I have to hand it to people working in jobs where they have to show up day in, day out for the good of the community such as medical and emergency staff. They must have a resilience and internal fortitude about them and these are admirable qualities to have and I wish I had 1/10th of what they have.
This lockdown is different.
I’m not going to lie, I’m finding this one more difficult than the others. Not that the Delta strain is “out there” and that it’s more contagious than previous strains; not that it’s put more uncertainty into our lives here in Melbourne.
When I think about the reason, I think it’s because I had the audacity to start to plan again and this lockdown came by to nip it in the bud. This lockdown has gotten many down psychologically. It’s gotten us beat now.
For a while before lockdown, we started thinking that, at least, we can go back to some semblance of normality but no, that wasn’t the case. It was only a matter of time.
I’m trying to keep positive about it but in all honesty, it’s hard going. This stop start approach, the uncertainty – it’s mentally tiring. I wish I had the resilience of others out there but to say that it hasn’t affected me – as it has my family – in small but noticeable ways, I’d be lying. Here’s some things I’ve noticed for myself, family and friends:
It’s the little things such as:
- Not having shopped for essentials and going without some things (fearing the supermarket; fearing the need to use mobile phone to scan QR codes; not understanding new protocols; fearing people who are fearing each other; lack of control)
- Loss of confidence; constantly doubting yourself and not knowing who or what to believe
- Bouts of anger and frustration; lethargy and pity
- Inconsistent messages make you doubt everything you read or hear
- Not leaving home at all – or fearing to leave home – even for daily walks which means your routine is disrupted
- Constantly hearing negative news on radio, television, social media and online
- Extreme mood fluctuations (this is mine) where I can spend an entire day under the doona thinking “what’s the point of doing anything?” to other times where I’m productive (but that productivity is on just to pass time not for personal satisfaction)
- Knowing that just by speaking to someone it’ll make you feel better but really, you just don’t have the energy, want or motivation to speak to anyone
- Knowing that when the time comes for you to leave the house, it seems to be one HUGE surmountable obstacle and then you ask yourself, “do I really need to go there?” then you stay in because it’s just “easier”.
- Eating and drinking anything (which then makes you feel miserable)
- Retreating into yourself and feeling isolated and can recognise these but at the same time, you don’t have the energy to reach out to anyone.
I think the biggest thing for me is the realisation that these little things, over time, are building up in people some kind of low grade anxiety and fear that seems to be at the back of your mind constantly and where you just retreat.
It’s as if you’ve lost confidence in yourself to do the basic things and now throw into question every single thing you’ve done before this because it comes across as meaningless, self-centred and pointless.
For example, I look at all my work and videos online and I think, “What crap!” Then I think of ways of how I could deactivate and delete everything and retreat into a shell. There are some days where I just stay in bed under the covers. Nothing seems to be as important as I thought it was before.
The mojo is gone.
But at the same time, I recognise these feelings as a result of the situation that we’re in, so I fight them. I feel as if I’ve been playing a constant tug of war between what my body is feeling it wants to do and what my mind is fighting for me to keep doing. My heart? Well that’s the missing link here. It should be doing more.
For example, I keep thinking:
- People working at the front line have it much worse than you do – get up out of bed and go for a walk!
- People during world war 2 had it far harder – what are you whining about Helen, get your shit together and go splash some water on your face and then face the day
- Look what’s happening in India, it could be a lot worse – be thankful of what you have
- Others are in FAR worse position than you – you have no right to feel sorry for yourself..
….and so it goes on…..
That’s the state of my drill sergeant head nearly every single day.
I’m fighting the internal struggle between these extreme mood fluctuations and this gnawing anxiety for the last 18 months or so.
This lockdown has hit the hardest and I think it’s because we were caught out again.
So at times like this, in my pyjamas on a weekend afternoon and in bed still because I can’t be bothered to do anything else, speak with anyone or force myself to get outside for a walk (which I know will make me feel so much better), I think of all our medical and emergency staff and think that their resilience comes from the fact that they give service to others. They have the “heart” speaking here.
They don’t have the luxury of self pity because their focus is on others to look after and maybe that’s exactly what I should be doing. To fight this lethargy, I need to serve.
To get outside of my head, to fight the anxiety and the need to retreat from everyone and the world and instead, focus outwards with my heart and care for others.