real life

Lockdown has destroyed countless livelihoods. But these are the women who don't want it to end.

The women in this story are known to Mamamia but all names have been changed for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

Nothing can take away from the hardships coronavirus has put many Australians through over the past few months.

The day-to-day reality we’re used to has been turned upside down, 90 lives are being grieved and livelihoods across the country have been decimated as our economy faces a devastating blow.

But as Australia starts to come out the other side and restrictions begin to ease, for some men and women, a different type of panic is starting to set in.

Because, as guilty as it makes them feel, lockdown has had a positive impact on their lives.

WATCH: MM Confessions: What we do when we’re home alone. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

Humans are creatures of habit.

We fear change, and coronavirus has been the biggest ‘change’ many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. In those first few weeks, the fear and anxiety was palpable. We were fighting an invisible enemy – one that was threatening our health, our income and our relationships. We were told to stay home to stop the spread, we saw how the virus was ravaging China, Iran and Italy, so we did.

It was hard at first, but for some, there were significant advantages to being at home.

When Molly heard last week that restrictions in her state were about to be relaxed, her first feeling was slight panic. “I’ve spent seven weeks getting used to this weird little bubble and making it my own, and I’ve got to the point where I’m weirdly enjoying it,” she told Mamamia.

She’s not the only one. Lockdown has changed Krisha in the same way travelling solo did. “The freedom you find when travelling with no end date creates an unexplainable freedom you feel within,” she said.

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“I’m in a mentally strong state of mind and the idea of going back to ‘normal life’ scares the hell out of me. Because what’s ‘old’ will actually be the ‘new unknown’. Once again I will need to adapt to a new yet familiar reality,” she added.

The whole idea of changing routine (again) is so stressful for Grace, she will be asking to continue working from home for a little while if her workplace goes back to the office anytime soon.

“I’ve only just sorted out what life looks like during lockdown and have got into a good place with managing my mental health in this new situation. The thought of another major change is daunting,” she said.

woman reading book
The idea of having to go back outside is just too much for some of the women Mamamia spoke to. Image: Getty.

For some introverts, unsurprisingly, isolation has come with a sense of relief.

"The truth is I have really enjoyed it. I am a homebody," said Sally.

"Now I have to go back to making up excuses to not go out and see people," added Ruth, with Lily mirroring the sentiment admitting to Mamamia she is feeling anxious about the imminent expectations to be super social and "do all of the things."

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For some, isolation has proven to be an unexpected epiphany to another way of life.

"There is a person in my life who expects a lot from me. Before lockdown I would often feel drained by their presence and their tendency to make every comment and observation about them. I have always thought it was a somewhat ‘normal’ relationship, but lockdown has made me realise it was very dependent on me carefully tip-toeing around their emotions and reactions," Claire told Mamamia.

"For the first time in years, I have been able to get in a relaxing morning walk, eat breakfast without choking myself trying to swallow it whole and I've been spending [what would be] my 2.5 hour commute doing things I love. I am terrified of losing it all," said Anastasia.

For Shannon, slowing down has made her reassess what she actually in enjoys in life.

"I hadn't realised how much all the running around kept me anxious and feeling like I couldn't afford to take a break because our schedule would come tumbling down," she explained. "When we are able to return to normal I'll be thinking twice about doing things that don't really bring me that much joy."

We've heard a lot from the parents climbing the walls right now. From home-schooling struggles, to toddlers not being able to exert enough energy to get them tired before bedtime, to the guilt of hours upon hours of screen time.

But for Ada, parenting in isolation has made her mother's guilt almost completely vanish.

"I'm participating so much more in my daughter's life and I'm there every morning when she wakes up, it's been really nice," she said. Before 'iso', Ada would slip out for work before her five-year-old had even stirred. She's not ready to give up breakfast with her kid.

Portrait of happy little girl with smartphone in the kitchen
Some families are absolutely loving isolation. They're dreading when it ends. Image: Getty.
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Janelle is secretly loving not having to spend Saturday running around to children's sport, and Lisa says she and the kids are "flourishing spending so much time together."

After a bout of post natal depression 18 months ago, Jemma was still getting 'pangs' of literal pain in the stomach when her daughter cried in the night. But six weeks in isolation has allowed her to fall madly in love with her baby. She can handle the meltdowns now - and she's finally found her rhythm. What if the outside world derails that?

For Tina who is 33 weeks pregnant, social isolation has meant her difficult mother-in-law has had to keep her distance. Before isolation she was worrying about having her burst into the delivery suite while she was pushing (which is what happened to her sister-in-law). Now, she's sleeping soundly knowing hospital visitor restrictions are likely to be among the last lifted.

For Rose, working from home while pregnant has made her feel "safer," and for Olivia with a newborn, the restrictions have allowed her and her husband to just envelop themselves in the "baby bubble" without the added stress of visitors wanting a kiss when they hadn't been vaccinated, which was something she was dreading having to enforce.

Some of the women Mamamia spoke to said their relationships have never been better. Kate spoke to her entire extended family on Zoom on a Saturday night. That's never happened before, and she's not sure everyone's schedules will ever naturally align again when we return to normal life.

Ashleigh says it has given her and her husband time to reconnect.

Preparing Breakfast
Some are finding their relationships are thriving in isolation, and they're not ready to let that go. Image: Getty.
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"In pre-lockdown we were just rushing from one thing to the next - work, home, make dinner, clean up, go to bed - and our weekends were busy visiting other people. I actually think it has been great for our relationship to slow down. I'm going to be sad when it's over," she said.

Trinny, who is single, is more worried that now she'll have to go on dates with the men she's been flirting with online for seven weeks.

"I have six digital boyfriends right now. I'm exhausted at the thought of physically dating," she explained.

It's funny that in a world of 'isolation,' many of us have never felt more connected. We're chatting more, reaching out more, and finding more time for each other. Molly is going to miss settling in on a Friday night for a massive chin-wag with her mum over the phone. It had turned into a nice ritual, one she didn't have time for pre-iso.

While it's the small things some people will miss - like being able to spend all day with their dog, or finally having enough time to properly exercise - for others the idea of resuming reality is truly terrifying.

One thing they have in common though, is that they feel guilty for secretly enjoying something so terrible.

Feature image: Getty.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It's okay to feel this way, but it's also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus - How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

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