James

  • Countries Visited: 53
  • Travel Wishlist: Sri Lanka, India, Palau, More of Europe
  • Locked down in: Daylesford, Victoria, Australia.

The world was completely open to me; I was free to travel wherever I wanted, whenever I want. Now thanks to Coronavirus, I live alone in my Nana’s old house, in a small regional town in Victoria, away from family and friends.

Original post published October 5th (Scroll down for updates)

It’s Sunday 22nd March 2020. I’m at my friend Ilai’s house in Nadi, Fiji. The Australian Survivor crew has all been evacuated and I’m on an early morning flight back to Australia. Ilai and I have stayed up all night drinking beers, laughing at the tattoos we had given each other 2 weeks earlier and wondered what the heck is going to happen with this Coronavirus thing. I was an emotional wreck just after 7.03am when the below photo was taken, crying as I hugged and kissed Ilai goodbye not sure when I would return to Fiji and see him again. That was the last time I’ve hugged or had beers with a friend.

Taken March 22nd 2020, in Fiji with my good friend Ilai.

The world was completely open to me; I was free to travel wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Now thanks to Coronavirus, I live alone in my Nana’s old house, in a small regional town in regional Victoria, away from family and friends. I’m not sure when I can next jump on a plane and head to my next adventure.

I’m currently living in Victoria which has been in various stages of lockdown for almost six months now, without an end in sight anytime soon. I feel lucky that I got a cheeky two week working holiday to Fiji earlier in the year before life was turned upside down overnight. What followed was a stressful and chaotic journey back to my Nana’s house where I had to quarantine for 14 days. Reality really hit home on the 14th day when an old friend passed away from Coronavirus. Shit just got real. When I moved into this house at the end of March, I didn’t think I’d still be here in September. I now face the fact of living here indefinitely. State borders are closed and who knows when I’ll be able to travel to another country again. So I’m facing the reality of not flying anywhere anytime soon.

It should come as no shock to anyone that knows me that I love Survivor. Survivor is a reality show where a group of strangers are deserted, usually on a tropical island, where they must live together and vote each other out. There are challenges that test the players strength, agility and endurance amongst other things. Ultimately one player walks away with $1Million. As a 14 year old, it introduced me to these foreign locations around the world. Beautiful, white sand beaches, overgrown jungles, bright blue oceans and fresh coconuts. But what hooked me the most was the sense of adventure. In my opinion, it’s the greatest show ever and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on both the US and Australian Versions of the show.

Jeff Probst, host of US Survivor, thrilled to meet me!

In a few weeks I should be running my 20th annual kids Survivor-Camp. It was going to be a big deal celebrating the 20th year of the camp in 2020. Unfortunately the harsh restrictions here in Victoria mean they’ll be no school camps or similar for a long time. I’ve put so much into the camp over the years it sucks that I can’t share it with a bunch of awesome kids this year. What I do know is running the camp’s is something I am very passionate about and plan to continue for a long time to come.

Survivor encouraged me to save my hard earned KFC dollars to travel the world and go on my own adventures.

My parents encouraged me to travel and see the world, much like they did. I didn’t fall in love with the UK like my parents did, but still managed to turn a ‘Gap Year’ into 15+ years of travel and adventures. Call me crazy but I love flying. Ensuring I have a window seat so I can see a new city, new country or new landscapes from an aerial view. I love watching movies, I love the food and also taking full advantage of the all you can drink menus.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is my identity. I believe this has been travelling and Survivor for many years and now I face a world where neither of these things are possible. I also know I’m a caring person who has spent more time worrying about my friends and family over the years than worrying about myself.

