confinement.
He also resented not being able to do much physical exercise, although an attempt was made to adapt to the circumstances. Also, having a large terrace helped a lot.
When we ask him to tell us what was the best and worst of confinement for him, with the best he is clear. “He spirit of solidarity that arose at the beginning on social networks, sharing books, concerts or video games so that the population would stay at home”, he recalls. “There would also be international scientific collaboration sharing progress and results. I never thought I would be able to witness something like this live”.
As for the worst, “on a social level, over time the selfish side of people also emerged, fear wins the game and each one looks after his own.” In addition, on a personal level and already extended in time, “lose contact with family”. Above all, since he and his wife were his health workers, they were constantly afraid of infecting someone. But they also feared depriving their parents of precious time with their grandchildren. That dilemma was hard. As was also the difficulty in finding someone to care for their children.
“I remember at first having problems finding a person to take care of the children, because we were health workers and people were afraid. The usual person told us sincerely. Then three more people refused when they found out that we were health workers.”
Pedro (not his real name), health worker
On the other hand, they still shake the confinement off with his little son. “He has spent a lot of his childhood at home between lockdowns and quarantines,” she explains. “It costs us horrors that he leaves the house for everything that is not going to school.”
Other essential workers
juanjo is IT in a passenger transport company, so he counted as an essential worker. He spent the confinement with his wife and two childrenone of them a few months old, as he was born in December 2019.
Precisely by being an essential worker and being able to leave home, he says that he did not notice the effects of confinement so much. However, his wife, who was also on maternity leave, and his eldest son did suffer more. He remembers as something positive of all that the reduction of the vehicle traffic. “There were no retentions and contamination was greatly reduced.” But, logically, there was also a bad part in the confinement. “The worst, the overwhelm of not being able to go out during the days that he did not work”.
State security forces during confinement
Jesus is Civil Guard. He spent the confinement alone, since his family lives in another province. But he did not stop working at any time, like the rest of his colleagues. “I went out on patrol every dayeven twice in the same day. This, despite the risk that he posed, helped him to stay active and not notice the effects of the confinement that they noticed in other sectors of the population. However, he does remember the “abandonment” by his command as something negative. “They abandoned us to our fate in the first phase while they sent instructions by email”.
But, despite the horror, it has marked a memory that evokes fondly. “I have a special affection for three people who played the Lara’s theme of Doctor Zhivago with violins on a terrace above the supermarket. I was stunned, with the shopping bags and my eyes closed.
Families in very small spaces
frames (not her real name) was 29 years old when the lockdown began. She had been a little over a year registered as self-employeddoing architecture projects with a partner, but he had to resign, because the projects were paralyzed. In addition, he was doing psychology internships, but they were approved once the state of alarm was declared. Therefore, he stayed at home, with no reason to go out. In his case, he spent the confinement with his parents. “Three people in a 60 square meter flat”.
All those changes in his life affected him so much that he fell into a depression from which he had almost recovered. “Since then I have been taking intermittently antidepressants”.
He is unable to remember anything good about those days, but he does remember bad things. The first, the impossibility of move to his village where at least they would have had more space. The second is that, that same summer, her mother suffered a heart attack and stroke and her life changed a lot.
His is one of the many examples in which health problems, mental and physical, hit people who were complying with the confinement hard. Some diseases made an appearance while we were trying to run away from another
The role of the informer
Journalists were essential during confinement. Although they teleworked, their workload increased a lot and reconciling that with family life became very chaotic. It is the case of Gem.
Both she and her husband are journalists. and they spent the confinement teleworking with their two childrenwhile these telestudied. “We got along relatively well, yes, with a non-stop pace of life,” she recalls. “It consisted of getting up around 6 in the morning to be able to work before the children got up. Then help them with their homework, give them a laptop so they could connect with school, cook, continue working, continue helping them, eat, work…”.
In addition, “an hour and a half before the applause we put on sports routines in Youtubeor we played Just Dance to move.” Finally, “dinner, a while of family videogames and at 11pm you go to bed”.
On the other hand, she remembers that the worst moment was Go shopping. “I did it for two, for us and for my parents, who live near our house,” she says. “Going out and seeing the sad people in the market, in the supermarket, on the street… It left me feeling dragged.”
In short, they were such hectic days that he remembers as an anecdote the first day they were able to go out for a walk with the children. “I told my husband with a face of solidarity that he should leave, but all I wanted was to stay a while alone and quietly at home”.
Now, like many informers and, in general, office workers, she believes that there is something good that can be taken from confinement. And it is that she demonstrated the teleworking effectiveness. For this reason, in many professions they have left, if not the whole week, several days of work from home, which greatly help families to reconcile.
Teachers learning to teleteach during confinement.
Sergio (fictitious name) is teacher of upper grade students in an institute of Badajoz. “I had been in my place and in the center for 6 months when it all started,” she recalls.
“I passed the confinement only, because I am single. I had just changed my flat and luckily I had a 12 m² balcony”. He points out that this was crucial to get along better. “My brothers were with their families, each one in different cities, and my parents were confined to a small town in Cáceres in a cooperative residence, because my mother is in good health, but my father had Parkinson’s and needed specialized care.”
In short, it was a complicated personal situation, seasoned with the novelty to which all the teachers were exposed. “The job went online overnight, without resources, or infrastructure planned to serve our students”, he evokes. “We also did not know if they had the capacity or infrastructure to connect with us. That was my biggest concern, that they would lose their referents”.
