Lockdown lessons by Katherine Jones (Educator and Director at Rise & Thrive )
Written back in Oct/Nov 2020 but could have easily been written today!
Let's play a little guessing game: Where am I?
Every day is groundhog day.
I cannot travel outside 5km from my cell...I mean house...and we are locked up from 9pm to 5am.
I am trying to keep on top of PAID work while simultaneously supervising miniature colleagues whose hobbies include fighting, crying, screaming, rubbing Sudocrem on every part of their body and then 'photo-bombing' zoom conferences with my boss, all the while demanding an endless supply of snacks as if I am the packet of Tim-Tams that never runs out.
The only time I see my mother is on a video call, most of which is spent yelling "you're on mute!", and my friends are getting rather too used to seeing the two dimensional image of me in the same tracksuit pants and grotty jumper (complete with food stains) while clutching my wine glass as if it is the only thing holding me together after the dinner, bath, bed routine...EVERY FREAKING NIGHT.
I am bored, tired, frustrated and trapped. If I hear the theme song from Bluey one more time I swear there won't be enough 'dollar-bucks' left in my account to cover the therapy I will need...or replace the TV that will cop the full force of my rage. Great show though! Da na na na na nah na...
Have you guessed it yet? Well done, you!
That's right: Old Melbourne Jail, in the time of Covid-19, 2020 or Lockdown 3.0 for Victorians Feb 2021.
We have been in lockdown now for 2,357,456 days! No, not really...but we have just clocked over the 128 day mark (equating to approximately 47% of our year to date!)
I am lucky. My family are healthy, my hubby and I still have jobs. We have a roof over our head, food and safety. Our blessings are nothing to sneeze at...while masked up of course.
As a mother, and like so many of you, I am so severely depleted and have little left in the tank at the end of each day. Motherhood can be a wild dichotomy of loving your children with every fibre of your being to the point where you would jump in front of a bus to save them without hesitation, and the (oh here goes...wait for the trolls...) and the constant wondering what life would be like in a child free parallel universe of complete do-what-I-want-when-I-want Zen.
Throw in a pandemic, closure of all child caring and education services, no one being allowed to come to your house, "mummy I want a snack" on repeat twelve hours a day and don't even THINK about TOUCHING another human being - the challenges of motherhood take on a whole new meaning. For many of us, this is just the tip of the iceberg of struggles during this time.
The full extent of the suffering of our state (and the rest of Australia) runs much deeper than we may truly realise. It will be a long time until not only a vaccine is produced, but also the social, emotional and financial impact will be measured within our community.
So when scary words like 'recession', 'lockdown', 'pandemic' and 'fallout' fill the air around us, how do we not fall prey to the fear?
Honestly, all jokes and sarcasm aside, there are so many 'tips' I could give you right now. Anything from switching off from social media to working on your mindset to getting active with your kids. But these really do seem like short term strategies which may help to keep the fear at bay, but not actually prove useful.
So my big answer is this - take a moment to evaluate your values and what is important to you.
With all that has been stripped away from our lives, now is a good time to ask ourselves if we really needed some of those things, or were they just cluttering up our lives? What part of your pre-covid life do you miss to the point of it being unbearable? What parts can you live happily without?
For me, connection is something I value. I have come to realise that the most important things to me are my friends and family. Without social connections in my life, I feel isolated, alone and worthless. It has been heartbreaking to see impact of the loss of connection play out in my family, friends and community. I have friends and family who have been stuck in apartments and homes alone for weeks on end. I have loved ones stuck in lockdown overseas, unable to get home. Watching stories in the media about families unable to visit their sick or drying loved ones has made me cry. Hearing the frustration from ICU nurse friends working on the Covid ward has given me insight into what it is like being physically disconnected through PPE to their patients.
I have lost a loved one this year to suicide. Watching the funeral via video link at home, unable to be with my family, unable to grieve with them, unable to touch them in their moments of distress has left a hole in my heart that will never be filled.
Covid has taught me that there are so many things I can live without. But I cannot live and thrive without human connection in all it's forms.
Visiting family and friends, watching my children play with other children, talking openly, laughter, hugs, love. I cannot live a life of fulfilment and joy without these things. It is in the company and through the connection of others that I am sustained.
I may teeter on the edge of despair at times, but I will not fall prey to the fear of those words.
Not during lockdown.
Not during a pandemic.
So what keeps you going?
For crisis help please contact:
13 11 14 Lifeline Australia 1300 651 251 - Suicideline Victoria
1300 22 4636 - Beyond Blue