A friend of mine told me that it’s common for men in their 30’s to have an identity crisis.  Men tie their identity to their careers; when the security of their identity is threatened by a lack of work (be that Coronavirus or not), the risk of stress increases greatly. Here’s an informative article I found that you might like to read..

https://www.elitedaily.com/life/culture/the-third-life-crisis/1061459

I’ve read stats about 75-80% of 25-35 year olds have experienced a ‘quarter life crisis’ or a ‘third life crisis’. That’s a huge amount of the population! So thanks to Coronavirus I find myself prematurely trying to figure out some big picture life plans, that I thought I could keep on hold for a few more years. I want to work in a job that I love, but I can’t do that right now. So I’m left wondering what am I going to do with the rest of my life.

Travelling and working overseas has introduced me to some of my closest friends. I have a habit of forming very close friendships with people very quickly. I form deep connections that make it heartbreaking to say goodbye when these adventures come to an end. Over the past few years I’ve paid tribute to these friendships and adventures with a series of tattoos. I currently have nine tattoos, eight of which are related to my adventures overseas. Four of these are matching tattoos with close friends I’ve formed bonds with whilst overseas. They are daily reminders of my travels and friendships I’ve made.

My first matching tattoo, in Samoa, with Xavier.

Recently, work has allowed me to travel both domestically and internationally. That’s been the appeal of working in television. Now some of the appeal has gone. Especially living in Victoria at the moment, I genuinely feel discriminated against whilst applying for jobs because of where I live. I’ve had emails ignored, phone messages go unanswered, and people telling me on the phone we can get you into Sydney or Queensland and then I never hear anything back. I feel like I’m just being brushed off and that’s hard to take when it happens over and over again. So I’ve been in two minds about continuing this pursuit of working in TV, which I have loved, or choose another option, which I’m currently trying to work out what that could be.

I’ve been living this Peter Pan lifestyle of going on adventures, living out of a backpack and travelling the world. I thought I’d found the perfect job which made me happy, working with a great group of people.

For the past 15 years I’ve filled up multiple passports with stamps from my worldwide adventures. I’ve been on Safari’s in Africa, Hiking the Inca Trail of Machu Pichu and snorkelling tropical reefs.

While I’ve been on all these adventures, living out of a backpack and travelling, friends my age have been going to university, buying houses, investment properties and mortgages and starting families. We are taught to follow a system from a young age with our school systems. We grow up doing whatever we are told and we don’t have to live this way. Just because other people my age have a house, family, mortgage, business etc doesn’t mean I have to, does it? We don’t have to follow a system once we leave high school. We can do whatever makes us happy.

I’ve been asked why I’ve travelled so much and haven’t ‘settled down’. That’s a question I can’t easily answer. While in the past I’ve imagined living in a house with a wife and kids, I no longer know if that’s what my future holds. And I’m okay with that right now because the world is a scary place. Also, we are led to believe that ‘settling down’ means getting married and having kids and paying a mortgage. Why? I think in the past I’ve been too selfish for any of that. I’ve been independent and doing whatever makes me happy. So is my happiness the compromise for ‘settling down’? How many of my friends who have ‘settled down’ are happy I wonder? The number of single mums I see on Tinder certainly makes me question this.

My Tribewanted family, taken on Vorovoro, Fiji 2009

The future is scary for traveller’s like me. There’s a sense of feeling walls around us and a lack of freedom (literally). We can no longer get in a car and go for a drive, or plan our next overseas adventure to look forward too. What hurts the most is not being able to visit old friends.

Travelling won’t be the same again. There will no doubt be new restrictions and rules in place when travelling. But I don’t know if they’ll be the same excitement to travel like there once was before because the world is now a much scarier place. I feel lucky to have been able to travel to as many countries as I have. I don’t know if and when it will be safe to travel back to places like Italy, London and anywhere in the US.

By September I was supposed to be back in Fiji. That hasn’t happened and I’m not confident of being able to go overseas again anytime soon. Right now I can’t even leave the state. I was looking forward to getting back to work on Survivor and seeing my friends everyday and making the best bloody TV show we could.

If there was a prize for who is having the shittest 2020, someone special to me in Sydney would win. It breaks my heart what they have had to go through this year AND having to deal with it all during a pandemic and lockdowns. I’d love nothing more than to give them a big hug but not even that is possible at the moment. There’s so many more friends who I am also looking forward to giving a big hug. One day soon hopefully.

I was looking forward to seeing one of my best friends Ilai in Nadi and getting more tattoos.

I was looking forward to going to New Zealand for New Years to see Xavier, who was the original matching tattoo friend.

In 2021 I am supposed to be returning to the US for a 10 year Camp Nebagamon reunion. During my last summer there, I made a pact, with the 15 campers in my cabin, to return to the camp in 10 years time, and dig up a time capsule we had carefully prepared and buried at camp. It’s been something I’ve been looking forward to for the last 10 years.. Now I don’t know if it will be possible for me to travel to the US in 2021 and catch up with all my old camp friends #KTFB

My biggest regret in life – now this will sound strange to most people – is not going to Alcatraz when I was living in San Fran for like four weeks. I had the opportunity and left it too late and tickets were all sold out. My biggest travel companion Sam has promised to go with me when I next return to the US (which is hopefully for the Camp Nebagamon reunion in 2021). It probably sounds like a silly regret to most people, but for a passionate traveller, it’s something that has weighed on me for over ten years.

With the campers at my last year at Camp Nebagamon, Wisconsin 94849 – 2011 #KTFB

Life as a single person during Coronavirus has its ups and downs. Social media means I can stay in touch with people, but I’ve also realised it can be very toxic and time-wasting. My fingers hurt from swiping right on tinder. I’ve unfollowed a lot of people and accounts lately and found myself spending less time on social media because it’s depressing. There are so many horrible things going on in the world and my newsfeeds are full of people struggling on a daily basis. I have become closer with some friends but have found that I’ve lost contact with many more, as we are all dealing with the pandemic in our own ways. I did start following accounts that share positive/inspirational quotes so that they keep popping up in my newsfeed instead of other things.

This is hard for me to reveal and talk openly about but I’ve recently started taking anti-anxiety medications and seeing a Psychologist. Mind you, it took 7 weeks to organise an appointment close enough in proximity for me to attend. It then took a further 4 weeks to rebook, because there are just no available appointments. There must be so many Victorians seeking help right now and the system is not coping.

Luckily for me I have a number of close friends who have been taking the same medication for a while and not only encouraged me to go and take the difficult steps to go and speak to a doctor, but have also been a great support as I’ve adjusted to the new medication. The only side effects I’ve had were a lack of appetite and drowsiness in the first few weeks, but those have subsided lately. Some days I wake up and feel great. Other days not so much.

The weather has certainly played a big part in that. This is the first winter I’ve lived through in about 8 years, and I’ve ended up in one of the coldest places in Australia. (It snowed recently, on September 25th. I spent all winter here and didn’t see that much snow) I’ve recently watched a TV Show called Broad City which had a great episode about Seasonal Affective Disorder and I have not related to a character in a TV Show more than I did watching this episode. Now, I have not been diagnosed as having SAD, but people with it struggle with depression during certain times of the year. The cold weather and lack of sunshine makes me more depressed than normal and it’s definitely a reason I’ve avoided a full winter for so long.

Social Media has been a double-edged sword the last few months. While I’m sure we are all grateful that it exists in 2020 and has helped us keep in touch with friends and family around the world, it’s also been very hard to see friends from around the world sharing photos of them out and about still going on hikes and holidays and spending time outdoors. It’s almost as if there isn’t a deadly pandemic happening in the world. I’ve been jealous of my friends in the US who have at least had warm summer weather the last few months and very little restrictions. While it’s nice to see friends happy, it’s made me quite depressed. Maybe it’s a bit of FOMO. As a result, I’ve stayed off social media and lost contact with many friends because seeing their posts makes me feel even more sad about what is happening and my own situation. And if you have not yet seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix, that’s another reason I’ve stepped back from social media.

I haven’t told many people but I have made a friend who lives nearby through unconventional ways. We have become somewhat close over the past few months and he has been a really big support for me. I don’t think I would be in as good a head space as I currently am, if I had not met him and had someone to talk to. After a tough few months he recently said “I think we’ve really bought out the best in each other lately” and that has really stuck with me.

I’m imagining most people who know me have seen my adventures and think I’m genuinely a fun person to be around. One look at my social media and you’ll see it’s full of happy photos with friends. And after reaching out to a number of people over the last few weeks, I’ve been shocked at how many people have been silently going through their own mental health battles. I’ve been surprised to learn close friends have been on anti-depressants and seeing Psychologists for years, and I had no idea.

There’s a saying I now believe in which goes something along the lines of “check on your friends and family who seem the happiest, because looks are deceiving.” I have a feeling of empowerment now to be open about taking anxiety medication and seeing a Psychologist. I NEVER thought I would be doing either of those things, but no one expected 2020 to turn out the way it has.

I’m also trying to figure out what my Identity is if I can’t travel or work on Survivor. I’ve been questioning what I want in life. My values, passions, career choices, what makes me happy, sexual identity, where I see myself in five years, ten years etc. I thought I had all these things figured out. It turns out I don’t.

I want to be open about my mental health because if anyone else is feeling a similar way or scared to speak up and see someone, I want them to know that it’s okay to have these feelings. I’m here to talk anytime. And what’s scary is most people don’t realise how many others are going through something similar, in silence as well.

For months we’ve been telling each other to ‘stay positive’, ‘look on the bright side’, and ‘the world will go back to normal’. But there’s a time where you just can’t believe that anymore. And that’s something I’ve been feeling a lot lately. I’ve been trying to focus on some of the positives of lockdown. I’ve become so much closer to a select few friends who have really been a rock to me over the last few months.

I know I’m lucky to have my own place, and not have to deal with kids and work etc, so I should be utilising this time. But finding the motivation to get up and do something is fucking hard some days.

My ‘Day Off Crew’ Fiji 2017. Never had more fun with a group of friends! With me in tattoo form every day.

My body image is something I haven’t been happy with for a while. Since this time last year, I have lost over ten kilograms. As much as I love working in television, it’s not always a healthy lifestyle but I’m going to be more conscience of living a healthier lifestyle if and when the show is back up and running. I’ve been buying fresh fruits and vegetables and cooking healthy meals. I’ve also significantly cut down on drugs and alcohol which I’ve relied on in the past when I’ve felt anxious and depressed.

I’ve really felt for other people living alone during these times. I can sleep in, eat what I want, watch what I want and walk around in my jocks. But some days it is hard being all on your own.  Especially for a social person who enjoys being around other people.

The world was once open and I had very little restrictions on where I could go and when. I’m worried post-Covid life will not be the same. I expect many restrictions on travelling and working overseas.

So now I’m faced with these thoughts about what my identity will be if I can no longer travel or work on Survivor. What kind of person do I want to be? I think the best thing for me now is to stop stressing about finding work and focus on my own health and happiness for the foreseeable future. I’m at an age where if I don’t start looking after my body, there may be consequences later in life. So I’m calling it a mini retirement.

If I could travel back in time and show my 20 year old self a glimpse of 2020, and how miserable it might be, I still wouldn’t change anything I’ve done over the last 15 years. Would I give up all of my adventures? Hell no! Hopefully there’s more adventures to come, but right now, I’m not too sure when they will be. And it sucks not being able to plan the next holiday and have something to look forward to.

The choices I’ve made to travel over the last 15 years of my life are now catching up to me. I’ve had lots of time to think lately and wondered if there’s other people out there feeling the same way. Other single people, other travellers and fellow adventurers, who might feel lost, anxious, unsure about the future and what it holds. I’ve reached out to over 40 friends around the world to be a part of My Life In Lockdown project. While at times it’s been heartbreaking hearing what people have been going through, it’s also empowered me to put all my focus on getting this website up and running and raising some money for mental health.

