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Living through COVID: a visual diary


“When COVID-19 landed on Australia’s doorstep, life changed as we know it - the history books were being written. It just so happens we were all going to be part of those history books.”


Tom working on his drawings that visually depict what it's like living through COVID-19

My life, like the lives of many others, has changed as a result of this pandemic and, upon reflection, it all happened in the blink of eye.


Stepping into the unknown


To this day I can recall the ‘see ya’ to friends in the office back in March 2020 that unknowingly would mean see you when I see you (or as it turned out, see you on a conference call later this year).


At the beginning of the pandemic, so much was unknown. From where I was in Melbourne, I witnessed the pandemic unfolding in China and in Europe and I was living it as an observer from afar.


I was so far removed from any real threat it would have been difficult to conceive the impact it would later turn out to have on my life, my family and friends and, more broadly, that of my fellow Aussies.


History in the making


When COVID-19 landed on Australia’s doorstep, life changed as we know it - the history books were being written. It just so happens we were all going to be part of those history books. Whether it be panic buying at supermarkets, curbing physical contact, working from home or putting faith in our government to choose wisely when balancing lives versus livelihoods. I knew this was not going to be an easy year.


To help me through this time, I set a task of creating my own version of that history book that depicts living life through a pandemic. It would be a visual diary of daily drawings of how I was feeling, the news being reported and the changes taking place that took us all by surprise.



More than 150 illustrations to date have shown how we have all been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. For some, it’s little things like not being able to get your hair done, visit the gym or eating too much in lockdown.

For others it has been more profound –losing a job, business or loved one. And on another level, it changed the daily rituals we often took for granted - visiting family and friends, the shake of a hand, a kiss ‘hello’ or the hug of a grandparent, less we put their lives at risk.


As a Victorian, then came the added pain of a second wave and going back into lockdown.


A reminder for future generations


All of this and more happened overnight and the reality is it has not necessarily gone away eight months later. I have realised I wasn’t conditioned nor was I ready to change almost every aspect of my life at the flick of a switch.


But that is the thing with living through a pandemic, you really have no choice and with each day you hope for the headlines to read ‘the end of the pandemic’ or ‘vaccine found’ and with that get back to a sense of normality.


I am hopeful when the time comes we can close the chapter on COVID-19 (if at all). These illustrations will be a reminder for generations to come of the rollercoaster ride that was living through a global pandemic in Australia.


Tom Opasinis is Insights Manager, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at ANZ


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