After four lockdowns, Melburnians should be experts on navigating the ebb and flow of restrictions. But there’s something about the end of lockdown four that just seems to be hitting different, and I don’t think it’s just me.
At the end of lockdown one I think we were all ready for things to go back to normal. The bad things had happened, I thought, and we were all in this together as a country. I had faith that the state and federal governments would work together to make sure everything would be OK.
Lockdown 4.0 sent Melburnians back into their homes.
Post lockdown two, all I wanted to do was lie down in the grass and go visit my dad. We had done the hard work, and now we could join the other states in their freedoms, perhaps a little shell-shocked and suffering from some PTSD and agoraphobia. As a community we’d just done the impossible, and it was easy to feel proud to be Victorian. Sure, one of the first things I did was go to Costco and prepare for the next lockdown, but deep down I don’t think I really believed we would have to do it again. The faith that the states and feds would work together was misplaced.
It was also lockdown two that it became clear that lockdown isn’t something we’re all in together, it’s just something we do at the same time. As we collectively realised Zoom happy hours weren’t the same, we came to terms with the isolation of lockdown. Physically, lockdown is largely a solo activity and if we were all in it together, we’d be doing it wrong.
I can’t even remember how I felt at the end of lockdown three; I think I’ve blocked it out.
But at the end of lockdown four, I’m just tired. There doesn’t really feel much point in looking forward to big things, because they probably won’t happen. That’s not to say that the time has come to fall into a deep depression and declare there’s no point in anything any more. It just means I’ve changed the kinds of things I look forward to in order to protect myself. But it is difficult to feel hopeful for the future when anything that requires seeing other people and/or going outside is so uncertain. The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to look a bit dim.
It is difficult to feel hopeful for the future when anything that requires seeing other people and/or going outside is so uncertain.Credit:Eddie Jim
The feeling that we’re leaving lockdown too early for political reasons doesn’t help. There are still active mystery cases and still dozens of exposure sites are going up every week, including my local supermarket. I’m not a public health expert, my opinion on that is basically meaningless, but it doesn’t feel great. Plus, given our vaccine rollout is so pathetically behind even the most modest targets, lockdowns five and six feel inevitable.
According to psychologists, it’s normal to feel exhausted now. The emotional work required to cope with the uncertainty, disappointment and fear is huge, and that’s enough to make anyone tired. Plus, in lockdown it’s natural to start going to bed and getting up later because it feels more normal to not be able to go out at night, as opposed to when the sun is up. Getting a good night’s sleep and trying to return to familiar routines can be ways to help get out of the post-lockdown funk.
It’s also important that we take advantage of this non-lockdown time to spend time with friends, take a walk with the sun on your face, and stimulate the economy by treating yourself to something nice. But especially take the chance to talk to friends, because they’re probably going through the same thing.
We all need to keep in mind that we’re not alone. Lockdown four may have been our second shortest lockdown, but that doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. The psychological weight of a pandemic is cumulative, and it’s important we take this time to support each other.
Alice Clarke is an award-winning freelance journalist, producer and presenter.
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