Entering our fifth Victorian lockdown, our surge capacity is completely depleted and we’re not okay

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Entering our fifth Victorian lockdown, our surge capacity is completely depleted and we’re not okay

I've been pretty patient throughout Victoria's lockdown. But this one is breaking me.

I can’t speak for every Victorian, but this latest snap lockdown has absolutely steamrolled me.

Life was good, or at least on its way to getting better. Live music was back, festivals were happening, movies were hitting the big screen, and we could knock back some Mario Karts on Lambys dancefloor. Crowds returned to stadiums, we could wine and dine for more than two hours with as many mates as we pleased, we could celebrate our bestie’s wedding, we could hold our new nephew, we could leave the house without worrying about an invisible 5km bubble.

Life was good; we’d moved on – well as much as we could from the previous lockdown just weeks prior.

But, just like a toxic ex, we’ve been sucked back into a place we’d thought was in our past.

The anxious wait for the daily numbers, the obsessive checking of exposure sites, the cancelled events, the daily pressers, holidays postponed, Dan Andrews – it’s all back. The all-consuming drudgery and uncertainty that was but a distant memory have returned.

We’ve been through it all before, but now we are entering our THIRD lockdown since last year when the entire state — and Melbourne in particular — spent many months with a variety of harsh restrictions.

With a climbing number of active coronavirus cases and hundreds of exposure sites, including sports arenas and crowded bars, we’ve been told a five-day “circuit breaker” lockdown is needed.

We’ve already copped a five-day lockdown earlier this year around Valentine’s Day, and a seven-day one back in May, and we know that if things go the wrong way, we could be in for a long haul.
Yes, we’ve done it before, but this one just hits different. We are no longer living in unprecedented times.

The wounds from last year’s lockdowns are still raw. The novelty has well and truly worn off.

The staying in and learning to bake, selfie-taking, going for runs, the puzzles, zoom catch-ups and everything else that’s become synonymous with coping in lockdown has lost its appeal. Well and truly.

We’re over it, we’re burnt out, and this time there are no JobKeeper payments either, putting extra pressure on already struggling businesses, many who were literally just getting back on their feet from the last lockdown.

Pick up the phone, these Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast restaurants and cafes are doing takeaway for the next week.

We spoke about Surge Capacity last year; which is described as ‘a collection of adaptive systems, both mental and physical, that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.’

This ‘surge capacity’ only allows us to adapt to major disasters if they are temporary, however, with the pandemic, the disaster stretches out and has created a kind of uncertainty none of us is used to… and it’s an uncertainty that feels indefinite. (There’s a great discussion about it on the Shameless podcast.

Essentially, everyone’s feeling like there’s no end in sight. And because this is going on and on, our ‘surge capacity’ is completely exhausted and it needs to be renewed.

Now we talked about this back in August last year. It is now JULY. Almost an entire year later, and here we are. In lockdown. Again. Still treading water. Our bodies aren’t designed to be under stress long-term, but here we are, living each day that blurs into the next, with little structure to separate the mornings from the middays to the evenings.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying my surge capacity is completely and utterly depleted. It’s kind of like when you’ve run out of shampoo and you’ve squeezed every little bit out of the bottle… and then you add water to try and get some more, but nothing comes out. That’s me right now. Crushed and empty.

While there’s a lot of good reasons to be optimistic; it’s okay to feel like you can’t be right now. It’s okay if you are feeling upset, anxious or frustrated. It’s okay if there are some days you wake up and want to cry before 8am.

For many of us, we’ve lived through this pandemic with undeniable privilege. We’ve not lost anyone, we have a roof over our heads, this is not lost on me. I am eternally grateful to be in a position of being able to work and being surrounded by friends and family, and I am heartbroken for all those who don’t know when the next paycheck will come. I am heartbroken for those who need to cancel their children’s birthday, their weddings, funerals.

But it’s so important to remember that it doesn’t make my feelings any less valid. And it certainly doesn’t make yours any less valid.

To those struggling, I see you. I feel you. The sole purpose of this article is simply to reassure you that you’re not alone.

While lockdowns fucking suck, I’m not here to place blame, or call out the government, or protest about the state’s response. Quite frankly, I get it. I understand the ‘why’, and I will do my part and stay home like I have for the past 18 months, work from my loungeroom and take part in Zoom trivia and order takeaway from local restaurants (very important right now), but it doesn’t mean I’m okay about it.

That appreciation doesn’t make the lonely claustrophobia of lockdown any easier.

And that’s okay.

So, if you can muster up the energy to go for daily walks, partake in virtual drinks, clean out your wardrobe and cook a three-course feast, do it.

But if this time feels tough and has you, quite frankly, feeling like shit, then that’s okay. This lockdown isn’t the same as the one we had 18 months ago, not by a long shot, so don’t hold it to the same standard.

Forget baking banana bread, take that nap if that’s what you need to do, and focus on maintaining and strengthening important relationships, connecting with those within your support network. Focus on the things that you can control, take a break from the news and media, and know, there is support available if it all gets a bit much.

Overloading your psychological resources with pressure because of ideas on what you ‘should’ be doing in undue in a time where you are living through an emotionally taxing event like lockdown.

It’s time to expect less from ourselves, simply just waking up and showing up for the day is enough.

So, for the next five days – and beyond – be kind to yourself and know that being good enough isn’t conditional. You just ‘are’.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please call: