opinion

'I've been stuck in Melbourne lockdown for over 6 months. Coming out of it fills me with dread.'

By now you’ve probably read the stories of a divided Melbourne, or a united one, depending on which side of politics you lean to. 

You’ve heard how hard it’s been for the citizens of Melbourne, and the businesses, and the front-line workers. What you may not have heard yet, but I feel a burning desire to tell you all living in our sister states and territories, is the deep state of anxiety we face now and in the coming months here in Melbourne.

You’ve all seen the roadmap too - the ‘roadmap to nowhere’. But the roadmap to most of us is a slow and safe tunnel to a semi-normal existence. Regardless of what stance we have as individuals and essentially what rate of mortality we accept from the coronavirus, anxiety is pulsing through our veins, keeping our hearts racing and our heads full of somewhat toxic streams of consciousness. 

Watch: When Daniel Andrews extended lockdown. Post continues below.


Video via Sky News

You see, we have been isolated for months on different scales, from our friends, our families, our jobs and our lives. Everything has been put on hold, and by this eleventh week of Stage 4 lockdown, I have simply given up on anything except for the hope it doesn’t happen again.

This year was meant to be something different for me. I was going to get married. My business was going to take off after three months of operating. I was meant to spend more time with the ones I love but it’s all been taken away. And for some, as we know, it’s been so much worse than that. 

Being surrounded by job loss and death tolls every day, the dread of daily conferences and the slew of all types of misinformation that follows has gotten to me and to most people I know. If I see someone breaking restrictions I bubble over almost instantly with anger and resentment. If I see lockdown protesters I panic almost immediately. 

But what I’m most scared of is that the resentment and anxiety I’ve been holding onto isn’t going to dissipate. And yes, those feelings extend all the way to you, in other states too. 

Because while you’ve been holidaying again, seeing friends and family, celebrating love and life and happiness, I’ve been watching from the silence of my four walls. I watch your stories and wince at the bullshit of it all. 

I wince every time one of you says anything remotely political about our city without any facts or education. I wince mostly when the phone rings from one of you, or even more when it doesn’t. Because if you call I have nothing to talk about and I am sad and you won’t really ever get it. 

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But if you don’t call and check on me I get mad too and I feel like you’ve forgotten me. I know that’s not fair on you but the reality of being isolated for almost six months makes you have tunnel vision.

I have deep anxiety about what our future looks like in Melbourne. Will the beauty of hospitality survive in our city? What will Christmas be like? 

When will I travel to see my family in Queensland? Do I even want to? If I do travel, can I withstand the never-ending jokes from people about us leper Melburnians? Will we be back in a lockdown? Will these ‘freedom fighters’ create clusters and all our hard work will be for nothing? 

We came out of this once and then went right back in. My suburb was an ‘early hotspot’ so I went back into lockdown on July 2, for context. So forgive me if I don’t have full confidence that it won’t happen again. And forgive me for my anger coming out of this towards pretty much everyone in Australia who isn’t from Melbourne. 

When I think about what next year looks like, I simply don’t care anymore. Getting through this week of work and then attempting to reconcile the guilt that I have for even keeping my job is where I’m at. 

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. In this episode, we discuss what lockdown is doing to our kids. Post continues below.

The people I’ve shared my lockdown with are literally the most important people to me because we have this strange bond of being so connected that it is truly like a family has formed. We share the same dread to go back to life where I catch public transport, or go for a walk without a mask on my face, because maybe once we start experiencing those things again, they will be taken away?

I hope this anxiety and resentment is forgotten soon and I hope that the saying ‘old habits die hard' is true. I hope that at some point in summer I can sit outside, and meet my friends' new babies, or even better, meet my nephew in WA somehow. I hope I can go to a wine bar with my fiancé and dream about planning another wedding, and then, of course, tip the waiter excessively even though we can’t afford it. 

I hope we don’t feel afraid to jump on a tram to visit friends in a neighbouring suburb, plate of food in hand. I hope I catch up with my friends after we’ve BOTH worked a long day. But right now, I can’t see it, and I don’t believe it.

So next time you talk to a Melburnian, be nice. Because while I can’t speak for everyone, I think most of us are all a little f**king terrified.

Tiarnie Gilbert is a 28-year-old from rural Queensland, now a proud Melburnian for the past eight years writer who generally covers topics such as ethical fashion. However, she has been in isolation for so long now she's writing more personal pieces to stay as sane as she can.

Feature image: Getty.

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