CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses mental health issues.

I was fine during the first lockdown in NSW.

Sure, I was anxious and depressed as I always am, but I was coping just fine. I watched a lot of Netflix, got really into baking, and learnt how to paint with watercolours, until I eventually went back to work. I organised Zoom calls with my friends a couple of times a week, still got to see my intimate partner, and was relatively okay.

This lockdown though, has been completely different.

I’m probably better off than a lot of people – this time around, my income and work hours haven’t been affected by COVID, I’m not struggling financially, and even though I live in one of the 12 LGA’s of concern, I’m at least within 5km of my mum and best friend.

Things should feel mostly the same as last year. Except, they don’t.

I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. And by a truck, I mean a wave of anxiety, depression and hopelessness that’s so overwhelming sometimes I honestly forget to breathe. I feel like every inch of me is stretched to the limit, that I’m exhausted all the time even though I’m the least active I’ve ever been, and my mind is somehow racing and sluggish all at once while I barely compute what’s going on around me.

Basically, I’m at the end of my rope, and that rope is about to fucking snap.

And it’s not just me. Everyone I talk to is at their breaking point. We’re living through unprecedented times, isolated from loved ones, under stressors most of us can’t even really pin-point, and it doesn’t matter how you felt at the start of lockdown, it’s just been so long that it’s going to hurt regardless of how well you normally cope.

As someone who, while being depressed and anxious, is also productive and high-functioning to a fault, I often struggle to accept that I need rest or that it’s okay for me to be sad and take a break to feel those feels.

I’m constantly telling myself that it could be worse, and that I’m lucky to have a job and a home and people that care about me. It’s a toxic cocktail of survivor’s guilt and avoiding my feelings of crushing sadness and helplessness so I don’t have to ‘fix’ them.

But you know what I’m finally realising? Maybe it’s fine to just admit that we aren’t okay, to just accept things are bad and everything sucks, without having to find self-betterment in it. We’re all carrying so much tension and anxiety and maybe even resurfacing trauma, and sometimes you just need to acknowledge and feel that without it having to be anything more. Without the weight of having to ‘fix’ it.

The freedom of feeling sad, and feeling down, and allowing yourself to just languish and wallow, is something so many of us deny ourselves because of our notions of perfection and productivity. Not everything has to be done with a plan, structure and end-goal in mind.

Maybe it’s okay to just acknowledge that you’re struggling, and that in itself is okay. That surviving is enough, that it’s fine if we aren’t doing the absolute most, and it’s fine if you can’t believe that, either.

So if you’re at your breaking point, where your emotions are finally hitting the fan, you can’t really take it anymore, and getting out of bed is just so fucking hard for no fucking reason: that’s valid. I see you, and I feel you. And this is a space for you to be like ‘man, fucking same‘ without having to think of answers or solutions.

I had a long cry today to my partner over how overwhelmed and stressed I’m feeling, and it was one of those things where I didn’t want advice, or a plan, or to be reminded of the things I should be happy about. I just wanted to be able to feel sad, and honestly? That’s cathartic and kind of freeing in it’s own right.

If you need mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.