Stop the blame game: It’s time to unite not fight
7 July 2020, 3.30pm
As I begin to write, a large part of Victoria comes to a standstill, watching and waiting anxiously for their leader to speak. I am no exception:
“Please don’t put us back into lock-down, please don’t put us back into lock-down, oh god I don’t know if I can make it through another lock-down.”
These words run through my head like a broken record while I sit, eyes fixated on my laptop, willing the announcement to start, my ears listening closely to every word in fear and anticipation.
Like many Victorians, I was anticipating the words nobody wanted to hear again, ‘it’s time to go back into lock down’. These words have huge implications for everyone; personally, and professionally. Industry suffers and families struggle to make ends meet. Business owners are on the receiving end of abuse from angry customers. Then there’s an issue surrounding the interrupted education of our children.
The words ‘lock down’, represent an endless list of negative flow-on effects which, we will witness for years to come. It is imperative that we all act with common sense and adapt to this new way of living, not just for ourselves but for the greater good of everyone in our country. Failing to do so will see our beautiful country headed down a bumpy road at a rapidly disturbing pace. Think of other countries whose COVID-19 cases have been out of control. We must accept the directives such as social distancing, stay at home if you can, good hygiene and not having large gatherings in or outside our homes. By ‘we’ I refer to our whole country, in fact, every country needs to stop think and do the right thing. Follow the expert health advice and be grateful we have experts guiding us. No-one is immune, everyone is equal, and everyone is a moving target.
The thought of returning to lock-down is devastating; physically I feel ill, emotionally I’m heartbroken. Just as I had begun to appreciate a small sense of freedom, enjoying walks along the river, and exploring new ideas for The Picture Healer, I was regaining a sense of excitement. Now, I feel such sources of enjoyment could again become out of reach. If so, my mind will go into overdrive, questioning how we’ll manage to get through a second stint in confinement inside our home. The perfectionist within will drive me to work from morning to bedtime to keep our two young children educated. Nothing else matters (besides the health and safety of all of us). Regardless of what anyone says, during times of isolation, we as parents take the load when it comes to education.
Sadly, I see a potential lock-down scenario as having significant implications. With kids at home full-time, time is of the essence and the lack of time I had to work previously during lock-down, serves as a grim reminder of everything I was unable to get done and the immense stress I experienced. The incomplete school learning tasks, the writing I couldn’t find time to do, the photography I was neglecting, all tied up neatly with an overwhelming sense of not enough time or energy to ensure the kids were cared for, educated properly, and given sufficient time outside for fresh air and the freedom to roam and just be children.
If you’re like me (ED or not) you’re most likely identifying with the strong perfectionist side that lives within. A trait that can kick in powerfully, bossing and insisting nothing is ever enough. There is always room to do more, usually only in the circumstances where you find yourself doing something for others, rarely for yourself. This is exactly what occurred to me during our first experience of home quarantine. I experienced an intense sense of overwhelm and not being able to hold on. The combination of juggling my writing and the accompanying photography for my online publication, mixed together with the responsibility for the education of my children, I found to be too much pressure, leaving myself wanting to run and hide from the world.
The massive sense of guilt I felt when working on The Picture Healer was profound. I don’t feel like I have the strength to do it all a second time if I’m to maintain a sense of sanity, stability, and a good learning environment for the kids. Potentially I might have to let go of the one thing I’ve come to love and gain a sense of pride in, a valuable recovery tool, a platform that has allowed me to blossom and speak out without regret or fear of repercussion, and a tool that has provided me with a sense of something to look forward to as it grows and becomes well known. The Picture Healer. So, if you’re contemplating whether to do the right thing or not, consider everyone, not just yourself. We all must make sacrifices; you are no different.
“Do I have it within me to do all that again?”
If you live in Melbourne, the battle has become more serious with COVID-19 infections increasing significantly on a daily basis. And so, as we sit, waiting for our State Premier Dan Andrews to make his daily announcement, we have much to think about. On the one hand no-one wants isolation reinstated, it’s not fun for anyone. On the other hand, the majority know this may be the only way to emerge from this debacle safely. The implications are huge.
And this is where my anger sets in. Looking back, the first threat of COVID-19 in Australia was minimal, a time of great success where we literally ‘dodged a COVID-19 bullet”. It was a huge relief. So, I sit here today wondering, what has gone so wrong? The admiration for how our government managed to keep case numbers so comparably low to that of other countries. We as a country brought out that great Australian spirit I have previously referred to. We came together in unity, listened to the experts, and came out relatively unscathed. Ultimately, we cut ourselves off from the entire world, anyone who didn’t live in our home suddenly became strangers, people we had once known and enjoyed spending time with were no longer considered safe to socialize with. It was an experience like no other and to the relief of many, it was highly successful in reducing our number of new cases to zero on some days. Then some of us began to go out to busy shopping centers, hold mass protests in the city, and resume life as it had been.
As quickly as we began moving away from the strictest of guidelines, having the opportunity to re- engage with others, with the world and being given the go ahead to enjoy some of those luxuries we’d once taken for granted, the feeling of having a little safety found its way back into our consciousness. Having been given the green light, we were encouraged to go out and fire up the economy once again, whilst keeping in mind all the precautionary measures we’d become very familiar with. So again, what went horribly wrong? Sitting here, just one day following the second clampdown, I’m not afraid to express the raging anger that burns inside. I’m wondering what all that sacrifice and putting life on hold the first time was for? Yes, our Government made mistakes, but people have not been social distancing as requested and we’ve all witnessed it. The mass protests in Melbourne come to mind, how could the organizers be so naive? The virus doesn’t magically go away because restrictions have eased. The threat is real and great diligence continues to be essential. Despite this, thousands congregated into the city center to protest for the cause Black Lives Matter. I knew we were asking for trouble.
Today, with reported cases in the hundreds, something had to give. We couldn’t continue hoping desperately for those numbers to magically drop without little disruption to our lives, or maybe we would all wake to find it was all merely a bad dream. If only.
“Please be just a bad dream.”
A matter of life or death for many, this has been no dream. No more tiptoeing around the numbers, everyone needs to face the hard facts, this was never going to get better until a state of lock-down was reinstated. And so around 3.30pm on Tuesday, the announcement was made; lock-down for regional Melbourne as of midnight on Wednesday for at least six weeks. State borders would be closed for the first time in a century, with the threat of hefty fines and prison time for those choosing to try their luck in breaking the rules. Relief, but frustration. As someone who lives in regional Victoria, I fear we could be soon in lock-down also.
With regard to the division that has paved the way for our nation to take on a ‘Them versus US’ mentality, if only we could all see that this is not the path to freedom, instead it will only hold us back. We need to unite, not fight. State governments, the Federal Government and every citizen y needs to stop the blame game. It is exhausting to listen to. We need to put all agendas aside and work together to stem this virus. Without unity and working as a whole, I fear we may end up going round and round the same old loop. Unity is the key to getting this right.
Take Home Message
Life seems grim now, the world a scary place. This is an anxiety-provoking situation. I have been in tears over recent days. My focus at the moment; turn off social media, find out what I need to know and then get on with my day. Continue to follow health advice, lay low, social distance and follow hygiene guidelines. There is nothing fake about a virus that has killed many people in such a short amount of time, I know this from experience.
Take one day at a time, focus on now and not what may be in two weeks’ time. We only have the power to control what we can do right now. And finally, do what you can to rally your family and friends to join you in doing the right thing, work together as a team. One final request: stop the blame game, we’re all responsible here and the Government, I believe is doing the best they can in difficult and unprecedented circumstances. Everyone makes mistakes, forgive and move on towards victory.