WELL HERE we are, slowly adjusting to the new normal. We also have over three weeks of lockdown and cabin fever behind us, and just over two weeks to go!  And it’s here, right about at the three-quarter mark, where things can be turned around or can get a little hairy.

I am deliberately writing about this now, as we approach the three quarter mark and trying not to hold too tightly to 30 April! Anyway, the point is that for now we have 30 April as the end point of this version of lockdown, and this is where we get to an important stage of the process. This is when one minute we may be feeling “over it” as my teenagers say, then suddenly irritable and restless, before sliding into lethargy. It’s that uncomfortable part of the process, where you know you’ve come a long way and almost there, but not quite sure if you can bear the process much longer. So lets make some sense of this…

The third treatment

As many of you know, the subject of my Doctorate was around anxiety and cancer diagnosis, and over the years since then I have done a fair amount of work in the area of cancer – diagnosis, treatment, also the significant side-effects that go along with that. And one thing that has been a consistent theme (referring to the four treatment model of chemotherapy) is this: the first treatment isn’t so bad as you don’t know what to expect, as it’s all still new and you’re just coming out of the shock of diagnosis and surgery. There’s some anticipation for the second round, and it’s not so great as you know about the side-effects coming, but you’re still getting into the process of treatment and what it entails. The final treatment often finds you in surprisingly good spirits as you know there will be side-effects but it will also be the last time you have to go through them.

This leaves us with the third treatment, or three quarters of the way through. This one is consistently met with the most anticipatory anxiety and dread, and with the worst experience of side-effects from the accumulation of the wear and tear on the psyche and the body. Some people say that as hard as that treatment and it’s side-effects may be, it’s the mental side of things that’s harder – the thoughts of not being able to bear this third round, and wishing it were different. All understandable, of course.

If life was a relay race

So the three quarter mark is potentially a challenging one, even when it’s this close to the finishing of a process. And speaking of finish lines, indulge me for a moment as I present the stage we’re in from another perspective. The third leg in a relay race tends to happen “out there” quite a distance from the start and finish lines where all the action seems to be, so it can be overlooked while “waiting for the grand finish”. It is in fact often the pivotal leg, because it’s the last chance to get some space between you and your competitors before the final stretch. (Unless you’ve been a track athlete, this may be news to you). So it can be discounted as just something to get through, or it can have value, depending on how you use it.

This is where I invite you to acknowledge that this three quarter mark is a bit of an upside down one, so that’s normal. It is also where you get to take stock of where you are and where you’re going soon. A week from now we will likely be preparing for a gradual shift back into the world of work and school, and what this means for us. So hang in through this phase, you’ve made it through three quarter marks before. And this week’s useful things section consists of items explaining where you are and why (and that you’re no alone in this), as well as things I have found to be inspiring and showing a different side to lockdown and social isolation! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did while sourcing each one!

Useful things

Coping Podcast Here’s a podcast on this same subject that I did for the Discovery website. It’s called How to Cope With A Longer Lockdown: Advice from a Clinical Psychologist. Click on this link.

News24 Story Here’s a story published by News24 that quoted me extensively. It’s called We Are in a Catch-22 Situation: Dealing with Depression and Anxiety During Lockdown. Click on this link.

Light Relief Videos Here are some videos that have sprung up-or made a resurgence-in the past week. Inspiring, entertaining, and just plain funny.

Like the man said, you can’t always get what you want. One World: Together At Home was a global broadcast organised by the the World Health Organization (WHO) and Lady Gaga to support frontline healthcare workers and WHO. It apparently raised $127 million. Here’s the Rolling Stones’ performance: https://youtu.be/N7pZgQepXfA.

One good thing about lockdown is that at least the pets are surviving (thriving), as this one tells us: https://youtu.be/i97VF8XeBQ4.

And finally, this is what kids think of time out, which for them is like three weeks of lockdown: https://youtu.be/j6wFcpGF1OA.