What Melbourne lockdown is actually like – August 2020

The world seems to be suffering from the same thing but in so many different ways. And this largely depends on where you are.

My friends in Europe are experiencing a wonderful summer, filled with flowers and friends. Some of my friends in the United States and faced with big political discussions and movements. Others are unaffected and continuing on with their lives.

I’m in Melbourne and all I can talk about is what this experience is like.

Metropolitan Melbourne is currently moving into our third week in stage 4 lockdown. This is following two separate times of stage 3 lockdown. What does stage 4 mean?

It means that I’m living at home with my mum, unable to work unless it’s the online yoga classes that I teach. Which, to be honest, are keeping me sane.

It means that we’re only allowed to exercise once a day outside for one hour. This is only a walk or a jog with one other person.

We’re not allowed to be outside a 5km radius of the address listed on our licence unless it’s for work or caregiving/receiving care. If we are, we have to provide proof of our work or care needs. There are police patrolling highways and streets enforcing this.

This means that if your friends or family are further than 5kms from you, you can’t see them.

There’s a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am in which no one is allowed to be outside unless it’s for work.

We always have to wear a mask. Unless you’re running.

If we are caught without a mask, it’s a $200 fine. If there are any other rules breached, it’s a $1600 fine.

Melbourne has at least three more weeks of this stage 4 lockdown.

I think anyone living outside of Melbourne right now, won’t quite understand how this feels. It’s a consuming feeling every day to be in. It’s this constant nagging we have in our minds of “but I can’t do that”. We can’t see our friends. We can’t see anyone actually since we are always in a mask. And that’s stressful. There’s fear. So much fear. About being caught. About when it will lift and the uncertainty of everything. And there’s fear around our mental health.

I have a lot of friends in the spiritual community and I’ve found it really hard to talk to a lot of them about this. A term that has been introduced in the 1980s by John Welwood, but has gained more attention now, is “spiritual bypassing“. This is when “spiritual ideas and practices are used to side-step trauma and emotional stress.”

A lot, and I mean a lot, of people I know are convinced that COVID-19 is created by the government as a means of control or is all because of 5G towers or something else. What I’ve learnt from this, is that those kinds of things are not helpful right now. Whether they are true or not, the fact is that I can’t leave my house, no matter what I believe.

If the government is doing all of this, what can I do? Go out without a mask and not only be vulnerable to abuse (which I have been witness to) but also get hundreds of dollars in fines?

Spiritual bypassing and gaslighting are becoming the source of trauma for mental health. It’s not allowing us the space to feel and express how messed up this whole thing is. Never before have we been made to stay inside like this.

And I think unless you’re in Melbourne, or another city which has experienced a stage 4 lockdown, you won’t know what it’s like.

It makes work, any type of work, really hard to do. Because some days it’s hard enough to shower, or eat, or do the few hours of work if you have even that. Some of my friends aren’t able to work at all. It’s really hard some days to reach out to a friend and tell them how truly shitty you feel, in fear that they will also feel shit, or bypass your feelings. Human connection has completely been stripped away from us.

So if you’re in a country not experiencing these types of lockdowns, please, please reach out to your friends that are. We need you. And we need you to not tell us that “it will all get better” or “just stay strong” or “you’ll be alright if you just get out more/do something/work on yourself.” We need you to ask us, honestly, how we’re actually feeling. Provide a space for us in which we can openly and honestly express our fears, as crazy as they might be, and we need you to tell us that what we’re feeling is valid! Because we don’t know how to handle this any other way than by sometimes just doing the bare-bloody-minimum.

I want to also give huge thanks, virtual hugs and love to a few people who have been able to do this for me during this time. Olive, Hannah, Kalem, Mo and Mitch.

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