An insight to covid blues as we speak to six people from different walks of life within the community.

Almost two years into one of the world’s longest lockdowns, Victoria emerges into a new world of the pandemic, gripped by fear, its variants now ruling most of the way we conduct our lives, a conundrum that is leading the society to a possibility of a new normal – well almost. Who will the world belong to after Covid-19? The answer is not so simple just yet, as day after day, glued to our television screens counting the daily numbers of covid causalities and the economic carnage that is fracturing, seething deep into our mental and physical well-being. One of the latest casualties to this outbreak this week is Melbourne’s giant observation wheel and for us six million living Victorians we are just on a roll call. If any lesson learned in 2021 is lockdowns has become a way of life until ‘vaccinated’. However most recently as we ‘now’ know lockdowns will certainly not end pandemics either.

We wanted to sift through the grey watermarks of despair, somehow confident we will be able to track footprints of hope and resilience which is much needed this time.  We selected six different people within the community and here is their journey so far in these last two years.

Aayushi Singh: Student, RMIT University – “The principle of looking after yourself first then other- this has been the biggest change in my life which happened during the pandemic.’’

Far away from my home, it has almost been two years since this twenty-four-year-old student has last seen her family, probably the longest she’s gone without seeing them. Losing her job last year, in 2020, during the national lockdown in March last year. “I remember it became so tough to find a job during the lockdown, I spent half a year without any job, it took a toll on my mental health, I thought of giving up, deferring my semester and travelling back to my home.” Most of her friends still stuck in India and due to the closure of international borders the hope of seeing her friends seems a fading memory.

Like many of us, the pandemic too gave Aayushi the time to reflect on herself and her mental well-being. She is filled with gratitude for the time inherited during these lockdowns to focus on herself and brush up on her skills and learn something new. Her decision to stay back in Melbourne may be the toughest choice she has ever made but, in many ways, she has found herself – wrong or right doesn’t matter, what matter is to stand tall and proud with her decisions. Aayushi’s message of compassion and kindness towards oneself and others is the only redemption towards self-preservation. I couldn’t have put it better than Aayushi because somewhere we still lag in the maturity embracing the negative vibes of covid and turning them into positive endearment.

Arpita Goyal: Behaviour Consultant, Children Health Services – “I have been reminding myself not to be too hard on myself right now; we’re all doing our best under these unprecedented circumstances. I think this pandemic has reminded all of us of the value of life and relationships.”

Arpita, a mother of two, housewife and a front-line worker, has seen many clients and their families suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, or other underlying mental health conditions during these unprecedented times. Work has been extra challenging especially the sustainability of everyone’s mental health.

“The toughest choice I have to make is sending my children to school given that this time some of the children were affected by the new variation of the virus,” Arpita still had to continue with her duties and it has taken a huge toll on her.  Economy and the shift in relationship dynamics have changed for many, Arpita feels these tough situations helps to realise the true potential in an individual. As a wife and a mother, she found it hard to balance between professional and personal life but life has a funny way of teaching resilience.

Arpita’s motto is simply practising self-compassion, fortunately, her work teaches her many strategies to keep her own peace.  Like many she too has been indulging in different recipes, cooking different meals giving her food platter a touch of restaurant and this is her relish into self-preserving.

Nayana Bhandari – Social Worker As a human being, I hate to rely on technology for everything, especially emotional well-being and face to face interactions.’’

As a Social worker, Nayana has witnessed the traumatic struggles of families in the community up-close. It has affected her immensely as it’s hard to provide or organise every support remotely.

According to her post ‘Covid’, life will be different, a different lifestyle bringing its own challenges and there are still some deep-rooted issues to overcome that might take years to recover. These uncertainties haunting every age groups needs a plan of action; a much needed holistic and integrative approach giving a clear pathway to normalcy.

Karan Gandhok: Event Catering, Tandoori Junction – “Covid-19 has and continues to change the world. The way we communicate, we do business, we socialise and the way we entertain.”

Being in event catering business they have been badly affected by Covid-19 and they too had to be innovative with their business model. They have been helping with meal deliveries for Mental Health Foundation and have witnessed the harsh blows of the pandemic affecting people financially, socially and mentally.

Our workplaces and styles of operation have all changed.” Further adding to this Karan knows going forward a lot of these changes will become permanent. He is confident they will bounce back; saying that there is no online substitute for experiences like beauty, hair, entertainment or dining business.

Ashwini Sonthalia: Gaura Travel – “Personally Covid brought the theory of how this world is temporary.”

The travel business has been the worst affected during covid, travel agencies all falling casualties to this invisible enemy. Ashwini explains how the theory of everything ‘temporary’ now a doom fact- overnight changing it for thousands of business owners in travel, hospitality and entertainment.

His analogy of Life to school is all about learning COVID and adapting to its invaluable lessons, he is trying to apply what to expect when the unexpected happens and be prepared for it’.

Pankaj Bajaj: Restaurateur, FloraI hope is to one day (soon) be able to travel overseas again and create more memories.”

As a restaurateur, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on both his personal and professional life. Being in hospitality both are quite interlinked influencing one to the other. Like most hospitality businesses, they are struggling with the uncertainty of lockdowns and business restrictions removing all sense of security or forecasting the future in a business sense. But the COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened his belief that ‘life goes on’.

According to Pankaj it is too early to imagine what life post COVID will be like.

I cannot agree more with Pankaj when he says it’s safer to live each day at a time.

We are all waiting to read the eulogy of Covid, when? We certainly don’t know but we do know the beast will exist without making noise as it possessed during its entrance – dwindling down to a flu. Our six members from the community has definitely sparked some emotions and if we take a pause to reflect on what’s been said it is all about coming together, taking care of each other, being compassionate and just be grateful for what we have now.  I just have one thing to quote for covid by Isaac Newton “What goes up must come down.”

By Nandita Chakraborty