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Yoohoo, it’s little ol’ Lockdown Lou coming at you from Lockdown Numéro Six. Take your pants off, have a seat.

Not a single person here predicted that over a year-and-a-half after COVID became public knowledge, we’d still be exactly where we started: sitting in a (presumably) dark room, chatting to our mates over Zoom, having mad bants about the impending doom.

I don’t know what heaven is, but I can tell you it’s definitely not a place on earth with Zoom.

For those of you who continue to battle through the crappy internet connection, constant interruptions and hours of ‘wait sorry, you go’ moments, you’ve undoubtedly experienced a certain phenomenon quite unlike any other – the post-Zoom gloomies.

It usually starts to take hold within seconds of closing your laptop or turning off your monitor, and it’s a cold, crushing wave of emotions that kind of feel like you’re suffocating while also freezing to death. Perhaps with a sprinkle of nostalgia-driven melancholy.

If you think I’m being dramatic, you’re the outlier. It’s truly an awful feeling.

Here’s why we’re likely to get the post-Zoom gloomies and, more importantly, why you shouldn’t feel isolated for…well, feeling isolated.

This isn’t the norm

Despite this pandemic playing a starring role in our own movie, we need to constantly remind ourselves that this isn’t normal.

I definitely float in and out of stages where I feel guilty for being so depressed about the current situation, and then I get annoyed at myself for feeling guilty and for being depressed, and then I’m just a walking Spider-Man meme where all of my issues are pointing at each other, perplexed.

You’re allowed to not be doing well and you’re allowed to be pissed off about it.

If it truly is impacting you more than it’s not, speak to someone – anyone – about it. Friends, family, professionals – let it out.

The more people I’ve spoken to, the more I realise how much everyone else is feeling the grunt of it, and in a weird way, it’s kinda like sharing the burden.

Many hands make lighter work and all that jazz.

No one was equipped to handle this

Do you think any of us mere civilians know what we’re doing? Bro, I didn’t know what I was doing before the pandemic, what chance do I have at handling a legitimate worldwide emergency?

Sure, in the grand scheme of things, feeling emotional after ending a call with your loved ones might seem small, but if your own body is telling you that it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal.

It’s also just counterproductive to compare your own feelings to ‘the grand scheme of things’, as you’ll spend your entire life neglecting yourself.

“Well so and so have it so much worse” might technically be true, but it also doesn’t change the way you cope with your own shit.

Regardless of personality, we rely on others

I don’t care how strong and independent you are, there’s still a scratch that solo life can’t itch.

Connections are important. I spend 24 hours with myself and because of that, I naturally tire of hanging out with just me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a hoot, but too much of a good thing is never a good thing.

So, it’s natural to have a sudden pang of sadness after wrapping up a call with your connections, because it means that, once again, you’re stuck with yourself in what is seemingly a neverending health crisis.

I used to hypothesise who I’d pick to live in a bomb shelter if doomsday came about and not once did I think, ‘I’ll pick myself’.

A lot of us weren’t doing well *before* the pandemic

Hey, beautiful. Remember the issues that consumed you before the pandemic? Ah yes, those ones.

For a lot of us, it’s hard to believe that we actually weren’t doing so crash hot before the earth shat itself, because quite genuinely any scenario that doesn’t involve the word ‘pandemic’ seems like a true oasis.

The grass is greener effect, if you will.

If you’re feeling particularly affected by what is seemingly the simple act of ending a call with loved ones, it might be wise to take into account all of the other variables. How was your mental health before the call? Have you been keeping an eye on your mental health? Do you feel your mental health deteriorating? Was it deteriorating before the pandemic?

The pandemic has amplified everyone’s emotions tenfold, so don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re more affected by situations than you were in the past.

Also remember that there’s a strong chance you were dealing with other crap before COVID yoohooed into our lives.

Every person’s living situation is wildly different

Multiple friends I know who live by themselves are having a rough bloody time.

I live with a housemate, so at least when I finish a call, there’s still an actual human there who I can talk to. Not everyone is so lucky.

It might also be the case where you live in an unhealthy environment, so these calls are the brief escape you get from it all.

Closing the laptop or hanging up on a friend is at best an awful feeling, at worst absolutely soul-crushing and demoralising. We’re not going to know the full implications of this pandemic for a while, however the likelihood of its effects on mental health lingering well beyond its lifespan is concerningly high.

If you’re struggling, please, please reach out to services like Kids Helpline. It’s available 24/7 (for 5-25-year-olds via WebChat, Email or Phone) to provide advice and support around all matters regarding mental health.

Click here for support if you’re over 25

Looking for a safe space to chat with others going through challenges just like you? Check out Kids Helpline’s My Circle – the social platform that’s good for your mental health! Free, private and anonymous, My Circle is open to 13-25-year-olds across Australia!

Image: Image: iStock / MarioGuti