Lessons from Lockdown

I saved this blog before it was written as april2020; when I then opened the document I seriously considered posting it blank. Well, not that seriously, but I did think for a moment would a blank page be representative? Representative of a month into lockdown and the FB posts showing cartoons of same old same old, my another groundhog day feeling (and husband singing Mama Mia, here we go again…), the Fitbit buzzing me at ten minutes to the hour to tell me to walk and it seems like it did it only a few minutes earlier (and the carpet looking more worn).

No, not a blank page, more a faded crumpled one. Hard to do online, though when I put up an author page (one of the many things on the to do list that has been sitting there for years and finally got done…) I notice you can make your photos look antique!

Despite this, when I actually look at the month it’s been very busy, and compared to most people, the COVID situation hasn’t made much of a difference—I’m used to sitting day after day in a room with my husband where we are both writing. So used to it that our exercise regime is perfected—home gym and a four kilometre circuit where we rarely meet anyone. We’ve had plenty to write with an attempt to get a draft of Two Steps On to the editor by May, and with my book launch of The Long Shadow next week, I’ve been doing lots of Q&A’s, interviews and erudite, funny, quirky, stand out original blogs so everyone would know they just had to read my book immediately and take it to an immediate number one spot on the best seller list.

Seriously, dreams are important and there are no travel or vacations to look forward to in the foreseeable future!

Which brings me to, what have I learnt after a month in lockdown when even if it hasn’t been as big a deal for me as some (I’m working one day a week online at home as a psychiatrist and one day a fortnight I go into the hospital), it has still left a mark. (This isn’t to say that I’m not really, really grateful to not be worrying about mine or a family member’s job, as well as delighted to be in Australia compared to anywhere else in the world (ok, NZ is great, I get it))

  1. I have an insatiable appetite for reading (nothing new) BUT news needs to be relegated to mornings only. Anxiety provoking, poignant and infuriating articles (the latter almost entirely relegated to Trump and an occasional idiotic US state governor or casino owner) just add to feelings of helplessness and despair. Occasional later perusal of FB for cartoons is permitted.
  2. Online psychotherapy isn’t perfect. It isn’t new and I’ve been reading articles on it both recent and longer standing. While I don’t do psychotherapy, there is inevitably a relationship between patients I review and myself which contributes to their mental health, whether they take my advice, their medication etc. And there is a difference doing this online. It is more intense, less room to “feel” what’s happening in the space and less forgiveness; a pause send people giggling with their devise to see it has frozen.
  3. Zoom cocktails can be exhausting. The more people (not cocktails) the better at any one meeting and I much rather husband on screen with me so I can sit back and well, drink, while he talks. And everyone knowing you are available (like what else are you doing?) has its problems.
  4. WhatsApp anything can be exhausting.
  5. Getting across anything other than Zoom, Skype and Whats App is exhausting.
  6. It’s turning my mother into a radical right winger. Not sure if this is because she is devouring the Herald Sun and Fox news without the balance of her usual very active social life or she’s just bored, but if you see an eighty plus year old heading up a Michigan style protest about the right to get infected (read to go back to normal for the economy), it’ll be her.
  7. Digging up old DVDs to watch at the home gym (we don’t have a TV in the house we’re holed up in) has interesting consequences. I’m watching season seven of 24 (I saw season and two and then the kids streamed the others but had to buy season seven for some reason); Jack Bower and the incredibly competent FBI techies feels like Scifi when I look at what actually seems to be happening in Americas response to COVID.
  8. People seem to have used this time to do clean ups. I’m not one of them.
  9. I can sleep at lot. I hope its held in reserve so when this is over I can stay up all night watching the stuff I don’t have access to, attending gatherings and not worrying about not being able to sleep on flights (if long distance flights ever exist again…I see NZ being a popular destination for Aussies…)
  10. If doing a Zoom chat outdoors mute the speaker—magpies are really loud in the morning.
  11. The background picture on your computer (id you are using it a lot) is really important. I’ve felt much calmer since changing it from the busy book picture (which basically said to me Write! Promote!) to a scenic picture from our walk in the French-Italian alps last year. I was going to insert it here but see next point.
  12. The internet is in overload…this may be the next major first world crisis or at least restriction!




About annebuist

Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has 30 clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller. Professor Buist is married to novelist Graeme Simsion and has two children.
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1 Response to Lessons from Lockdown

  1. David Lord says:

    Your comments about your mother are the same for my mother. What has happened here? I hope life improves with lockdown easing in Melbourne.


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