Life is back to normal (whatever that means anyway). I went to actual shops with actual people in them and bought things and didn’t have to wait to have them delivered. It was, well, so 2019, except for the face masks and the checking in.
When I’m back out in the world, I wonder if the last two years actually happened. Everything is just like we left it and everyone seems to have picked up where they left off. It’s a bit disconcerting actually, I’ve feel like I’ve changed so much but the world seems too have stayed the same.
I’ve seen a few friends since lockdown finished and most seem to say the same thing, they thought they were ok but they weren’t. And it’s only in going out and doing normal things that they realise how very not ok they were; how much we all missed people, and a sense of freedom.
We spent much of the last two years in survival mode; telling ourselves we are ok because we needed to be, we accepted all the hardships for the sake keeping each other safe and surviving the pandemic. Now lockdown has ended and we are not in survival mode anymore, we realise the necessity of all the things we were forced give up. Life was not just meant to be a series of endless days but a thing that is sustained and indeed nourished by people and things that bring us joy.
Lockdown 6 was devoid of joy. It felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, just relentless, monotonous days. The things that had got me through the previous lockdowns no longer helped. I knew I had reached the end of my rope when I started thinking that if I had to go for a walk in my area one more time I’d lose it.
Admittedly, I’ve had a few medical issues but my brain has felt on fire now for a while. It’s funny how in my last post I said I’d been ok but the last few weeks of lockdown and reopening, I’ve been distinctly not ok. There’s just been too much change to absorb and too much isolation to absorb it in. As a classic over thinker, this combination has been really damaging in the end.
If there is one good thing to come out the pandemic, it’s the recognition that I don’t want to live like this anymore. I want something else; I want to embrace the future and live fully in God’s grace. And if I want to do that I need to remove the barriers that are getting in the way. I’m pretty proud that I’ve taken myself off to a counsellor to work through all this, and miracle of miracles got into see one before I could talk myself out of it.
Counselling has been a revelation; I’ve found words for experiences I didn’t have before, I’m digging deep into my past; my thoughts, my feelings, so they are not part of my future anymore. It’s a blessing that sometimes doesn’t feel like one; it is often confronting, I feel both elated and like I’ve been beaten up at the end of the session. As hard as it is, it is the pathway through.
In a few weeks Victoria will reach 90% vaccination rate and there will be even less restrictions. This is a good thing for everyone. We need a nice summer and some return to normality to help ease the burden of the last two years. I’ve got plans to go to shows, concerts and the ballet before Christmas. I might even get to see colleagues and friends before the end of the year.
Melbournians have been through so much, and while the pandemic is still with us, we can safely move forward in 2022 with a little bit of hopefulness about the year ahead. This does not erase what we have been through or give back the two years of our lives that have been lost. Although maybe it makes us value all the things we will get to do and perhaps took for granted in pre-pandemic times just a little bit more.
So, to my hometown of Melbourne and to her resilient and community-minded residents, I say thank you, we did this because we care about each other and that IS something to celebrate. Oh, and I’ll see you soon. I’m going to dance, laugh and clap all the harder because of our time apart. I’m going to walk your streets, eat at restaurants, see a play and revel in the joy you bring me.
Go well friends, be safe, look out those around you. I’ll be praying for joyful things in your lives and new starts for us all in 2022.
For mental health support contact Beyond Blue – https://www.beyondblue.org.au or Lifeline – https://www.lifeline.org.au