How to survive 300+ days in lockdown
A lifetime of mental illness prepared me for this
It’s been a long road but after many many (many) months of lockdown in Melbourne, I’ve collated my top 11 findings to get through, or just keep busy.
It won’t change your life but maybe make it a little less unbearable.
1.Classism is gone
This is my fave. Peter Rowsthorn (Brett from Kath and Kim) for example he is an established Australian actor who was out of work and started driving trucks to support his family. What a fucking legend.
People who lost their corporate blue-collar jobs and now serve at the deli in Woolies, I salute you. Who cares what you do for work we’re all just trying to survive. So, be extra nice to people who serve, wait on, deliver to (etc) you. You don’t know their story but my god I think they’re great.
2. Don’t dye your hair
This is a concrete rule that should be applied to all years. I’ve dyed my hair every colour under the sun, the scent of box-dye still pricks my anxiety.
Do not add to your stress levels when you can’t get to the salon to fix the homemade bleach job that’s formed the aggressive shape of a murky orange (wide) headband that does not below on your head.
And no, you (Erika) do not need a fringe.
3. Having low standards for each day means they usually turn out okay
I started my March lockdown in the sourdough making, I’ll start a new course, start a side hustle, finally some time to work on my 6 pack (that’s never existed), future yogi mindset.
I pushed myself to work out every day to the point the few people I saw were telling me they’d never seen me so happy or skinny.
On the inside, I was a fucking mess. My partner lost his job, I was covering all our expenses. I was skipping meals due to subconsciously needing control, from there my disordered eating crept back into my life.
I couldn’t walk past my reflection without pausing to see if my stomach was flat enough or you could see my double chin. I was burning the candle at both ends, scared of everything in the present and what was to come.
The second lockdown came and I did fuck ALL. I recommend it, just pat yourself on the back because you showered that day.
You don’t need to transform your outside world when things fall apart, it’s time to turn in. Keep your happiness standards low and just fucking survive it. Every day is self-care Sunday during the lockdown.
4. Read books
About anything. Stop thinking they will change your life. You’re in lockdown baby. Shit isn’t changing. My kindle became my saviour during lockdown, I don’t care I look like a crazy bat on the train reading 50 shades of grey — it’s the cost per wear! Get yourself a kindle. I went for a refurb option that’s half the price.
When you’re really into a book it takes you to another place. Time flies and you feel good about spending hours sitting down (win!).
5. Don’t watch the news
If you can. A pandemic mixed with the US election is a disaster. It’s like a Stephen King film mixed with a reality TV show. Full-blown fucked. It’s fearmongering, the media pulls you in and reminds you the world is a mess.
If you can limit it to once a day or a week, I swear you will feel better. Just like paranoia, if you search for an issue you will always find it served on a silver platter of fear.
6. Gyms suck
Sure some people love them. But coming from an introvert with a history of eating disorders and body dysmorphia, gyms fucking suck. I hate the mirrors, the stares and constantly feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, and I swear the guy on the squat machine is looking at me weird… Sometimes it’s nice to not set foot in a gym. Just walk baby, you’re fine.
7. You can control your skin
Theres something therapeutic about a 3 step skin care process daily. God, I feel like an adult when I do this. It’s not an overnight fix but the little act of self-care makes me feel good. It’s a small act that is just for me.
8. No more fake tan or plucking my brows
A fake tan will not make you thinner. I repeat (for my sanity) it does not make you look skinnier. I do not need to lay on towels for hours on a Sunday to appeal to a certain aesthetic. As for my brows. If Cara Delevingne can pull off John Howard brows — so can you! I’m just living my best pasty, hairy life.
9. Normal experiences probably won’t come back, try not to pine for them
The good feelings you get during those experiences will. They will just have a new stomping ground. Coming out from the harshest lockdown in the world, the rules are still there, masks still there, temperature checks at the shops etc.
It is odd and scary at times but the socially distanced walks with old friends, the newfound conversations with my family, the excitement of getting my takeaway barista-made coffee in the morning, those feelings have been around before but they have new meaning. And to be honest, they feel even better and more cherished than before. Appreciate the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.
10. Deep dive to your values
Before this, mine were career, perfectionism, being seen as successful and happy, upholding the “rock” status in my immediate family.
Now, I don’t care where I work, what I wear, what my body looks like, I just want to surround myself with people I love to be my authentic and fucking awesome self. I’m not a size 8, I’m not in a fancy high flying job anymore, I’m just Erika and that’s completely okay. I don’t need to live like others are watching anymore.
11. A lifetime of mental illness prepared me for this
My fellow depressed comrades have got this down pat. Isolated? Been there. No social interaction? Easy. Laying in bed for 12+ hours a day and eating shit? My favourite pass time. Worlds ending? Honey, mines been falling apart since the 90s.
It’s the mentally ill who can shine, the introverts who found social settings too much at times, the people who saw the good in the small stuff, they are the ones to look up to.
I’ve had days of lying in bed crying but they pass just like everything does, it’s all ebb and flow. You can’t control what’s going on outside of you only on the inside.
Lots of love, Erika.