The Claustrophobic Side Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Seven and a half years ago I set off on our original expat adventure, with a six month baby in tow, to go and join my husband in Dubai. Four years ago we landed in Qatar with a preschooler and a toddler.

Now, here we are, three children and one country move later, in Qatar.

three boys at villaggio mall doha eating ice cream

In the middle of a global wide pandemic.

Whenever I speak to my mum, family, or friends at home they always ask me what it’s like out here with COVID-19 rearing it’s ugly head. And the truth is I assume it’s similar to over there.

The fear, the worry, the need to stay home and stay safe. The panic of a second wave. Wanting the children to be in school, not knowing whether COVID-19 will send them home again.

Add in the fact we have no idea when we will be home again to see people that we love, visit the house we are buying. We don’t even know if we should stay or if we should go permanently.

Although it is possible to re-enter Qatar now as a resident, the worry of applying for the exceptional entry permit and not receiving it in time, has kept us within the borders. The pull of living here and staying together as a family has stopped us from leaving for good.

So here we are. Living thousands of miles from “home”.

And the days are passing slowly

But the weeks are zooming by.

Surely last week was the day in March they were all sent home from school for the last time.

It was only other day that my husband set up his home office on the landing.

We’ve never not needed to wear face masks to go about our business. Now masks are the new normal, showing EHTERAZ to gain entry anywhere is the new normal.

wearing face masks coronavirus

Here we are zooming towards my eldest’s eighth birthday. A birthday, back in March, I couldn’t even have imagined would have been in lockdown. Yet a birthday that will have less restrictions than my middle child’s birthday back in April.

We are at phase four of restrictions being lifted. We can go out, eat out, exercise.

Yet I am STILL feeling claustrophobic

And I don’t know why.

I am feeling trapped with nowhere to go, stuck in our host country. A place where we absolutely love living, have a fantastic support system and lots of friends.

The groundhog day of every day life. School run, home school, supermarket, naptime, bedtime, pool. The worry should anything happen at home and we’re not able to get there.

It’s left me feeling a little flat.

A little overloaded with the mental load.

Claustrophobic.

Though I keep remembering that we’ve moved on a little. From having to wear masks the second we left our front door to restrictions easing to only having to do so when entering indoor spaces. From children not being allowed to enter anywhere to them being allowed to go back into malls. The pools and gyms being closed to them being open.

There are glimmers of hope amid the doom.

And this might just be a new normal.

One that we’re trying to get used to.

Something I keep reminding myself on the flat days, the groundhog days, the days where I feel trapped.

We will get there in the end. I just need to focus on the positive elements we have, work on my mental health.

And stay strong for the boys.

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