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# Everyone is (mentally) exhausted

Honestly, I have never lived through a period where absolutely everyone I know from the old lady next door to my young work colleagues to the postman are utterly worn out.

But it’s true. Everyone is (mentally) exhausted.

COVID-related lockdowns in Victoria have been so enduring that I think the majority of people have simply run out of strength to go on. And yet we must. We must. How else, otherwise, can we ever hope to return to a life that resembles normality?

We can’t.

Victoria passed a grim milestone last week of exceeding 200 (non-continuous) days in lockdown – far longer than in any other Australian state, even New South Wales. Nick Miller and Maeve McGregor’s article in The Age summed up the general feeling well when they wrote about how lockdown started-off as a novelty – even an opportunity – but now those feelings have morphed into dread and even despair:

Of the 500-odd days that followed, we have spent 301 behind mandatory masks indoors, 100-plus at home (non-) schooling, 224 with closed church doors. We’ve lived through 93 wedding-less days, 59 curfewed nights and 148 days with playgrounds taped and silent.

The Age, 19 August 2021

I am both an optimist and a research scientist (with a background in biology), so I understand both why we need the lockdowns and support the measures. But gosh it’s hard to stay motivated now. It really is.

I understand why other members of the community who have also endured this sacrifice but for whom SARS-CoV-2 is a baffling mystery and for whom the lockdowns feel like a form of authoritarian punishment may resort to anger. I don’t condone it nor agree with it, but these wholly reckless, selfish and illegal acts are hardly surprising either.

We’ve all just got to calmly step back and help each other get through this somehow.

There is good news. Vaccination rates in Victoria are soaring (finally) with 32.2% of people over the age of 16 having had both doses and 53.2% having had at least one dose of either AstraZenica or Pfizer. Nationally, these numbers are 32.0% and 55.2% respectively.

We’re getting there.

Vaccinating the population won’t make COVID-19 disappear, but it will significantly reduce the threat that this disease poses. That’s a good thing.

We’ll all grow old as changed people now. Like the generation that endured World War II and the Great Depression, this is the scar that we’ll collectively bear for the rest of our days.

Yet like the generations before, we’ll get through it. Nothing lasts forever.

Some days it’s really difficult to keep going, but we all must find that last bit of strength to keep it up so that we may finally be able to enjoy the things that we’ve missed for so long. Truly, it’s not too far away now even if it feels otherwise.

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