For four long weeks I have only left my house for groceries, walks and one visit to the doctor.
For four long weeks I have followed the rules, as has everyone at my workplace and in my orbit.
For four long weeks I have covered the current COVID-19 crisis in Australia for Mamamia from my Sydney apartment; digesting the numbers, the fear, the desperation and the confusion in the hope of keeping our readers up to date. To help them feel seen. To make sure they feel supported.
As a news journalist, it's part of my job to compartmentalise my work from my reality. To do my best to switch off at the end of the day from the stream of COVID updates I've spent hours pouring over so I am ready to tackle them again in the morning. I am sent angry emails and direct messages, often, for writing about vaccinations and lockdowns from people who tell me I am a 'sheep' or I am being 'paid by the government' or I am 'a useless, uninformed journalist.'
I was able to brush it off.
I was staying afloat.
I was following the rules.
But this weekend broke me.
I felt an unbridled anger and an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia as the bricks I have built around me to protect my mental health and sanity came tumbling down.
It was seeing thousands of people, Australians, marching the streets in Sydney and Melbourne a day after a national emergency was declared. It was hearing about the death of a woman just eight years older than me who said her goodbyes through a screen from a Sydney hospital bed. It was hearing that the numbers were higher than ever, 163 on Saturday and 141 on Sunday.
The culmination of it all broke me. And I know I am not the only one.