When I started writing this on the 14 April 2020, it had been just over a week since I moved back home from isolation.
Now, it’s been about 3 weeks (…and I have A LOT to say about it).
For those of you who don’t know the story ~ I tried starting a life in Geelong in Australia just before the pandemic got out of hand. But then it did get out of hand…and everything happened so quickly ~ confirmed cases increased drastically and businesses and restaurants suddenly shut down; toilet paper and pasta were nowhere to be found. Jobs were scarce. My chances of finding work were so slim that I decided to abandon ship and fly across the border to go back home to Perth. Before officially moving back in with my parents, I self-isolated in my friend’s apartment for 2 weeks.
All I can say is WOW, it was a long journey in the sense that my days were filled with nothing but finding activities to do to pass the time…but then those 2 weeks flew by…because it was time to move back home before I knew it!
Since coming home, I’ve had more than enough time to deeply reflect on what I’ve done and how I’ve felt (of course, these things will differ between 1 and 3 weeks…and even a month or two after). The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that the simple act of getting out of quarantine and coming home has been such an interesting experience….particularly because it’s been much more difficult than I could have ever expected.
It’s so weird because during isolation, I really couldn’t wait for it to finish…to have more space and free access to enjoy being outside. I never EVER would have anticipated it to turn out completely the opposite of what I imagined.
Truth be told, I’ve struggled enormously with adapting back into my home life (especially at the beginning). For me, being in this big home with a backyard hasn’t been as liberating as expected. I feel equally, or even perhaps more restricted than when I was in isolation in that small one-bedroom apartment (with no balcony BTW).
I’ve barely left the house (I feel like I’m hibernating) and noticed my productivity and motivation declining as each day passes. Maybe it’s simply because this iso-lifestyle isn’t so ‘new’ to me anymore…
Maybe I’m just having a battle with my internal demons (I mean we all go through ups and downs and times where we just don’t have much motivation right? And it’s normal for our thoughts to go a little deeper when we have the time and stillness to think, without the distractions of the outside world).
But these are just random theories I have ~ I honestly don’t know for sure why I feel the way I feel at this stage of my life. All I know is how I’m feeling…and it feels kinda like I’ve spiralled into a somewhat of a dark stage of my life.
Even though what I’m feeling might not be the most positive thing, I have to acknowledge that I’ve been gifted with lots of time for writing and reflection. It’s allowed me notice an endless array of things…and yes I’ll be sharing a baby portion of what I’ve discovered with you about coming home 😉 If you don’t want to read the whole thing, go ahead and click on whichever title you want to read 😊 Most points are brief but there are a few things I lots to say about.
I hope you enjoy!
1. The positives of moving back in with your parents after isolation
Let’s start on a positive note ~ these are the things I’ve been grateful for-
- Having all this quality time with the fam – after being away from my family for so long (total of about 7 years), it’s truly nice to be with them again so I can build stronger relationships with them and have all that nostalgic food from my childhood. The first day I came home, I raided the pantry and ate EVERYTHING my eyes so desired. I felt pretty crap after but I think it was worth the pain 😉
- Having space – physically this house has so much more room than a one-bedroom apartment with no balcony.
- Being able to lie down and enjoy a backyard – as per my point above. My place has a pretty big backyard with a lot of soft grass to lie on (it’s perfect for star or cloud gazing). We are just so lucky in Perth to get so much sunlight all the time.
- Having a garden
- Living in a quiet neighbourhood where we get ample sunlight and a clear view of the sunset and stars at night – much nicer compared to apartment living where you hear everything your multiple neighbours are doing all the time.
- The friendly neighbour cat who visits us 3 times a day – because you know, animals are the best!
- Having a fully equipped kitchen – as a foodie who has recently discovered how much I love to cook (plus Masterchef just coming on TV), this is such an important thing especially when you have all this time to kill.
- Not paying rent – of course this is a huge pro of living at home. It definitely takes a HUGE stress off my shoulders.
- Not being demanded to do house chores – also another thing I’m lucky to have.
- Mum’s cooking – yep, my mum cooks pretty darn good food and loves cooking. She’s been going cooking crazy lately because of the climate. It may not be the healthiest but it’s certainly tasty.
- Your parents buying food for you – bless my parents. Every time they go to the shops, they ask me if I need anything and get it for me…and they don’t ask me for money either (I also do the same for them).
- Having access to a car – this is pretty important in Perth because public transport here sucks. Since our restrictions aren’t so bad here, I have the capability of driving to places to go for a walk or a hike or seeing my friends.
- Having wifi – the one thing in that apartment which drove me crazy was not having free reign on the internet. It’s so nice being able to watch videos and movies without worrying about how much data I’m consuming.
