SA's COVID 'Circuit Breaker': What We Heard from the Lived Experience Community
COVID19, Our Experiences Through COVID Project
LELAN connected with members of the lived/living experience community as we moved in and out of the State’s ‘Circuit Breaker’. We value the insights, perspectives and stories that were shared through our COVID surveys, one-on-one catch ups as well as through our weekly Connection & A Cuppa Zoom sessions and wanted to showcase these to the wider community. See below to read all the wisdom that we captured through these connections.
Our feelings through COVID:
As an organisation LELAN acknowledges, respects and has followed directives communicated by SA Health to keep South Australian’s safe and healthy throughout the COVID pandemic, including the recent ‘Circuit Breaker’. Below are some of the feelings that people with lived experience have told us they experienced during this time.
Experiences of sadness, frustration, worry and feeling anxious by the situation were articulated in our connections with the lived/living experience community.
-> The uncertainty and everchanging nature of COVID19… made me feel like I was going through a grieving process.
-> I am worried about just getting really really restless.
-> I have some medical issues, I need an MRI but it’s not considered essential, even though in (my) head it is definitely cancer and I’m gonna die.
-> I don’t care what the restrictions are in 6 days, as long as we can walk. I just need to get out!
For some, COVID made individuals fearful about returning to their past selves.
-> I’m worried about getting sick again, even though it’s only 6 days, my head is very powerful.
-> I am worried about] not having anywhere to go or any way to unwind my thoughts.
For others, this was not only a fear but a reality – as one respondent stated, COVID19 pushed some people back into their comfort zones that they worked so hard to push themselves out of, including getting outside, socialising with others and working on themselves for the better.
-> The six days changed everything.
-> I am embarrassed to say this, but I rang Lifeline twice during the circuit breaker. It was so difficult for me to cope this time around.
-> My life was returning back to normal. I pulled myself together. I went out networking. I was studying and COVID19 wasn’t hurting or interfering with our lives. When the [circuit breaker] hit, it stopped my future and I was back to where I was after the first wave.
It made people aware of their vulnerabilities, as they had more time alone with themselves and to reflect on themselves. For some, this was more harmful than helpful.
Our pains and joys of COVID:
COVID19 has amplified both our pains of life and our joys.
While pains accompany COVID, there are joys and positive moments as well. The community recognised their own resilience and strengths through COVID.
-> COVID19 helped me realise what some of my mental health experiences taught me. I am quite used to things changing a lot and that things aren’t certain. I am more resilient now.
-> I don’t know about you, but I don’t think COVID19 was that negative. I think it’s because I was in hospital before the first wave and lockdown started and because I have experienced so much uncertainty in my life. I now know how to cope with it and deal with it.
Many found that their past experiences with uncertainty – whether it was while in crisis, or in hospital – set them up for success with COVID.
-> It seems like I’ve been going through uncertainty for a while and I feel like I’m adapting to it better. I have learnt to accommodate for the weird and uncertain things that have come into my life.
-> My previous experiences with uncertainty have given me the time to build the basic tools to navigate life. It’s almost made me stronger and better at navigating COVID19.
More broadly, COVID allowed South Australians to reset, refocus and reprioritise. While it was not under the most ideal circumstances, it was a necessary move for our community to heal and recover from the intense events that occurred in the first half of 2020. It enabled South Australians to reflect on their day-to-day and see a life beyond the typical 9 to 5 and other social milestones enforced by society. It brought South Australians closer with their loved ones and encouraged them to have a greater appreciation of the simple things – whether that was going outside for a walk, cooking and eating a meal with family, or recognising the power of technology and the modern world. However, many expressed that these things came with a level of privilege.
-> We come from a privilege position where we have a safe place to be and where our basic needs – like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – are addressed to some extent.
-> Yes, I acknowledge there is a level of privilege that comes with our suffering. But that doesn’t make our suffering any less real.
COVID has provided the opportunity for the majority of society to finally understand a minority’s world – whether it was extraverts navigating an introvert’s world OR the general public navigating the uncertainty and turbulency that comes with mental health. This is a crucial idea as it enables the lived/living experience community to be validated, listened to and better understood. Most importantly, it kickstarts the process of acknowledging the power of lived/living experience wisdom and the process of learning from the community to better outcomes and the future for all South Australians.
Our strategies to navigate COVID:
See below for tips, tricks and strategies that the lived/living experience community shared with LELAN to navigate COVID and other uncertain times.
* Maintain a routine as much as possible. Get up and pretend that it is a normal day – it helps!
* Keep in contact with people who are there for you no matter what
* Don’t follow the situation relentlessly because that is more harmful than helpful. If you are following the situation, listen and follow information from one trusted source.
* Seek information that empowers you, rather than fosters fear
* Find something that gives you passion, purpose and drive
* Going on walks and going outdoors can help you get out of your head
* Mediation allows you to clear your head
* Engage in a hobby – whether that is gardening, cooking, anything that keeps you busy and distracts you for a second is good!
* Practice gratitude during a time where
* Connecting with people over shared and similar experiences – whether this is over life experiences, navigation of COVID, or thoughts, feelings and wellbeing
*These excerpts are from conversations and connections LELAN has had, as part of the Our Experiences through COVID project.