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COVID comedown: reflecting on the crisis and the things we missed

This week I finally have a bit of time to process what the last couple of months have looked like, and it’s been quite a ride! I now actually have some physical space as my 8 year old twins have returned to their special school part-time, so I just have my teenager at home studying online (self-directed, apart from when it comes to food).

This is how the COVID crisis unfolded for our family :

  • Watching with disbelief as other parts of the world were affected by Covid 19, thinking ‘it won’t reach Australia?  Will it?  No.  It might!’
  • CRAP.  It’s reached us.
  • Now what?
  • Outbreaks in our community just as my son’s seizures start to return with a vengeance!
  • SH!T!
  • Meds increased, phone calls and emails to doctors. Lucky that our doctors are on speed dial.
  • Decision time – you are all home. Yay, they say!
  • Next day – ‘stop bloody fighting, this is going to be a long ride.’
  • After 4 weeks, we better do some “home schooling”.
  • Let’s not. We will chop up all the work sheets instead. That’s fine motor done for the day.
  • My kids sack me as their teacher.  Or did I quit? I can’t remember.
  • OMG my kids are NEVER going to go back to school.
  • Pivot – work on communication – Install Kids Messenger.
  • 65 calls made on the first day to Nana and friends from school and family in Melbourne.
  • Second day – more calls to Nana.  This time, my son just sets the iPad up and I hear ‘Mikey are you there?’  He ignores her.  He doesn’t want to talk.  He just wants her to watch him eat! 
  • Nana hangs up.

There’s been a lot more of the above, rinse and repeat so to speak. It feels a long time since the early days of the toilet paper hoarding insanity. The days have been long but the weeks short….or something like that.

I didn’t realise how much my kids were taking in regarding the outbreak, until I realised that they WERE TAKING IT ALL IN!  The bellows of TOILET PAPER and VIRUS are new words we’ve added to my son’s growing vocabulary.  God, how much therapy as a family are we going to need after this?

One day (well most days), I’d had enough of my husband, so I got in my car (when you could drive decent distances) and took off with the twins in the back.  Then I realised, what the hell was I doing and drove back home. He can help me with the twins. We reconciled our differences and moved on.

As a family we have experienced isolation and loneliness before but never in this scenario, on this scale.  And it all felt very different to the other times where, due to our life of being a medically complexed family with varying disabilities – physical, intellectual, mental health to name a few, we’ve had to make adjustments over the years.  

Then, there’s my neurotypical teenager who’s been working from her bedroom, only emerging for cameo appearances throughout the day to bring her dirty dishes out.  Will she need therapy after all this?  Probably.

We started off positively enough, however I didn’t account for the fighting, oh the fighting!  The irritability that the kids were experiencing resulted in a WWF session each day. 

I never really appreciated the routine that we had prior to this whole situation, but now I do – how important it was to keeping us all in balance.

A simple routine and a life that is not jam packed works for us, and it’s the only way we can stay together – if we reduce some of the ‘noise’ – the busyness and commitments to be everywhere and doing everything.  We worked hard to get the balance right and we seemed to be starting the year off strong.

We were busy, but only with the things we chose. That was something that our mental health doctor told us to work on – let it all go, focus on family & work only. Then slowly add things again.  As soon as the scales tip, you will feel it.  The overwhelm will creep back and the tightness in the chest will catch you off guard because you haven’t felt it for so long.   

Being on medication helps manage things on a daily basis but it doesn’t make feelings or situations you find difficult disappear.  You still need to work on those things.  This is a fallacy of medication that inflames the stigma of mental health. I will address that topic in another post, on another day!

I never appreciated the hard work that we put in as a family to make our family tick but I know there are others out there who live a similar life to us and ‘get it’. 

We just miss our family routine – the gentle rhythm of our days and the light activities. I know that in time, when everything is back to ‘normal’ and everyone is busy again, people will move on and the time that we all had to stay home, will be just a distant memory to some. For us though, we will happily be at home, strong in the awareness that this is where our heart is.

By Kelly Wilton

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