Over to you, Victorians

With most Age staff now working from home – again – we have started a little channel where people can share photos of their children or their pets or just something heart-warming. It’s tagged #lightandfluffy and it’s the best thing that happened today.

I don’t have much more to offer to be honest. Whether you believe this 6th Victorian lockdown is the least bad option or not – and The Age accepts the evidence at this point that Delta outbreaks give us no alternative until more of us are vaccinated – it’s dismaying, infuriating and exhausting to be in lockdown again just days after emerging from the last one.

I do not have young children, but staff members and friends who do say it’s one of the worst things to keep pulling children in and out of school and to attempt to work while helping them learn from home. So, having run out of words myself, I thought I’d turn it over to you. Readers send us their thoughts, ideas and feelings, and below are a few we’ve received in the past day or so. They are a rich mix of hope, despair, frustration and practicality.

I liked this one from John, who has not let a single lockdown go to waste. “Lockdown 1. Learned how to make bread, Portuguese tarts, English-style pork pies and fresh pasta. Lockdown 2. Learned how to write Android Apps and create web pages. Lockdown 3. Built a wooden shed in the backyard and painted it. Lockdown 4. Rejigged the veggie patch. Lockdown 5. Had a rest lockdown. Lockdown 6. Sanding and chalk painting some old bookcases in my huge back shed (with woodburner). Will donate them to the charity shop when they reopen.

From another:

What works is almost pretending it’s not happening. Pretend I’m not missing out on valued and looked forward to social catch ups. Pretend it’s not tedious and draining for my children to be back home learning. Pretend that each time this happens we lose a bit of hope that we’ll ever be able to see treasured family overseas, book a trip with some certainty, plan ahead. So, to pretend, I try to stay in the moment. Do some household tasks, watch the Olympics, call family to check in.

Katherine: I have ordered 9 paperbacks, 10 bags of firewood, plumped up the cushions on my couch and put fresh sheets on my bed. I’m sorted.

Anonymous: I’ve never felt this bleak in my life. It feels like we’re stuck in this endless hell cycle. Don’t even have the energy to blame anyone or get angry any more. What gets me through is just thinking that our grandparents had it worse during WWII, and trying to remember to be grateful.

Amanda: I am an essential worker and it is exhausting mentally, emotionally and psychologically as my child still has to go to a school each day where she feels lonely, disconnected and like her learning is slipping with each lockdown. I understand people will say ‘at least you have a job’ but having a job does NOT make this situation any less stressful or unsettling……I am emotionally and mentally tired and at breaking point like so many other Victorians.

Anonymous: I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to work from home all along, but I’ve been struggling with the mental whiplash of going in and out of lockdown. Somehow it seemed easier when we knew we were in it for a long haul last year…. The underlying anxiety of the constant limbo is the killer for me, and I’m one of the lucky ones.

And another: I have been supportive of the other 5 lockdowns. I do not understand this time… It’s actually soul-crushing. To have literally no recovery time from the previous lockdown to then be plunged into the next is really hard to swallow. There has to be another way to manage COVID. Lockdowns can’t be the first and only option. Everyone I have spoken to is just about at breaking point. Everyone is demoralised. Everyone is tired. Everyone is sick to the back teeth with this yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns.

Nick: We had a nice chat about whether there was something we’d like to achieve this week, and I must admit, my old mentality of ‘Ahh… let’s just kick back and take each day as it comes’ swung back into motion, but this time, I thought, no, let’s actually aim for something achievable this week. So, we decided that we’d go for a run after work every day, and also to consciously cook every night, as opposed to sometimes deciding to go for take out.

Another thought: I am trying to not rage at the protesters, anti-vaxxers and COVID denialists. They get enough oxygen from the media, unfortunately. Expectations for home schooling are simply that the kids stay connected and complete their work. Friends must be contacted online to maintain a sense of community. Comfort food must be made and fireplaces must be roaring. I think, like a lot of people, we are becoming numb to this and have accepted that it is a fact of life right now.

Linda:

It was our son’s 21st birthday yesterday. We had planned a party at a venue for Saturday night and totally thought we were going to be able to have it due to 0 cases on Wednesday. Then BOOM lockdown. No party. We had a quick dinner in town last night but he couldn’t see his friends due to 8.00pm lockdown. There is just no point in planning anything or looking forward to anything right now. It is a truly horrible way to live.

Vanessa: I feel like I have woken up with a lockdown hangover! Knowing that my small business (a photography studio) has had to close for the 6th time in 12 months. Also knowing that once lockdown is lifted, it isn’t a snap back to work for our industry. There will still be delays in us being able to get back to work without any support. The “joy” of homeschooling my grade 2 son and twin preppies is not something I ever thought I would need to do… it is hard to say the least!

Last one, and a different perspective: This won’t ever get published because it strays too far from the headlines we readers tend to see, but as a very-privileged introvert able to work from home, and not a breeder, I have no problem with this lockdown or any previous one. Sorry, but we do exist. I only get troubled when the lockdowns end, and people go back to being slack with social distancing and failing to achieve the rocket-science-degree-required art of wearing masks properly.

Reading through dozens of your messages, it’s obvious that this is hard and draining. I have been inspired by Nick’s idea of trying to do at least one positive thing, so I pledge not to rely on chocolate and wine to get me through, and aim to exercise every day. Look after yourselves.

Support is available from Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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