Melbourne is officially the most locked down city in the world, spending a total of 246 days inside and as a Melburnian all I can really say is “fuck”.
The record was previously held by Buenos Aires, who endured a 234-day lockdown from March 20 to November 11 2020, followed by a 10-day circuit breaker lockdown in May 2021. With a month to go until Melbourne opens up according to our roadmap, that means that we will have endured a total 267 days in lockdown.
We should be proud of all the hard work we’ve put in to save lives and take pressure off our healthcare system. But we’re not out of it yet, so it’s hard to really feel proud.
In fact, it’s hard to feel anything at all when you’re under constant stress. When I sat down to reflect on those 246 days scattered over the last 18 months, I wasn’t overcome with emotion — I just felt indifferent.
It’s weird because I know I’ve had extreme highs and lows throughout this pandemic, except now I just feel tired… so fucking tired.
We have a name for it now, it’s called lockdown fatigue, or burnout. I think that feeling is now a baseline emotion for most Melburnians, like what does it even mean to have energy?
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After hearing the ~news~ about the Melbourne lockdown today, I decided to reach out to a few mates to see how the isolation has affected them. The results are in and it-fucken-sucked.
“I think it’s been really difficult to maintain a sense of self because we are so used to defining ourselves by the way we behave/feel around others and we are cut off from that regular connection you re-evaluate who you are as an individual (I feel).
“Also if you’re out of work (which I am), it’s hard to feel a sense of purpose because I’m used to my value being determined by my work/productivity but I’ve had endless days to fill and try to make meaning from.”
“At first, I felt like everyone finally understood what an isolating experience it can be living with disability and chronic illness, dealing with daily confinement.
“Now, I feel burnt out, like everyone else.”
“I compared myself to people on social media, looking at everything they’re doing and with seeing why I’m not doing that. I’ve lost control over a lot, lockdown takes away a lot of the things I need to thrive so I feel lost in terms of my purpose.”
“My self esteem has been worse. I feel like when it’s just you looking into a mirror you tend to feel worse about yourself and your image. Especially because of lockdown weight and not exercising because you feel extra burnt out.”
“The Melbourne lockdown and navigating rules have been a challenge, but it has ultimately what has kept my loved ones, my community, safe. I would have more worries had we not taken the relevant precautions. I now only worry for our health care system, with the prediction of rising cases. I think more people should consider this, above their desire to get things back to ‘normal.’”
“I think a really hard part for myself personally has been that my extended family all live overseas so I haven’t been able to see them in almost two years and certain family members even longer.”
“I feel flat almost always, I feel like I’m more irritable and sensitive emotionally, like small things that shouldn’t matter really anger and upset me.
“I am also extremely resentful towards the federal government as this was preventable, I feel like we’re no longer a country but a bunch of states that are bitter towards each other. I feel like I have more social anxiety than before and am just hoping it goes away with time.”
“I’ve felt the most anxious I’ve ever felt in my life after a 10 day isolation period from being a close contact, and it’s only started to ease now that there is an end in sight.”
The thing about being in such a long lockdown, is that emotions creep up on you without you realising.
It’s that feeling of not being able to get up in the morning like you used to, feeling in a bad mood for no reason and overthinking the smallest things. It’s obsessing over something a little much, like always checking the COVID daily case numbers, or worrying too much when someone doesn’t text you back. It’s not having the energy to cook, clean or even help others when you really want to.
It feels like you have a headache, your stomach is in knots, and your heart is racing, every single day.
That’s what it feels like after 246 days in Melbourne’s lockdown (and counting). It’s just something we’ve had to live with.
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.Image: Getty Images / Darrian Traynor