Remember, we all have the power to ask for help

Sam Tench / Photo blogs / / 1 Comment

Life; it’s up and downs, its twists and turns

Love; how it makes you feel

Happiness; the genuine and unending kind

Peace; the serenity and joy it brings

Faith; and how it keeps you going

Dreams; till they one day become reality.

Ramala Sunasi


Almost two years have passed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As an individual merely existing through this time, switching off from the grim realities of COVID has been a losing battle. The media has made any attempt to keep my mind COVID-free impossible. Therefore, trying to achieve a sense of internal peace or freedom has been an ongoing losing battle.  Throughout these two years, my guard of protection has been more vital than ever as I diligently watch and protect the backs of the nearest and dearest in my life.  Determination to do everything possible to ensure the virus does not knock on the door of any members of my family has been priority number one.  At least then I could feel a sense of comfort in knowing we were safe.

As we all know, lockdowns have been a key strategy: stay at home and stay safe.  In Victoria, we’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of unpredictable and unrelenting lockdowns.  One day we have limited freedoms dangled in our faces, the next, these freedoms are chaotically snatched away.  This ride has seen many parts of Victoria take the title of the most locked-down place in the world. Not one of our proudest achievements.

Lockdowns are wearing thin, and our commitment is wavering. The rules underpinning these lockdowns are becoming harder to endure.  Still, on the other hand, this strategy does give a sense of comfort and safety. After all, if we’re locked away, the chances of contracting anything are significantly reduced.  That is an immense comfort.

Early on, our goal as a nation was to maintain an elusive ‘Zero COVID’.  In other words, we would stay at home until the case numbers were driven back to ‘zero’.   More recently, however, the stakes have changed dramatically and sent this ideology of ‘Zero COVID’ to the bottom of the political agenda.  The approach to dealing with the pandemic now aims to vaccinate the nation and open up regardless of the number of positive cases. This new approach has been received with mixed emotions.

New agenda taking Victorians by storm

I frequently wonder if I’m alone in feeling alarmed at the thought of softening restrictions during a time when cases are at an all-time high.  Attaining ‘zero COVID’ had been repeatedly drummed into our minds, and suddenly we are told about this new and widely divergent approach.  For me, the change in mindset is overwhelming.

Today we aim for maximum vaccination rate and opening up, regardless of the case numbers. I do not feel emotionally ready to take on this new approach which is also partly responsible for the widening divide between two groups, the vaccinated and non-vaccinated. These groups are open to new scientific discoveries, and conspiracies are doing the rounds.  We are told the unvaccinated people will be unable to enjoy the same level of freedom as those who have chosen to be vaccinated.  This has the potential to cause unrest and the breakdown of friendships and associations.

The struggle

Under a façade of indifference, this idea of living life regardless of the case numbers is tearing me apart.  The world feels like it’s out of control; life feels out of MY control. To add greater insult, I feel like a monumental hypocrite.  Lockdown is tearing my family apart, yet the thought of getting out and mixing with people fills me with an intense sense of fear and anxiety.

Despite living in Geelong, where restrictions have eased somewhat, and despite being fully vaccinated, the lingering fear of contracting the virus means I continue to lay low in my home. I’m terrified of sending my kids, who are too young to be vaccinated, to school. The thought of them being near other children in the classrooms sends shivers down my spine. I fear one day soon, they will be exposed to a COVID positive individual.  That is one of my greatest fears.

Living in a time of uncertainty

Uncertainty dictates our reality.  All of us are travelling blind along a painfully long road. We make up the rules as we go along; no wonder some of us continue to struggle; we have no clear sense of what lies ahead.  Control is a powerful tool to have.  Like myself, maybe you find yourself questioning:

  • Will the vaccine protect me?
  • Do I need a booster? If so, when?
  • What about virus mutations?
  • What if my children get COVID?
  • Is it safe to open up when cases are so high?
  • Is it safe to travel?
  • How can I trust humanity?

I could go on with this list, but it already demonstrates the level of uncertainty.  This uncertainty paves the way for intense anxiety.  Add whatever other struggles life has thrown your way lately, and you have a recipe for emotional torment.