- Having a comfortable bed
- Moving back into a home with people I’m familiar living with
2. The negatives of coming home
Now it’s time for the negatives…and before I get into it, I must say that being ‘stuck’ at home right now kinda reminds me of when I was 16 and hid myself from the world because I was too depressed to deal with it. The first 3 days were particularly rough…sometimes, at random times of the day (and multiple times throughout the day), tears would just suddenly pour down my face. But like the old clichés ~ what goes up must come down (and vice versa)…and nothing lasts forever…because those difficult 3 days eventually passed and I managed to come out of it (at least a little bit anyway…I’m still finding that my emotions are very much like a yoyo right now ~ one minute I feel ok, but then the next minute I feel like I’m heading in a downward spiral of depression). I’ve definitely felt many times this regret for coming home and not sticking it out in Geelong to find my own place. Even though it would have been harder financially, I would have at least had my space.
Now that you’ve heard more of my thoughts and my story, here are the things which have been extremely tough for me-
- Moving…yet again – It didn’t help that in the span of about 1.5 months, I’d moved 3 times – I went on a trip to New Zealand, moved back to Victoria, then to Flemi’s place for quarantine and then back to my parents. I think we can all agree that moving even once is stressful enough, let alone 3 times. I don’t think I realised how exhausted and stressed I was from moving until I hit my breaking point a few days after moving in. I wasn’t sleeping well, I felt lost and ungrounded, I felt useless. And the worst part ~ in my darkest moments, I felt super alone…like I didn’t know who to turn to for emotional support.
- Having all this quality time with the fam – this has been both positive and negative for me (mainly because of space).
- The amount of noise that comes from the televisions and phones all the time – I feel like it’s so hard to get peace here. My parents are generally watching TV or are on their phones or the iPad at least for 50% of the day with the sounds permeating through all the walls and even into the backyard.
- Not having space and my own physical space – they say humans naturally need space…and when my parents had 5 days off during the Easter break, I was on the brink of exploding and in desperate need of space and silence. Seriously, I couldn’t wait until they returned back to work on Tuesday. Lately there’s been so many public holidays so I’ve been seeing a lot more of my parents. But it’s not only that, my parents have been home a lot more because their usual places of outing are closed. I can handle small doses but 24/7 of loud talking, TV’s, iPads, videos and loud clanking of dishes drives me insane.
- Paranoia – deep down, I’m a paranoid germaphobe. That means that I’m petrified of potentially passing corona to either of my parents. I guess it comes from the uncertainty over the last few days. But I need to stop fearing this so much and accept that if we live with each other, we will all probably get it (this won’t stop me from taking precautions though).
- Living with 2 people who live such a different lifestyle to me – again, the noise is a huge factor into my struggles but there’s also the issue of when I do something foreign and ‘unusual’ to my parents, I feel like my actions are constantly being questioned. Being questioned all the time is exhausting!
- Having to re-adapt all over again and not being able to truly do things the way I want without it clashing with my parents’ way of living
- Not feeling grounded – it’s so hard to feel grounded when you’re not in your own space.
- Losing motivation to do all the things I had motivation to do while in isolation – in a way I kind of feel like I’ve failed myself.
- The unlimited supply of food and junk food – I’m trying hard to get fit and healthy right now but having unrestricted access to junk food makes it so much more difficult to achieve my goals.
- Confronting old scars – this is super deep and personal and I’m not going to get into it but it’s definitely played a part in my emotional state (being here has triggered some old and deep emotional pain).
3. The pleasant and unpleasant surprises
- Having all this quality time with the fam – I really didn’t expect to see my parents so much for some weird reason
- My Chinese is getting better
- The amount that my motivation levels have declined- I haven’t really been drawing or playing guitar ~ though it doesn’t help that I broke one of the strings which I need to replace. *update* I’ve now replaced the string but still not really playing…and I have barely drawn at all. I haven’t even really been motivated to do my blog. The only thing which has stayed consistent is exercise and eating healthy.
- Walking to the shops has actually been so nice- normally I would just drive to the shops because it’s not the most exciting or visually appealing walk in the world…but in these circumstances, it’s been so good for my soul.
- That my parents still have a job- for some reason both my parents’ workplaces haven’t shut down even though everywhere else seems like it has.
- My parents’ quick acceptance of the situation (especially mum)- my mum is a classic Asian parent who likes going to the Casino. But it’s more of a social outing and community she has with her friends there which they religiously attend. But like everywhere else, it shut down. When I heard this, I was a little bit concerned that it might have negative repercussions on my mum to lose a huge part of her life but when I asked my mum how she felt about it, she seemed so accepting of the situation. She said- “It’s fine. I can use this opportunity to save lots of money.” It was an answer I did not expect. I was so impressed by her attitude and quick acceptance of all these sudden changes. It’s much faster acceptance than I have. My mum even doesn’t mind the prospect of being stood down at work. To me, it’s pretty amazing how my parents don’t seem to make a big deal about most things. I think they understand what’s the most important (they are, however, fortunate enough to have very little financial burden in their life).
