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COVID-19 Encounters: ‘My husband’s anxiety makes him fight me a lot now’

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Charity is a 21-year-old mother, who resides on Airport Road, Abuja. She combines domestic help and other menial jobs to earn a living and support her family.

Like every resident of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, she has continued to remain indoors in observance of the 14 days stay at home order by Federal Government.

She is no longer comfortable with this. She said her family has found it very difficult surviving the first week of the 14-day stay at home order. She is afraid that she and her husband may not be able to take care of the family if the order continues beyond this week.

“We cannot endure staying at home without food or money to buy it,” she admits.

She believes that the lockdown is causing a lot of harm to her home, as her husband, who is a security man, is becoming more and more aggressive, leading to a lot of fight between them.

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“He gets easily irritated over little things,” Charity confesses.

She says, “before the lockdown, he didn’t need to stay at home for such a long time, but now that he is forced to do so, he is always troubling me.”

Sitting by a major road and hoping to get few customers who will like to plait their hair, she says, “I cannot continue to stay at home because I have to look for food for my baby and my family. All these house cleaning work that I do me where I get small money is not enough. Now my son’s pap has finished that is why I want go and do some work to get money.”

The lady adds, “my husband too is not happy that we are all staying back home, so, he is always quarreling with me. Now, every small thing makes him angry and so keeps complaining. I’m even tired of it myself and this is all because of the fear that coronavirus is everywhere.”

Charity is not the only one in this terrible situation. A cooking gas retailer, who chose to remain anonymous, reveals painfully to The Guardian: “I’m terribly broke. I don’t know how I’m going to survive.”

Sitting quietly on a seemingly deserted residential area in the capital city and waiting for prospective customers whom he believes will come to buy cooking gas, he says, “ the lockdown has to end fast.”

An emotional health specialist, Dr. Ada Ikeoko, in a chat with The Guardian, notes, “one of the greatest impacts of the COVID-19 even on those that did not contract it, is emotional anxiety and irritability of the fear that one can contract the virus quite easily.”

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Ikeoko says because of the nature of the spread of the coronavirus type two, many people are living in fear, they now have to practice social distancing, which has been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), as one of the best ways of containing the spread of the virus.

“It is not easy for people to stay in the same space for too long and even children who find comfort in going to school now have to stay back home and could lead to emotional anxiety and in some extreme case of chaotic family life, abuse of the child by parents that are stressed from anxiety due to fears is manifested,” she explains.

According to her, “a lot of people expressed anxiety when the index or first case was reported of the Italian man, who came into Nigeria and tested positive, since then, there has been increasing anxiety, fear, panic, hysteria paranoia and this social distancing has caused increased irritability, more arguments, misunderstanding between family members among others and there are significant psychological problems associated with COVID-19 as a result of this such as stress, depression and post traumatic stress.”

She reveals it is important for people to acknowledge what is happening and that they need to understand the problem is not their spouses or themselves but the fear of contracting the virus called catastrophysing, which raises the anxiety level.

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