A little over two weeks ago, my home was broken into during the early hours of the morning.  A place where I should be able to feel safe and comfortable.  A place where I’ve spent many hours in lockdown.  My family were home at the time, and luckily or unluckily, I disturbed the offenders.  What these low-lives stole on that night is irrelevant; I couldn’t care less. It’s the deep feelings they’ve left with me that have had a lingering impact.

The week following the night this all took place, I thought and kept telling everyone, “I’m fine, I’m angry and would like to express my aggression on these gutless offenders in a physical manner!” Yes, that’s correct, all I wanted to do was punch them, and I’m pretty certain I would have done so if given the opportunity. Next came a warning from my doctor, who advised me to monitor these emotions because they tend to change instantly.

To say he was right would be an understatement.  Having the intent of inflicting pain, true to my doctor’s word, my emotions took another dramatic turn just one week later.  One week following the break-in, I found myself on the floor inside my wardrobe, having an episode that I now know was an anxiety attack.  My whole world came crashing in on me in an instant, and I couldn’t control my reaction.

My mind was in a state of frenzy as it dissected everything that was currently bothering me.  Tears, physical pain, mind racing and inability to control my breathing took over my body.  That firm woman, revengeful, ready to beat up those two men who invaded her home, had been suddenly reduced to a somewhat irrational and highly strung mess, laying inside of my wardrobe.  That night, I woke several times.  I sat at my window in darkness, looking out to where I had seen those two men just one week earlier.

The next part of my story-taking action

So how do we keep moving forward when faced with an influx of worrying situations?  I don’t have definitive answers for this; I don’t think anybody does.  Back to my anxiety attack, I immediately called my mentor June as I sat on the floor in extreme distress.  Credit to June for successfully talking me out of the dire state I found myself in.

Situations like this cannot be solved instantly, and I knew that when I dialled June’s phone number.  I called to talk to someone who also had much emotional baggage in her life.  I called to talk to someone who would understand me and could help bring me back down and see a little more clearly.  At that moment, I knew there would be no judgment for showing my vulnerability, asking for help or crying my way through a conversation.  Making that phone call was the only thing I could’ve done to help myself in that moment of need.  Let that be an important message; we all have the power to ask for help.

1 Comment

  1. Julie Johnson  —  27 October 2021 at 10:12 pm

    Oh Sam, I feel for you with that break into your home something you really did not need at the time and what none of us ever need. The anxiety attack in the wardrobe is a terrifying event as I have also had them, thankfully in the distant past but not so debilitating that I can’t remember them and the breathing techniques really help. These damn things particularly affect me over times I have no control, such as flying, OMG what a nightmare and also things like school buses and trains. I was helped on the buses as I knew I had to look after about 30 students and I could not allow anxiety to take over my care of them. So I am hearing your uncertainty over loose controls and worry over your family. You need to know you are far from alone in these thoughts in this time. Neville has played a bit fast and loose with the rules and I could do nothing about that even though I refused to break them and go to our youngest grandchild’s birthday tea. I too am trying not to test the system! You would be super human I think if you did not have A DEGREE OF WORRY over opening up this long weekend. Nev has said going nowhere as also a bit anxious of who will come out of Melb and move around over a super long weekend. I am also CONCERNED about starting Pennant Bowls on the 6th Nov when who the hell knows what has come from Melb over long weekend. You are human to be scared but we are all double vaxxed and my best call is feel comfortable with what you are doing we can’t live caged forever, good for no-one. I am hoping that the numbers do not not rise too significantly by end of next week in our regions if they do I will probably still play as I have the best protection I can get at the moment, be careful and move on with my life. Nearly 2 years have disappeared, somehow we have got to learn to live with this while taking all the best precautions. You are not alone with your feelings and just because a lot of people want to get out does not mean another lot do not want to feel extremely safe like you. Balance it all out, what you can and will do and what makes you feel very unwell and can’t do. We just can’t stay at home forever as much as we may feel better there because then as you have stated comes the guilt as well and it is real and should never be underestimated. My best advice is to take small but outward steps to get on with your life recognising that the risk with small steps is minimal but may help the rest of your family as you will only pass on fear to your kids if you want to stay enclosed at home and not only don’t they need this they don’t deserve this. Small steps outward xxxxxx Julie


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