Exposure
July 2, 2021

A piece on lockdown 2.0 in Melbourne

By Ella Grift

I woke each morning, rather in the middle of the day than when the sun started to rise. I always felt exceptionally heavy in these late hours, almost like someone was weighing me down. This person weighing me down was latched onto me everywhere I went. It stopped me from doing the things I would normally do if it were gone. It utterly refused to let me eat healthily. It told me not to exercise. It told me to sleep into the early hours of tomorrow. It woke me up late causing me to suffer from harsh consequences. And never did it apologise. I could not rid of it, my new shadow. It was sewed into my flesh. Eating away at my positive thoughts. My new shadow was having a blast in this alternate life I now had. Because it knew, no matter what, if I said: ‘I will do it’, I would never actually end up doing it. I was entirely unmotivated.

I wore baggy clothes for hours during the sunny, warm welcoming days. I rarely went for a walk and actually made myself presentable. In my mind, there was ‘no point’. And that, my shadow knew. He was smart, he put thoughts into my head. Things like, “don’t worry, it’ll be over soon. Plus, you’re exercising in online dance. So, you don’t need to exercise now”. I simply agreed. I always rejected not to. I blocked out the reality of what was happening to me.

I was gaining weight. I was becoming entirely lazy. I was becoming depressed. And I didn’t even know it. Every new day we had to isolate I would wake, laze around a bit before finally eating. Then I would refuse to do school. Because ‘school’ was a whole new level of stress and anxiety. My shadow would tell me I simply did not need it. That it was, “a waste of time when I could be doing better things”. Yet, these ‘better things’ ended up only becoming worse for me. They were like a drug I took not knowing they would hurt my future self. So, I willingly took them every day. I watched TV. Lay in bed. Painted. Facetimed my friends for hours on end. Played games. Watched useless videos. Scrolled endlessly through my phone. And this became a repetitive pattern. I was stuck in an endless mysterious loophole.

I did not know when it would end. There really was no end. Which was the scariest part. Everyday went by slowly and painfully. My habits became addictions, and the consequences became more severe. But my shadow totally blindsided me, he was too smart. He squeezed tighter around my shoulders and my head. Causing me to feel even more stuck. Like I was being strangled by an invisible rope. This rope made my head spin and my stomach drop. It was petrifying and downright horrific. But it always won.

I was too weak. My parents were practically imprisoning me in my thoughts. They did not know how to support me, what I really needed. They hurt me unknowingly, threatening me with unreasonable actions. Making me feel more guilty that I was suffering. I did not blame them. They saw the hole I had dug myself into. The hole that kept getting deeper and deeper. But they did not know how to fix it.

And neither did I.


This piece has been written by my 15-year-old niece, Ella Grift. It provides insight into a teenager’s experience of Melbourne’s long lockdown and gives us all cause to pause and consider what impact lockdowns are having on our young people. This piece has been published with Ella’s consent.

Featured artwork: Lockdown Leaves a Shadow, by Ella Grift.

Well done Ella, I am so proud of your bravery in sharing this piece.

Karina Grift
Karina Grift
I am an artist and writer living in Melbourne, Australia. Professionally I am a freelance journalist, editor and media consultant. I paint and write for sanity and the challenge.

1 Comment

  1. Naomi Shippen says:

    Well done, Ella, on writing with such honesty about your life during lockdown. It’s such a hard time for young people when they’re forced into isolation when they should be exploring the world. Beautifully written and raw.

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