For this reason, finally his days were much longer than face-to-face. “I worked more than 10 hours a day, including weekends, although I was available for my students The 24 hours of the day”, says the teacher. “He was so concerned about the situation of each one of them that he constantly contacted and scheduled consultation sessions. group and individual video conferencing daily”.
He also says that he never sent homework. “I did all the work trying to make them feel that I was there, and that they were not going to lose their right to continue training.”
On the other hand, their case was one of those in which they were able to leave, as an exception, in the worst of situations. After a month of confinement my father passed away, being all separated ”, he recounts. “They gave us permission to go to a funeral home, to a town at a coherent distance to be able to cremate it. I had to ask for permits to be able to drive and go. Only my mother, brother, sister and I were allowed to travel, and we met there for the first time to cremate my father. We were alone in the crematorium. They let us stay for 3 hours for the whole process, and they forced us to return, each one to their city, after that time. I didn’t say goodbye to my father.”
It was a very tough situation, which made him invest even more in their students. She also took the opportunity to exercise at home and with the help of a personal trainer.
Needless to say, what was the worst of the confinement for him. As for the possibility of bringing something good out, he explains that he believes “that the pandemic brought out the best in good people and the worst in bad or insecure people.” “It helped me to discover the strength that I believe I have, and to reaffirm my values and my vision of life.”
Besides, all this helped him reinforce the idea that he had chosen a good profession. In fact, his teaching vocation is such that he says that he was called daily by people he knew and not so much, to explain biomedical terms and concepts, about vaccines, effects or prevention. “It seemed that he had a medical consultation. I hung a blackboard from the lamp in my living room, to continue teaching with my students. After 2 months everything fell from the ceiling, so I put up a tower of books to support the blackboard on a table”.
Anxiety problems that got much worse
Paula He is one of those people whose mental health suffered significantly during confinement. she worked as administrative, but stopped doing it with the break. And his whole life changed rapidly. “From overnight everything changed and I found myself confused and overwhelmed”, she explains. “I went to bed at 7 AM and got up at 4 PM, took benzodiazepines to sleep, ate once a day, and spent hours watching TV or talking on the phone.”
Like so many other people, the information that came in non-stop made her even more nervous. “I was very overwhelmed by watching the news and I stopped seeing them, in addition to the news then special COVID and look, that drove me crazy ”, he recalls. “Those days of 900 daily deaths led me to a parallel reality to overcome that horror.”
Given his situation, he had to seek psychological help. “Yes, I required weekly psychological help, even my psychologist offered to make me a report so that I could leave,” she specified. “The Royal Decree included exceptions and I fit in them, but I rejected it because it didn’t seem fair to me, since there were people much worse than me without that possibility. In part I regret it, but without my psychologist I in confinement would have ended very badly ”.
As for his diet and his physical shape, the first did not suffer, but the second did, since he used to go to the gym three hours a day before the confinement.
For her, the worst was stop seeing your loved ones overnightto. “Not being able to talk to my friends face to face over a beer. My mother was also 150 km away and I didn’t know if she needed anything and when I found out that she had a fever I was very upset”.
In spite of everything, he gets something good out of all this, and that is that he met the person who is your partner today. They were going to see each other just when the confinement began, so they had to talk on social networks all that time, before meeting more in person.
“During the confinement he was so pichi and I, well, fatal, but we talked often. He suggested that I go when the borders opened, I said yes, he was going to go to his house for a weekend, which turned into 5 days, and well, we’ve been in a relationship for almost 3 years. He became my partner in August 2020, so it can be said that the confinement for one reason or another benefited us, since the second closure, and in fear of not seeing each other for months, we lived together all that time.
Taking care of the family in confinement, a complicated issue
Lorraine the confinement passed alone at homebut very aware of his father, recently operated on a tumor. She had thought about going to live with his partner, but they preferred to postpone it. “Since my father had just had surgery for a tumor, I was going to have to take him to chemo and my mother-in-law showed signs of COVID, so we decided to spend each one in our house because we thought it would be a few days.”
Now, with the distance, she thinks that it could have been a mistake, because going through it alone was very hard on a mental level. “Am economist and work in human resources in an NGOwe were able to telework from the day the cabbages closed and I didn’t go out or buy because I didn’t want to catch it and risk spreading it to my father who recently had surgery and started chemotherapy”.
The situation, therefore, was tough on many levels. “I am a person who really enjoys silence, reading, puzzles, etc. But not being able to physically see anyone or give a hug was very hard for me, ”she recalls. “To that you add that I suffer from headaches and not being able to do physical exercise took its toll on me because these increased in intensity”. In addition, he had a heavy workload, “because due to the pandemic we had to expand services and devices.”
He did not seek psychological help, since he had already requested it before and had the necessary tools to pass the drink. Even so, she remembers everything as something very hard. The only positive thing, apart from the silence, is the same as Gema comments. That he telecommuting it became a reality. He also fondly remembers conversations with his grandparents.
The truth is that in those days, when we were forced to separate from our relatives, we were aware of how much we loved them. Some people, through video calls, they had more contact with their loved ones than even in person. And this may have made us change our behavior as we gradually returned to that new normality.
This may be an attempt to make something good out of all that, but it’s still complicated. Because the pandemic didn’t make us better. The pandemic, in its beginnings, struck down the mental and physical health of a lot of people. And the confinement was necessary, but it only made the situation worse. Many still shake the consequences. Let’s try to keep the good ones and learn from the bad ones. Although, hopefully, there will be a lot left for us to have to demonstrate what we have learned.