Guest writer: Casey Melbourne, Australia
Coming at you live from Melbourne, Australia with a good ole fashion quarantine update!
I’m currently on day 11 of not leaving my house. On March 11th I went over to New Zealand with plans to stay until the 31st. Covid-19 decided to rear its nasty head and say “nah.”
So on March 16th I bought a brand new flight home after an exhaustive hours of unsuccessful attempts try to reach a representative of Air New Zealand to fix my flight. I flew home on March 17th. Two days later Australia shut its borders to all foreigners…so I’m grateful for coming home when I did.
My return flight did have one stipulation. Upon reentry to Australia, I must self isolate for 14 days. According to the government site that listed the guidelines of this isolation, I am not allowed to leave, if I live with others they may still follow their routine unless they begin to show symptoms, and I must not have physical contact with those that I live with.
Considering my house consists of 2 small bedrooms, 1 shared bathroom, and an open lounge/dining/kitchen space it is very hard to stay away from Dom and Lucas. Myself, and the boys, have shown no signs of illness since my return and have all agreed they are now more likely to give it to me since they were continuing to work in their respective offices, grocery shop, and generally be around people.
As I mentioned, my house is quite small. And for 10 days I have not wandered outside it’s walls besides stepping out the front to put trash in the bins, grab mail, or go out back to hang our laundry or enjoy the solitude of our small, 4 walled backyard. No runs, no walks, no lounging in the grass at the nearby park. It’s hard. But, Australia has announced a $20,000AUD fine could be given to anyone breaking isolation. As far as I know, this is more form those that have been tested and them told to isolate. But Lucas worries and prefers we take no risks. So for 4 more days, I stay inside my house and do what I can to keep sane.
Now, 4 more days is what I have in my 2 week isolation period. Everyday the reality becomes more clear that this is going to last much longer than that. Everyday I hope that Scott Morrison (PM) does not announced a more widespread ban that includes individuals from continuing walks and outdoor exercise. I know that we need to stay inside and I will continue to isolate after my time is up, but my legs are itching for a long walk. I want to take a jog by the river and feel the wind on my face. It’s very hard living in the same walls even though I have many comforts within my reach.
My days have been good and they have been bad. I have felt optimism and hopelessness. I consider myself to me a very level headed gal, generally unaffected my anxiety or depression. But within the past 10 days I have experienced more emotions than I am accustomed to. I believe I had my first panic attack possibly ever??? Or maybe my chest has just never felt so tight and heavy. If it was a panic attack it was a slow burn. It’s been odd to feel these negative emotions on such a physical level. They aren’t just mental. My body has been tireless, heavy, lethargic, sore on some of the cloudy days. It’s shaken me to the core to feel things so intensely. It’s been a while since I’ve gone through such a range of emotions like this. Oddly the last time was the same time of year 3 years ago when my sister passed.
The bad days can be dark but it doesn’t last. And I’m thankful. I have had days of energy, hope, and drive. I’m a notoriously slow reader, but I’ve dedicated 2 days and finished one book in each of those days. Completely enthralled in living someone else’s life for a bit. Watching a story play out in my mind and flicking through the pages with a hunger. Sadly though, the libraries are closed and I don’t have many books at reach. I love the feel of a book in my hands rather than a screen in my face where I’m forced to flip pages virtually. Also, the cost of a free library versus a $10 ebook speaks for itself. On a normal day I’d love to support the author. But 2 days ago I found out I lost my job.
Day 8 of isolation, the travel industry is at a major low and my company continued to make cuts. I had outlasted over 60 other agents. Our team kept dwindling until there were 7 of us left. It felt great knowing that I was good enough employee to be one of the last 7 standing. I thought I’d be safe for a little while. Sadly, the company decided they had to make 33% cut to all staff and ask all remaining employees to take 10%-30% pay cuts to keep the company afloat. It is what it is. These are trying times. Unprecedented measures taken by my company. This company. That company. The world.
I’m upset because I actually love to work. I love a schedule. In fact, I thrive on having a schedule. It keeps me sane. I have almost always had a job. And after long breaks I’m always keen to get back to work. Anyone close to me would’ve heard me say that. Others hate to work and wish they didn’t have to. But I love it. I love to earn and feel like I’m being productive and helpful. I felt that way at my first grocery store job, at all my serving jobs and now as a travel agent. So losing a job wasn’t just a loss of income, it’s almost losing a sense of myself. I’m struggling to find out how to make a game plan for the next day, week, month ahead. I’m struggling to know what to do when Dom starts working from home on Monday and how I will fill my time each day while knowing someone else is there working. Will he scrutinize me for how I spend my time? Probably not, but i know I’ll feel that way regardless.
So for now and for however long this continues, I’m trying to stay active (ish) not melt into the couch and watch TV everyday. Exercise my mind as well as my body. Feel what my mind and body wants me to feel. I can’t fight the bad days, they will keep coming. Just as they always have, but probably with more regularity. I’ll continue my routine and try to pick up some hobbies, like my juggling mission that I started the other day. Who knows, maybe it’s my calling!
I can’t say what we need more of other than for more people to listen. Yesterday, it was a beautiful sunny day with clear skies. And the beach I used to live by in St. Kilda was packed with people. Not as crowded as a normal warm, sunny day. But alarmingly full when there is a global pandemic. I just hope that each individual takes this seriously and stays inside as best they can. I hope that world leaders have enough sense to keep people informed and inside. Every country is facing economic hardships, it’s not worth risking lives over steadying it.
All I do know is that this is going to give me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself, my friends, my communities, and the world. Maybe it’s a wake up call we all needed to face.
So here I am signing off at 10:49am on Saturday, March 28th from my bedroom in Richmond, Melbourne, Australia. Godspeed,