Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
There is a community of singles who suffer from Claustrophobia. Just so that you know, Claustrophobia is a form of anxiety disorder, in which an irrational fear of having no escape or being closed-in can lead to a panic attack, perhaps even something worse.
A person who suffers from this disorder is known as a Claustrophobic. Depending on the severity of his (or her) condition, a Claustrophobic may live a very normal life and go undetected even by his (or her) own parents, or may be a person who constantly needs assurance that the world is not a prison.
Yes, the latter is an extreme where everything quickly turns into an enclosure of some form, even the vast expanse of the world. We’ll leave this group out of this discussion, as such a form of Claustrophobia is very, very rare and usually requires one to be under constant scrutiny.
Still, it’s all about the scale of expanse a Claustrophobic feels comfortable and can live a normal life in. The more common occurrence is when one feels entrapped and suffers panic attacks only when left alone in an elevator, a room or even a house setting. In the case of an individual who feels trapped at home, he (or she) may look and behave normal but spends almost all his (or her) waking hours out of the house.
And they number in the many.
In Penang, there is a closet community of Claustrophobics that communicate with and help each other out. They typically comprise singles with IQs on the higher end of the scale and are usually unable to communicate well with their parents and siblings due to their inability to stay home. As a result, they end up living single lives in isolation from their families.
They constitute one category of individuals who could suffer from the restriction in movement enforced by the Government of Malaysia. With public cafes closed, they will be forced to stay home and could end up suffering panic attacks. It gets worse when these people read reports of people falling sick and begin to feel that the world is closing in on them. And that can lead to something else.
But the point of this article isn’t to tell the GoM that there are people with Claustrophobia who may be hit very hard. No, I won’t waste my time doing that, because not only isn’t that the priority, the majority of Claustrophobics I know don’t even admit that they’re Claustrohobic and almost never suffer panic attacks unless circumstances are extreme.
The point of this article is to tell the GoM to keep reassuring the people that Covid-19, if managed well, is a curable disease. Don’t just focus on negative news, but present reports of people getting cured and positively themed talk shows where viewers can call in. It may be one small step for the GoM, but a huge step towards helping everyone make sense of the world by letting them know that the GoM is with them, that they’re not alone.