- The level of hygiene I feel like I have to implement for my own peace of mind- ok…I knew I had to be more cautious but the length I’ve gone to just to be sure I’m not spreading germs around is pretty insane. I wipe anything I buy or receive from the outside world. I’ve bought a vegetable and fruit wash. I even changed our dish detergent and laundry power to have disinfectant properties and of course…I’m washing my hands an excruciating amount every single day.
- I haven’t beaten myself up for being less productive each day- even though I don’t feel the greatest about having less motivation, I don’t feel bad about being unproductive. It’s a nice surprise for me because in a covid-free world, I’m usually always striving to do a million things in a day and to make the most of every second (normally if I don’t achieve all those million things, I feel super guilty).
- How much my mum talks on the phone- ok…I knew she spoke on the phone a fair bit (she calls my grandma every day)…but had absolutely no idea that she would speak on the phone THIS much. For me, it’s actually crazy how much time she spends on her phone.
4. My solace (the things which have helped me in the time of my emotional despair)
Instead of going out to spend lots of quality time with friends and spending time amongst nature, I’ve been filling my days at home with writing, creative cooking, gaming, exercising (especially pilates), learning about nutrition, doing a intermittent fasting experiment, food journaling, Netflix or Masterchef, occasional catching up with friends…and sadly, feeling sorry for myself.
- Online shopping
- Writing & journaling – this is an everyday ritual for me. Every morning with my coffee, I write my thoughts and the things I’m grateful for. I’ve even taken it a step further and started a food journal.
- Guitar – when I do have the time and motivation, practising and learning guitar is definitely one of those things which help ground me into the present.
- Being able to see friends – I’ve had a couple of social distancing outings with friends which has been a treat ~ when I left for the first outing, to go into a park in the city, everything felt surreal. I felt so weird being out and driving around further than a local shop. For some reason, it felt like I’d been finally released from captivity and seeing sunlight for the very first time in years.
- Going for walks – more recently in the last few days I have changed it up a little ~ I’ve walked instead of driven to the local shops which has been really nice and yesterday I sun-baked in my backyard. That was a treat!
- Meditation– I’ve downloaded a few apps and started a free trial with Headspace, which has motivated me to do it almost daily to make the most of the free trial. But once the trial is over, I don’t think I’m going to pay for it even though I’m enjoying the app a lot (I don’t like paying for Apps).
- Exercise – for me this is SUPER important ~ exercise has truly been probably one of my biggest salvages ~ I love the dancing and pilates and really can feel my body getting stronger (especially Les Mills dance, Blogilates and Yoga with Adriene)
- Nutrition – this is equally as amazing as exercise for me. With the help of the internet, YouTube and the app Cronometer, I’ve done so much reading on nutrition and learnt so much
- Cooking – no words needed 😉 cooking is the best!
- Netflix and TV – during a time of well, time ~ Netflix or any streaming page is a saviour. I’ve continued with my Spanish series and have moved onto Disney movies. But most importantly right now ~ the latest Masterchef series is bringing me much joy and foodspiration. I mean, just look at the pannacotta I ended up making for my dad’s birthday
- Social media – especially a small side project I’ve decided to do browsing through my fondest memories from my travels- I call it a photo-essay of my best travel memories
- Phone games – this is a little bit more of a recent one. I got inspired when I saw my brother post he was playing the remake of Final Fantasy VII…and then my mum asked me to help her download some games. It got me browsing, downloading and playing. But sadly, I don’t feel as much joy from games as I used to and end up feeling like I’m wasting a whole bunch of time. As entertaining as they were while they lasted, I ended up deleting everything I downloaded.
Apart from these things, I’ve also found that I’m constantly checking Facebook, Instagram and my mail to see if there’s anything new or interesting…or maybe someone interesting to talk to…but every day to me more or less feels the same. Nothing is new. Nothing is changing…and it’s making social media boring as bat shit to me. If I start scrolling down my feed for even 5 minutes, my face starts to cringe.
Well, that’s basically the end of my list of the highs, the lows, the surprises and saviours.
I will end this series by saying that it’s been a very interesting experience being stuck somewhere and then released not long after. You get stuck, then you adapt…forming this certain way of living for 14 days…But before you know it, you have to do it all over again. In a way, I felt like I was becoming institutionalised. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Green Mile, you’ll understand what I mean…(for all those non-Green Mile fans ~ all I’m saying is that I got used to iso-life and being in confinement. I got used to being alone.
I hope you enjoyed this summary and my mini blog-series 😊 I’d love to hear if anyone’s been in a similar situation or felt the same feelings as me (please comment below if you have).