The voice of Kate, a Project Manager who lives in Sydney.

2020 was one of the toughest years for me.

I had recently separated from my partner, which was compounded by being impacted by the first wave lockdown in Sydney. During this time, I felt a range of emotions; thankful, lonely, despair and grateful. These feelings continued throughout the remainder of the year.

On one level, I was thankful for the chance to shut myself away from the normality of life to process the separation between my partner and I, so that I could start my healing journey. However, it was lonely, being a single mum of two children, sharing them with my ex-partner on a weekly rotation: one week on, one week off. My weeks alone were full of feelings of sheer isolation.

During the first month of the pandemic, I was made redundant. I was due to be going to Tokyo for the Paralympics as part of my role. It felt like a double blow; losing my job and losing the opportunity to go to Japan for a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.

I spiralled into a pit of despair and lost all motivation and inspiration. I felt powerless to change or move forward. Some weeks I didn’t even shower and getting out of bed was challenging. I spent the whole year unemployed. It was so incredibly difficult finding work as there were so many people in the same boat; the competition was high.

On top of an already stressful set of circumstances, I also lost two people who were close to me in 2020. Attending a funeral in the COVID circumstances was extremely difficult. In early March, my ex-partner’s Aunty passed away, and with the restrictions at the time, only 100 people were allowed at her funeral. Late March my step mum died, and by this time restrictions had tightened further with only ten people were allowed to attend the funeral in person. It was very difficult to not say goodbye the way we would have ordinarily.

Just before Christmas, I was speaking with a colleague from previous workplace and they were looking for someone with my skillset and offered me a job. It came out of nowhere, and just at the right time. My new role was confirmed and commenced in January 2021. I was extremely thankful to have security and be able to enjoy Christmas.

Christmas was unusual as we plunged into another set of restrictions. I was thankful to attend an extended family gathering where they organised a COVID-MAS – you had to check-in with a QR code, the Christmas tree was decorated with baubles that looked like the virus, and the angel on top of the tree was wearing a mask. They also created COVID-MAS decorations such as angels purely out of masks; the masks made the best angel wings!   

The start of 2021 felt almost normal. There were restrictions, however we were allowed to have people at our home albeit restricted numbers. There was a lot of normalcy as to how we were conducting our lives. Compared to 2020, I felt that things were positive and as normal as COVID times could be. The kids were going to school, there weren’t any restrictions on going out or having people in your home. It was liberating, it was free.

The week before the school holidays in June, there were a couple of cases around Sydney and I had a feeling that things would go south. I decided to take the kids out; we went bowling and to TimeZone. Two days later, we were in lockdown. The kids missed out on school holidays. It has hit us hard as it felt like it came out of nowhere. We have now been in lockdown for seven weeks and counting.

There is a lot of frustration around Sydney at the moment as the number of cases are increasing daily; there are in excess of 340 new cases each day across New South Wales. The growing case numbers are frightening and it’s hard to see how we will get out of this. I’m frustrated that people can still think it’s normal to go out and about, spreading the virus. On a recent sunny day at my local park, there were hundreds of people picnicking, enjoying themselves as if nothing was happening. I am finding myself wanting to steer clear from these sorts of things. There seemed to be more policing of the rules during the lockdown last year but not this year, not this lockdown.

A bit of routine is helping to get me through this lockdown. Being conscious of letting things go and not putting any expectations on myself is also helping. I think it’s important to celebrate the really small things in a day. I went for a walk the other day with my friend and she was celebrating her achievement that day of cutting her toenails! My garden is really helping to keep me sane. I’m gardening a lot and it brings me a sense of achievement. I’ve learnt how to be more adaptable.

I am grateful for my children, for their love, and for their ease of adaptability. I am also grateful for my friends and family who checked in on me when I needed it most, helping me to not feel so alone.

I certainly have a greater empathy for Victoria now, and what Victorians went through in 2020, now that we have gone through it too. They say that the three biggest stresses in one’s life are moving, divorce and losing a loved one. I think that lockdown needs to be on that list!

If I was to sum up 2021 in three words so far, it would be adaptability, frustration and comradery.

 

August 2021