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Connected IV

Rodrigo 27, Santa Fe, Argentina

I share my days with my mother and brother, which is not that bad at all. We really enjoy looking for stuff to do together, even if it’s something as simple as watching a movie, but I think this is healthy only because each of us also gets to spend many hours by ourselves. On the other hand, the three of us work at a pharmacy, so we also have to deal with the insanity of some people, who go crazily paranoid and want to buy all our hand sanitizer stock.

I've been having a great time so far. I needed some time alone and I think this situation could be a turning point towards reasonable changes in different aspects of our lives, but the fact that plenty of people don't even have a home or access to basic supplies is the most terrifying thing about it all. The easiness of not empathizing with anybody who's not in such a privileged position as ours while this lockdown is on is something that could ruin us all.

Every night I talk with my friends and we share some time "together" in our solitudes - I wait all day for that moment of the evening when some of us texts our WhatsApp group saying "somebody online?". By communicating with them, I feel no social distancing at all. I also enjoy my time gardening or playing guitar, playing a game or reading some book. But what interests me the most is wondering what the hell will happen to the world as we knew it.

Sammy 30, Blomberg, Germany

I live with my family: my husband and our two kids in a small rural area in Germany. The thing I worry most about are my parents and their wellbeing. I don't live close to them to help out which frustrates me.

I feel such a deep and humbling gratitude for my family, especially my husband, and the support I receive from them (I still need to do home office and it's challenging while also taking care of children and the house). Also for the financial security we have that so many don't have, which really pains me. We live in the countryside with a big garden. The beauty here is something I enjoy now more than ever. It's those simple things that give me so much joy and appreciation right now.

Alice 36, London, United Kingdom

I always have fears. I live my life in a constant state of anxiety. My mum always says I was a worried child, I have taken that trait to adulthood and somehow allowed it to thrive. Although I wish I hadn't. My husband says I am so anxious I have somehow given him panic attacks too. I have an internal monologue which I often find difficult to switch off. I think it's why I am a writer, it allows me to channel it, somehow tune it into something beautiful, or moving, or thought-provoking, or dark, even. I spend my days constructing and reworking sentences; then moving those sentences around to make a story compelling. I am worried about what I will be like on the other side, though. I've always had OCD. I used to have a place for every single item in my childhood bedroom and would know instantly if my little sister had moved anything around to test me. I check the door is locked ten times before I leave the house and still think I left it wide open. I hate the thought of germs, of touching things that other people have. Now suddenly my fears have more validity. I am allowed to be fearful of what others are spreading. I have been washing my hands every day until they bleed and wiping all my shopping when it arrives. Going into a shop to buy anything fills me with dread and I can feel the panic rising in my throat. The supermarket aisles feel oppressive in a way they never have before. I am observing all the rules, while others don't – I hate it when people get too close. I am walking a fine line between what is real and what is paranoia...I used to twirl my nose ring all the time, nibble at my nails or rub my cheek with my hand as a soothing gesture, now I can't do that anymore as I have read numerous times how that's how the virus can spread. That soothing gesture is now a danger. I don't want to feel like this. I hope the me on the other side doesn't always feel this way. I am scared of leaving the house and I don't want to be, not forever. I don't want this pandemic to have a lasting effect on my mental health. I am afraid that everyone I love will die. I am scared of the unknown, although I wish I could embrace it.

I find solace in books, stories that allow me to escape. Art brings me joy. I have a newfound love for the artwork in my home, my walls are filled with it – each piece is also a reminder of when I bought it or who gave it to me. I like to study the brush strokes in detail, I try and notice something inside a picture that I never have before. Long baths filled with bubbles, candlelight and a cup of peppermint tea is like a balm. I am trying to enjoy the simple pleasures. A glass of wine in the garden, when the light is golden. That feeling of reading a book you never want to end. My bed, I love sleeping, the duvet wrapped tightly around me. Knowing I don't need to set an alarm because I can make my own hours right now.I find that being immersed in water is soothing, maybe it's because my star sign is cancer, I am a water baby. The other day, I flicked through a photo album that my mum made for me, she gave it to me the day before I got married and named it 'A Slice Of Life' – it had photos from my birth to that very day. I loved taking myself on a trip down memory lane and remembering who I was, compared to who I have become. I have also found joy in new connections.

I don't always enjoy having my photo taken but I got in touch with you as I wanted a reminder of this moment. I put on my most favourite top with puffed sleeves and escaped into your world for a while. Let you tell me what to do, how to move, where to stand, and it made me forget about everything else. That tight feeling in my chest disappeared for the half an hour I was being photographed, so thank you.

(Alice kindly interviewed me for Restless Magazine, find the piece here)

Devin 34, Chattanooga, Tennesse

I'm currently staying with friends in Florida although I actually live in Tennesse. So my biggest worry right now is that my parents would get ill while I'm away.

However I am thankful to be healthy, have work and a community that I'm able to connect with.

Norma 39, Johannesburg, South Africa

I am alone, my family lives in a different city and I live in Johannesburg. Joburg is currently Africa's Covid 19 epicentre so even before lockdown we were advised by the government to not travel to other provinces more so the rural areas which is common around the Easter Holiday. Our massive churches, mosques, synagogues are empty. I am in the creative industry so fears are mounting, we rely heavily on government funding, as is certain departments have to channel their funds to critical departments like health and human settlement. Fear number two is the issue of slum dwellers who are not able to social distance, self quarantine with no sufficient water or healthy diet. Street vendors and public transport are also hit hard economically, the government hasn't a cushioning plan for them as yet. Starvation is on the horizon, add to that a compromised immune system. If a slum dweller catches the virus we will see a multiplied number of infections and possibly deaths. I fear for my friends and family with mental disorders like depression and dementia. Fear for women and children in domestic violence house holds, during this 21 day Lockdown Civil society is concerned that we could see a rise in femicide and domestic violence and child abuse. My fears are financial and Social. Uncertainty reigns supreme. I find joy but as a form of escape from this unprecedented reality: I read, write, desktop research and I watch the news like an addict though I sometimes wish news anchoring could go on lockdown as well, it aggravates anxiety that you sometimes could do without.

Aga 33, Paris, France

I live with my dear friend and life partner, Arsenic, the cat.

Staying inside made me visit some dark parts of my soul, but these fears are not new. I’m afraid that some beautiful cultural and art businesses will not survive the economic recession and that most fragile people will suffer more than they are already.

The things that bring me joy right now are touching my lucky rocks, smelling things, cooking, snuggling with my cat, spying on my neighbours, dancing and talking to my friends.

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