Lockdown blues… 259 days on

By Stella Joseph-Jarecki (Enquiries: stellamusicwriter.wordpress.com)

Photo credit: Stella J.J.

If you are reading this and are based in Victoria, please consider signing this petition to get small-to-medium music venues on a sustainable roadmap to recovery.

If I could describe my creative spirit at the moment, I would use the phrase ‘dried-out husk’. It’s probably not a fair summary- over the past three months I have enthusiastically harnessed the power of crafty pastimes to block out thoughts of the outside world.

So to be more specific: whenever my thoughts have turned to my musical and artistic ambitions for my career, I have come up with a blank page. Logically I am aware this blank page is the result of very obvious environmental factors. Since March 2020, there have been an accumulated 259 days of lockdown in my home city, and since that time I have had to witness the decimation of the performing arts industry all over the country.

The funny thing is, I am not looking towards non-locked-down life (‘normal’ isn’t a word I use anymore) with rose-coloured glasses. Of course, there will be a period of euphoria as the pubs reopen and loved ones can congregate in restaurants and homes. But loneliness, self-doubt, writers’ block, the feeling of being ‘stuck’- those emotions are hardly unique to lockdown.  

So why am I writing this? As a creative person who has dealt with periods of depression, one lesson I have learned it there is no downside to airing the warts-and-all thoughts you are comfortable sharing. Primarily this helps you hear the irrational slant of your own thinking, a phenomenon that can be very hard to notice unless you say things out loud. A nice side effect is this can also be beneficial for the person listening (or in this case, reading). It is part of human nature to question our place in things.

On 31 August 2020, I published a piece on this blog called Why I Never Want to Forget COVID-19. By that stage I had been working from home for five months, the first five months of my first-ever full-time job. The state had just entered Stage 4 lockdown, the strictest possible set of restrictions. I wrote that piece to reflect on the resilience I had shown over the course of 2020, along with everyone around me. I contended that while things felt like they were dragging on forever, a few weeks into relaxed restrictions we would begin to forget how it felt (much like childbirth…). I stand by that point. Nothing is permanent.

In the year since, we have been on a rollercoaster of recovery and regression. My state experienced three consecutive months with no COVID-19 community cases, squashed two outbreaks of the Delta variant with snap lockdowns, before a third transmission from another state plunged us into the lockdown which is still ongoing. If there is a better example of progress rarely happening in a straight line, I can’t think of it. We all joked 2021 had to be an improvement because anything would be better than 2020. But in a funny way, 2021 has been just as hard. We were given a brief period of freedom and artistic revival only to have it snatched away again, by an evolved disease and an incredibly slow, arguably incompetent national government.

I suppose this is a sequel to last year’s post. In the same way, I want to harness the power of perspective to stand back and face my own sadness, my lack of motivation, my occasionally bleak view of my own life. These are valid things to feel, but I have to remind myself the sun will rise again. International stadium tours are coming to Australia in 2022! Everyone I know is either fully vaccinated or on their way.

I’m turning 26 in two days and it’s taking every ounce of common sense to stop myself from having a meltdown. But hopefully in airing my own messy thoughts, you’ll feel less alone in yours.

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