Social distancing. Caring for others at risk. Jobs changed, jobs lost. For Jordan and three of his mates, a lot has changed in the past two weeks. Here’s how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting their lives and how they’re dealing with it.
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It didn’t feel real for me until Friday 13 March. My co-workers and I received the call that the office would be working from home for the foreseeable future. Leading up to that point, I thought this was all a topical joke. People bulk-buying groceries and supplies. Stocks of toilet paper and hand sanitiser diminishing. Real zombie-apocalypse kind of behaviour. Maybe it wouldn’t feel real to any of us until we were personally affected or knew someone who was?
Thus far, I haven’t personally been affected in terms of work and finances. I’ve been affected differently. I currently live with my 92-year-old grandmother so that she isn’t alone amidst all this, despite her being particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Strict hygiene practises, social distancing, and immunity-boosting diets are my best friends right now.
Was I riddled with anxiety and stress at first that I would somehow contract the virus and spread it to her? Yes. Am I now? Not as much. I work from home full-time, so I’m not in public much to begin with, and we get all our groceries delivered. I’ve come to accept the situation for what it is. For me, this is a time to reflect, practise self-care and to catch up with personal growth. I’ll be doing my part in these times to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
Even if you’re a low-risk person, taking the precautions advised by the Australian Government authorities will save the lives of those at higher risk of fatality from this pandemic. For example, the elderly, people with diabetes, cancer patients, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with chronic medical conditions, and those that live in group residential settings.
Georgie, age 24, is a casual primary school teacher from the Tweed Coast, NSW. She moved over to the United Kingdom in December 2019 to pursue her teaching career abroad. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19’s global spread and the tough travel bans that followed, she had no choice but to leave her job, cut her trip short and return home to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Georgie in London, UK | Supplied: Jordan Clayden-Lewis
“The whole experience has been incredibly overwhelming,” Georgie says. “I know personally I do not cope well when sitting at home doing nothing, in terms of my mental health. I know being stuck at home is a trigger for negativity for me, so I’m scared but also am writing lists of things to do to keep busy, including meditation and journaling.”
Georgie, like many other young people, has lost work and finances due to COVID-19. Now back at home in Australia, she’s worried that if schools shut down in NSW, she’ll be out of work here too.
Brodie, age 26, is a bar manager based in Sydney. Australia’s hospitality industry has suffered a substantial blow in the past weeks. Initially, Brodie lost several hours of work due to reduced patronage at the bar, but now the establishment has shut down, all future shifts have been cancelled.
Bar manager Brodie from Sydney, NSW | Supplied: Jordan Clayden-Lewis
“The bar I worked for shut down on Monday,” Brodie explains. “A lot of my friends who also work in hospo have lost their jobs, including my housemates. We’re all unsure about whether we can meet rent in a few weeks from now and can’t afford to be evicted. My mother has recently had surgery and I want to go visit her. It’s also just incredibly annoying not being able to hug friends.”
Tachi, age 21, works as a travel agent in Perth, Western Australia. As an avid lover of travel and tourism, she has always loved going to work but COVID-19 has made her job considerably more difficult.
Dealing with numerous cancellations and trying to get money back for customers alongside constantly repeating airline and supplier policies each day has overwhelmed her. However, Tachi’s staying as positive as possible amidst the chaos.
Tachi at the beach in Western Australia | Supplied: Jordan Clayden-Lewis
“I think branching out for financial support can help those in a similar situation. I think it’s just a matter of reaching out and letting someone know if you’re struggling. It could be your workplace or friends, and of course your family, who can help you get back on your feet and steer you in the right direction.”
It’s easy to feel unsettled and overwhelmed in times like these. You’re not alone.
If you have questions or concerns, please call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398. Please take care, look out for one another, and reach out to these support services if you need to talk to someone: Beyond Blue (Ph: 1300 224 636), Lifeline (Ph: 13 11 14) and Headspace (Ph: 1800 650 890).