I am a Victorian, born and bred. I am a proud Victorian, but I am also a frustrated and sad Victorian.
Have you heard about a certain disease called Covid-19 that has been sweeping across the world and wreaking havoc? Covid has turned Victorians lives upside down, especially Melbournites. In the early days of March 2020 waking up every morning and turning the tv on to see the news headlines was the first thing on our minds. What was this disease? Little did we know back then that life as we knew it was about to change and not for the better.
Lockdown #1 happened. I will forever have etched in my memory the announcement made by our Prime Minister Scott Morrison. I was sitting on the couch with my girls, one under each arm and Bob my husband was standing beside us. Tears were streaming down my face. How could a disease put an entire country into lockdown? Covid was scary, the unknown we were facing was scary!
Kids started homeschooling, and at first this was a novelty, and my work continued as I work in the medical industry which is deemed essential. Life continued somewhat normally for us but with a few roadblocks in the way. Kid’s sport was stopped in its tracks, the only way that the kids could catch up with their friends was through a screen and face masks became the new norm. Covid was very prevalent in our lives.
We survived lockdown #1 and life returned to some sort of normal. The kids went back to school, and restrictions were lifted to a certain degree. We survived, or so we thought! A few weeks later lockdown #2 began. This time around though, it was not an Australian wide lockdown it was only Victoria. We had an outbreak of Covid that spread quickly and the only way our government, could see us getting this under control was to lock us down and stop us from moving around. Many blamed our government and yes, maybe they had a part to play in it, however they did what they did to keep us safe. I for one would not have wanted to be in their shoes. I’m not going to get into a political fight, and I believe everyone is entitled to their own view around this, but what I am going to do is give you an insight into what it feels like to be a Victorian.
We Victorians have put our lives on hold, and it feels like we have had the pause button hit on us. Imagine waking up and seeing the sun shining and wanting to go for a walk, but before you can go for that walk you need to get your face mask on. Stepping outside your front door to go for a walk to get fresh air bought on a whole new meaning. There was no breathing in fresh air because your face was now covered, and you could only walk within a 5km radius. Simple things like taking a walk had changed. Covid had completely changed this.
The girl’s lives had become like Groundhog Day. They would get up, shower, get dressed and then sit down in the same place they did every day, in front of a computer and start their school day. It was the same thing every single day. There was no face-to-face contact with anyone, except us their immediate family and they were starting to climb the walls. It was like they had been defeated. Going to the supermarket was insane. One person was allowed to go at a time, so the kids couldn’t even go to the supermarket as an outing unless they went by themselves. Sometimes this is what they did just so they could see other humans. As you walked into the supermarket you would smile at the person handing you a freshly sanitised basket or trolley from behind your mask and hoped that your eyes were smiling because that’s all they could see. That supermarket workers job description had changed to professional Covid cleaner. You could not see people’s faces, their smiles and even speaking to the checkout person who was standing behind the plastic shield had become impersonal. Shopping sucked, Covid sucks!
I felt so sorry for many, as people were losing their jobs. Businesses had to close their doors or create new ways of selling the wares or products online. Covid had turned our lives upside down. I was lucky in the sense I still had a job, I got to go to work and step outside of my four walls, but many did not. My mental state took a nosedive, and I was one of the lucky ones, I can’t begin to imagine how others felt. People who did lose their jobs and businesses. I was worried about those whose lives had been turned upside down. Couples had to cancel their weddings, people couldn’t celebrate milestone birthdays or special occasions, but the worst was funerals. There were capacity limits placed on funerals and many people didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. Who would have though Facebook Live funerals would become a thing? Family holidays couldn’t happen, and us Victorians had to find ways to keep our kids busy, make things exciting and fun and try to keep our spirits up. We literally were on pause, the Covid pause.
The worst for me though was being separated from my family and friends. Zoom meetings became a regular thing, but it was not the same as sharing a meal together, and I missed hugs. Seeing my Mum, Dad, my sisters, and their families are what I craved. Knowing they were only an hour down the road, yet I couldn’t go and see them was crippling. They were there but just out of reach, and I lost count of the times I randomly burst into tears just thinking about them. Covid put a boundary between myself and my loved ones.
We eventually stopped watching the morning shows as all we heard was what a bad job the Victorians were doing. The media outlets that are based in NSW focused so much on the negative and it started to feel like we were under attack. It felt like the rest of Australia had turned it’s backs on us. Trawling through social media was hard and became something I did less and less. Seeing friends and family from different states going about their lives without a care in the world really pulled at the heart strings. What hurt the most though, was the fact that they didn’t understand. They were oblivious to what Covid had done to our state. Their lives were blissfully normal, they still got to celebrate events, go to the gym, and work out, go to restaurants to eat, and catch up with family and friends. Everything that we Victorians craved for but was just out of our reach.
Hearing comments from fellow states like “Stinky Victorians” or “Victoria is the Covid capital” hurt. We were all put in the same boat and vilified for something that was out of our control. Most of us lived in regional areas that had never had a Covid case, yet we were sticking by the rules to stay safe. So, to everyone reading this who isn’t a Victorian, we are done! We are drained and we are tired. We are over being blamed for outbreaks, especially when they make their way into Victoria from other states. Lockdowns are no longer a novelty. They aren’t about being able to wear your pajamas or tracksuits all day, they aren’t about garage workouts, fun family outings within a 5kms radius, or days off, we are done.
Our economy is suffering, people are suffering, businesses are suffering and all we ask for is a little empathy. We aren’t expecting you to understand because you never will. You haven’t lived through Covid like we have. There is a saying “love thy neighbour” so to our neighbouring states enough. Enough of the name calling, enough of the state blaming and enough of the trying to make someone pay for the Covid outbreaks. We did what we did to keep everyone safe, and that includes the rest of the country. We kept you safe too!
In a strange way although Covid nearly broke us on numerous occasions it bought us all closer and made us stronger. Us Victorians now value freedom more than you could possibly imagine, and we appreciate the small things. We still have a long way to go to get back to normality, but I ask myself this question daily when I wish for that. What is normal and will we ever be back to the way we were? Covid has changed our normal, but I pray Victoria and its people can get back to as close to normal as we can … together.
I am still a Victorian and I am proud to be a Victorian, who has been touched by Covid.