On Thursday night I attended a face to face VCE orientation at my son’s school. The principal stood up and began his speech by saying “the best thing about being back at school is being back at school”. Little did we know that by Friday lunch time we would have yet another lockdown announcement.
Since the announcement and the commencement of this “short, sharp” lockdown all I have heard from people is that their anxiety levels were heightened instantly. Many have reported feeling their hearts racing, having flash backs and a sense of dread. The same organisations that called in haste in 2020 came seeking help again to support their people. The trauma experienced by Victorians is underestimated and so very real.
The uncertainty and fear that this lockdown will not only be for 5 days is unfortunately at the forefront of everyone’s minds which impacts substantially on our mental health and wellbeing.
Regardless of one’s political views, whether they’re in support of a lockdown, or anger and desperation from small business owners- everyone is affected. For the first time in my career as a psychologist even I am questioning how can we support people where the trauma from last year is cumulative, where every time we think we may be starting to heal, the healing process is halted in such a sudden way. It’s the nature of grief and loss that time will start to heal- yet in the case of the pandemic the hits keep coming and the natural path of recovery gets interrupted. This only adds to the despair that people are feeling.
The collective grief felt by Victorians and the uncertainty with which we live, powerless and fearful, is likely to continue until this pandemic rides itself out or until the vaccine is rolled out. The hope that we try and instill in people can therefore only come from our collective coping mechanisms. The old cliche “we are all in this together” can only ring true if we have the empathy and compassion to stand in our neighbour’s shoes. It’s a skill unfortunately lacking in so many leaders regardless of the sector.
How quickly have we forgotten some of those positive lessons from the last lockdown, returning to our old ways has been a natural progression in the last few months and the stories of hope and kindness dwindled. Perhaps this lockdown – and I hope it is only 5 days! – is about focusing on drawing strength from others, by supporting others and small business, choosing kindness and pausing today with our neighbour in mind prior to choosing how we behave.
Take care of yourself and others,
Co-Director, Transitioning Well