Lockdown, take three
Friday, February 12, 2021, delivered a slap in the face. Maybe I’m naive but I didn’t see this coming. I feel severely misled because Victorians have been thrown into lockdown number three. To clarify, when I say, ‘I didn’t see this coming’, I was expecting some level of restrictions to be reimposed. But I was not expecting the severity of this five-day circuit breaker. which puts the entire state in lockdown with stage four restrictions. Apparently, when going for a run or riding a bike now, one must wear a mask! What did I miss here? In my mind, that in itself is a recipe for disaster because a certain level of oxygen is required to run or cycle; a mask doesn’t allow for that. We’ve been told this period of lockdown is a five-day circuit breaker, similar to what other states within Australia have completed when addressing small outbreaks within their communities. Yet, the rumor mill is already predicting this period will extend longer than five days. I suspect we have been misinformed, with the government possibly planning a more extended period as early as the day the short circuit breaker was announced.
We are into day three of the current five-day lockdown, and all I feel is a looming sense of uncertainty or, as one of my daughters says, a sense of doom. The Government is telling us the version of the story they want us to know. I have never been one to jump up and down, condemning every action or mistake the Andrews’ Government has made. Yet, my opinions are altering, and I’m losing trust in this government at an alarmingly rapid rate. Memories of an extended lockdown in 2020 don’t merely evaporate from my mind. They’ve been stored in my library of memories, and with Friday’s announcement have been rigorously re-ignited, haunting me more than ever.
When I sit and think about the past year, I feel like remote-learning never actually came to an end. In the case of my children who finished school for 2020 on December 8, following a short period of in-class learning during Term Four, life has had no chance to return to any sense of stability or routine. With minimal days of at-school time over the past year, closely followed by summer school holidays, the weight of isolation-induced anxiety and fear is again weighing on my shoulders. I don’t feel like I’ve had time to digest and recover from the 2020 at-home learning experience. And now I find myself bracing for the worst news possible; a longer period of lockdown than the politicians have so far declared. Thoughts are rapidly running through my mind as the anxiety I feel towards remote learning increases by the hour. Pure dread makes me feel nauseous; my appetite has dried up, and sleep escapes me. Did I mention it’s only day three of lockdown?
There’s more to this story than an internalized state of anxiety over living in lockdown. My greatest fear is for my two young girls’ well-being, a feeling I’m confident most Victorian parents will share. Mental illness is on the rise (primarily due to COVID-19) for all demographics within our society. The psychological services required to address a rapid increase in demand are under-resourced. Adults, children and the elderly alike have little choice but to forge ahead in a state of silence and untreated mental distress. Sadly, one of my children has experienced adverse effects, surfacing due to being confined to home, missing her friends, and teacher and missing out on one of the most crucial times in a child’s life, the first year in primary school. Her confidence has been rattled, whatever she attempts is no longer good enough, and her personality has changed; she’s angry and sad, but doesn’t know why. Observing her distress is a harrowing experience. I want to click my fingers and fix her, not that she’s broken. Yet, even with access to health services, making positive progress is a monumental task. Time and patience are key healers, I’m told, but I feel like a pincushion, with needles piercing my skin. The pain is sharp and it’s lingering.
When I admit that on Friday afternoon at school pickup, I broke down in tears as I watched my little girl leave her classroom, maybe you’ll relate to why this lockdown is painful on such a profound level. I don’t know when my little girl will get to return to her classroom door so she can experience something close to a typical school experience. Now, uncertainty and fear have returned—fear for my daughter’s well-being and fear for what lies ahead of Wednesday, February 17.
My thoughts go out to every parent facing similar struggles.