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"I was in social isolation for two weeks. Here's how I spent it."

About five days into our self quarantine, I walked into the living room after having a shower.

“How was your shower??” my partner Luca asked with genuine curiosity, pivoting his body as to express full interest in my response.

And that’s when I realised how dire the situation had become. Things had deteriorated faster than expected.

After a trip to Japan, which we cut short because of a State of Emergency being declared in Hokkaido, we made the decision along with our workplace to self quarantine for 14 days.

All your questions about COVID-19, answered. Post continues below. 

For many Australians, a period of self isolation is just beginning. There are existential concerns about the fate of the world, the health of our loves ones, an economic recession etc. which are all very valid and covered extensively by just about every media organisation on the planet right now.

But I am here today to tell you, candidly, exactly what it’s like being in self quarantine for two weeks.

Ahem.

The first five days will be a novelty.

You’ll eat too much because no matter where in your house/apartment you sit the cupboard is right there and I’m not hungry but I’m also not not hungry and now the Doritos are gone and didn’t we buy chocolate also. 

No one in pandemic movies tells you about the constant grazing. Or the moment where your partner/child says, “Hey, I thought we bought…”

“Yeah we did it got eaten.”

Cool.

You will also be – and I cannot stress this enough – far too ambitious. 

Plans will be made to write an entire book. Or screenplay! Already people are sharing stories about how during the plague Shakespeare wrote King Lear and some other guy invented some other thing and no one is inventing shit, understood? The more time we have the more time we waste, that should be your mantra for the next few weeks. 

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Try to get things done by all means. You do you. But just know you WILL improvise new and impressive ways to procrastinate, including but not limited to: making up dances to perform to your pets, looking in the cupboard, living on Instagram, discovering Tik Tok, plucking eyebrows four times a day, asking your pets for their star sign so you can analyse their personality, looking out a window and then cleaning that window etc. etc.

If you’re not working, which I wasn’t for the first week, then you’ll get creative with ways to pass the time.

For example, I recommend trying to pick fights with your partner to keep things interesting. Questions like, “So, what do you really think of your mum anyway?” work every time, or even, “Hey, do you do that annoying thing with your face on purpose? Or no?”

If you stop fighting after a few hours, then I suggest reacting irrationally to completely normal scenarios.

For example, given you’re living in close quarters, chances are someone will step on your toe. Which is annoying. And surprisingly painful. In such a case, yell “OI YOU WANNA FIGHT” and watch things escalate.

 

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This is us just over two weeks ago, on our way home from Japan. We had to cut our trip short and spend the last two weeks in social isolation. Here were some of our favourite activities….. ⠀⠀⠀⠀ – Trying to pick fights with each other to keep things interesting. For eg. “Hey Luca what do you REALLY think of your mum…” etc. – Purposely stepping on each other’s toes while walking past and then yelling “OI YOU WANNA FIGHT”. – At 5:30pm everyday Luca pulled his (pyjama) pants up under his arms and danced to weird jazz music. – I choreographed dance routines to Luca’s X-Box music and then performed them to the dogs. – Watched Air Crash Investigation to remind ourselves that it’s not just coronavirus we ought to be anxious about. Planes crash too! – Read every story that exists on the internet about coronavirus and called my family/friends to let them know that the government ought to be doing more and that shit was about to get real. Kept getting messages from Mum telling me that I must stop scaring everyone. – Comfort ate constantly. – Ready to re-enter the world just as the rest of Australia goes into some sort of lockdown. What a time to be alive!

A post shared by Jessie Stephens (@jessiestephens90) on

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Eventually, you’ll want to establish some sort of routine. When we started working from home, my partner would turn on some radio he found which played exclusively jazz music, at 5:30pm everyday. He would then pull his pyjama pants up under his arms and dance in such a way as to scare the dogs. That would entertain us for at least 15 minutes every evening, and really lifted our spirits.

But now onto the most important point.

What do you watch on the television?

Well. Married at First Sight obviously. But also great shows such as Air Crash Investigation which are very good at reminding us that there are other things to be anxious about too. Not just coronavirus!

Anything true crime is great escapism too. Nothing like falling asleep listening to your murders to put your mind at ease about the current state of the world.

Once the 14 days were up, spent cooking and writing (nah I seriously got stuck into writing my book tho) and watching more TV than usual and reading a bunch of really good books, we looked at each other and said, “That wasn’t so bad.”

Over the next few days, weeks or months, we will surprise ourselves with how quickly we adapt to a new normal. And where we find joy.

Things are scary and uncertain. We need to listen to expert advice. But we mustn’t forget, that inside homes all over the world right now are moments of laughter.

And there’s no harm in holding on to those moments as tight as we can.

For more:

“If I have a bed for you.” Why thousands of Australians are sharing an intensive care specialist’s message.

What we can all learn from South Korea’s ‘super spreader’ of coronavirus, Patient 31.

What you need to know about COVID-19 today, Monday March 16.

Mamamia acknowledges that there are men and women for whom isolating with their partner or family is dangerous. 

If you or someone you care about is living with family violence please call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

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