The Psychological Effects of confinement in Morocco

The stress of being caged within four walls might seem challenging, but enduring both isolation and mental disorders during lockdown is worse than hell (as far as Moroccans are conserned).

The kingdom of Morocco has managed to take control over the coronavirus pandemic; the strict measures the authorities have taken to tackle the virus are paying off. However, some Moroccans consider themselves as prisoners in their own house; they admitted that they are lost between depression and anxiety, as these latter are dwelling in their souls.

Mohammed TARFAOUI, a married Moroccan man who is in his mid-forties, and one of the many Moroccans who suffer from severe anxiety because of the strict quarantine, shared his own experience and confirmed that he is living a horror movie currently.

Have you ever experienced severe anxiety before?

« I have experienced a nervous breakdown in 1990; and was hospitalized in 2004, 2005 and 2010 for two weeks due to mental issues in a psychiatric hospital named AR-RAZI in Sale. Unfortunately, the breakdown has evolved in 2010 and I have ended up dealing with a psychic disorder. The side effects of this mental illness are complicated, I hardly ever am able to sleep because of hallucinations and horrific thoughts. I cannot even stay at home… I literally am an unstable person who cannot work on a daily basis by reason of my mental disorder.»

Has your case worsened during the COVID-19 outbreak?

« When my case worsens like this very day, all I have to do is flee from my cage, for I do not control myself . I rather become aggressive and smoke a lot of cigarettes to handle my pain. And now that I am imprisoned in my house and cannot get rid of this torture. I stay awake the whole night, and wake up early in the morning with a feeling of fear and anger that dwell within my soul, staying at home gets on my nerves.» He admitted.

Fatima Zahra, a 35-year-old woman made it clear that her husband Mohammed TARFAOUI is in deep pain. To delve into their experience with quarantine, she shared a few words on how they are enduring these tough times.

Could you walk us through your experience with a husband who suffers from a psychic disorder?

« To be completely honest with you, I feel like I am a mother of three children, and my youngest is my husband. I take good care of him even when I am not doing well. No one was ready for this confinement; it is like a sudden shock that knocked us lower than ever before. I feel like being a responsible wife and mother depletes all my energy, but again, I try to remain calm and comprehensive. When I imagine myself in Mohammed’s situation, I feel his pain and struggles and try to wipe them away by being by his side and calming him down. Mohammed’s case tends to get extremely bad from time to time especially during this period of quarantine, for he is used to hanging out with his friends or at least spending several hours in coffeeshops to clear his mind. He gets aggressive and yells at me as well as people who stand against him… Besides, the only way possible to calm him down is PIPORTIL – a major tranquilizer that is used to treat psychoses and other conditions –1 sadly, the tranquilizer is sometimes out of stock and we do not find any alternative medicine to reduce his pain. This period is really.» She mentioned.

We had the chance to contact a Moroccan psychologist under the name of Dr Driss Bennani, to enlighten us about the way people cope with isolation. He explained that Moroccans disagree on how risky the pandemic can be.

How do people deal with quarantine?

« There are two types of people, those who underestimate the risks of COVID-19 and those who overestimate them. Which means they are either not taking all necessary precautions and measures to protect themselves from the viruses, or overprotecting themselves to the point of becoming maniac and developing an OCD -Obsessional-Compulsive Disorder-. Quite a lot of cases who overestimate the risk of this pandemic confessed to counseling centers that the overuse of household bleaches caused an inflammation on their skins.» Dr Bennani clarified.

Do specialized psychologists offer therapeutic services through phone calls?

« We cannot provide therapeutic services through phone calls, since we have to meet our patients in person to figure out what they need. Fortunately, there are some services that offer psychological support and guidance to help people in need. It is also worth mentioning that psychology graduates are volunteering to help people who suffer during the COVID-19 crisis by listening to patients’ issues and offering them help.» Dr Bennani stated.

Eventually, there are always two sides to each story, in the interest of balance, one has to focus more on the good side. COVID-19 has not only left bad imprints on people’s memories, it also has a silver lining. Pollution is down, and will continue to be lower during this period. Families are finally free to spend quality times with their family members. People are kind towards one another, and invest all their knowledge and energy to lift spirits amid the pandemic; and the list goes on… The question is, will this experience bring the best out of you?

1 https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/brain-nervous-system/a7353/piportil-depot-pipotiazine/

Loubna El Alaoui

Hi there, let me walk you through my humble personal and professional life! My name's Loubna and I am a Moroccan web editor, investigator and journalism student. I've always been fond of writing, for it helps me get things clear in my head and reduce stress. I began writing some personal articles that I only shared with some very close friends of mine, and now, a humble number of people read my articles about life, environment, society... Before I held my BA in English Literature, so many people and teachers told me that I could be a great journalist. Well guess what....? After so many experiences, I found my passion and what I truely want to do with my life. And now I'm working on my masters degree in Journalism and Media.