opinion

Why lockdowns feel different in 2021.

Lockdowns a year into a pandemic are a different kind of hard. 

When the virus first reached our shores in early 2020, lockdown was a terrifying new experience that we had no rule book for.

It was novel, almost, amongst the fear. 

That was until Australians started getting sick, job losses increased, the realities of home schooling sunk in, the locked borders dragged on and the mass migration to TikTok got old.

But lockdown in 2021 is different. 

Watch: A big thank you to masks...post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

It's easier because we're creatures of habit. We know what to do and how to set up our homes and our social lives amongst the parameters. More walks in the fresh air. More phone calls. Less watching the rolling news coverage.

But forced solitude feels angrier this year. More divided. More hopeless. More frustrating. 

In this yo-yo world, just as life starts to resemble a version of normal - with weddings re-planned, restaurants fully booked and holidays re-scheduled, it all comes tumbling back down. Suddenly, we're sent back inside our homes. Of course, this time there's no JobKeeper, leaving many Australians treading water without any support. 

It's the false hope. It's the false starts. 

Lily is frustrated because she's not eligible for a vaccine. She's too young, she tells Mamamia. 

Kristy is a teacher and not considered 'essential' enough to be at the front of the queue. She feels forgotten, and tired of being treated like a babysitter.  

For others, it's the exhaustion of being worn down, one disappointing cancellation after another. A war of attrition on our social lives again and again and again. 

It's feeling guilty for even complaining about something like a birthday party. It's having to caveat every complaint with, 'but I am healthy and safe so it's okay,' so as not to appear ungrateful. 

It's envy. The rest of the world is starting to learn how to live with this virus. They're talking about vaccine passports and European holidays, while we're down here on our island nation wondering if we'll ever be reunited with our friends, relatives and lovers abroad. 

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"I was beginning to believe that open borders may not be that far away. But this feels like a reset. For people like me who have pretty much their entire family overseas, it's not the lockdown itself that affects me, it's the reminder that meeting loved ones is a really distant dream," Meghna tells Mamamia. 

Emma is single this lockdown. So for her, it feels lonelier.

Eleanor is loved up this time, so for her it feels a tad easier. 

Last year Susannah was in her family home, passing dinners through the fence of her grandparent's retirement village and spending nights curled up on the couch beside her people. Now she's in another state, closer to the virus than she's ever been, and experiencing lockdown through brand new eyes.

Victorians, all of them, have a shared trauma only they can articulate. 

Small business owners are in a unique type of pain. 

But there's only so many times we can do this. There's only so much our psyche and bank balances can take. Lockdown feels different because we're exhausted. It's too familiar and recurring and there's no end date. 

We are living in a pandemic, an emergency, a global health disaster.... and yet it's become monotonously, frustratingly normal.

That is why lockdown feels more hopeless this year. We keep being flicked back to the start of the board game. Back to square one. 

How does lockdown feel harder for you in 2021? Let us know in the comments below.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. 

Feature image: Getty.

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