Talking to friends around the world, I know people are doing it much tougher than me right now. So I wanted to write my thoughts down in the hope someone else can relate and perhaps start some conversations about mental health. Times are tough for everyone and I think we will all be dealing with the effects for years to come.

Stay Safe Everyone xo

Update Published November 2nd

As I sit down to write this, I am reflecting on how good I’ve felt the last few weeks. The best I’ve felt in months.

  • I finally feel like I’ve done something productive with my time in Lockdown. I started this project and have raised money for a mental health charity. Although it has been overwhelming and heartbreaking to read what some of my favourite people in the whole world have been going through, it has also empowered me to channel my time and energy into the project and help others share their stories.
  • I am also feeling the healthiest I have in years. I’ve lost over 15kgs since this time last year. The only exercise I have done is walking and the occasional squats. So, I have to attribute most of this to my healthier eating and cutting out alcohol.
  • It’s been about 12 weeks since I started taking anti-depressants so I’m sure they have helped me feel better as well. At my last Psych visit, my Psych even said I look much happier and healthier since my last visit.

Although Melbourne and Victoria are coming out of their Lockdowns, the rest of the world is not so lucky. So, the My Life In Lockdown project is going to continue.

I’ve reached out to my Melbourne friends to see if they want to offer any advice or recommendations for others who are still in Lockdowns or about to go back into them.

I want to publicly thank a few people for their support over the past month in helping me get this project up and running.

  • Mike has been the only friend I’ve seen in person in months. If you read my full blog above, I mentioned he recently said ‘I think we have bought out the best in each other lately’ and this statement has stuck with me. I’m very grateful for his friendship during these difficult months. We are in the early stages of starting our own podcast which is exciting! More on that in the coming weeks…
  • Ross, my wonderful friend in Sydney who has had a terrible 2020. He bravely shared his story on the website and many of you reached out to check he is ok. I can assure you he is doing well. We talk almost every day. He has been my number 1 supporter with this whole project.
  • Dylan, my brother, for all your social media advice.
  • Mike, Ross, Dylan and Paul – thanks for all your editing help with my initial story.
  • Mum, the official My Life In Lockdown photographer – thanks for taking all those photos!
  • Jason, for all your support in setting up the website.
  • Fata for designing the incredible logo! You bought my vision to life and it’s so cool to see photos of people wearing shirts and hats with the logo!
  • And a HUGE thankyou to everyone who has bought something from the My Life In Lockdown store. $10 from each purchase will be donated at the end of each month to Mind Limited Australia, a Mental Health charity here in Victoria. The store will remain open so if you are reading this and have not yet purchased something, I encourage you to do so. The Mental Health system here is still very overwhelmed. Items can be shipped internationally.
  • I have reached out to over 100 friends around the world, many of whom are currently writing their own stories to share. I feel blessed to know so many people around the world who have kindly offered to share a little insight into their lives in what has been such a crazy and unpredictable year. To those who have already shared their stories, I thankyou for sharing your personal stories, the success of the project so far wouldn’t have been possible without you.

If you, or someone you know is interested in sharing a story, please get in touch.

Alternatively, if you have a Recommendation for a book to read, tv show to binge watch, podcast to listen too, new skill to learn, an amazing movie you’ve watched, a game you’ve enjoyed, or anything else you can recommend to others to help pass the time during lockdowns – please reach out, I’d love to share it on the website.

On the job front, I’ve basically given up on work for the rest of the year. After being ignored and given the run around too many times RE: TV jobs the last few months, I’ve started to look for other work locally where I am. Unfortunately, most of the jobs advertised I am not qualified for and there are hundreds of people applying for each job. I’m lucky I have some savings and my recent tax return to live off in the meantime.

Although I still have a massive urge to travel and there are so many friends I want to visit and new places I want to see, I am grateful that I am home in Australia right now.

I must admit I haven’t paid close attention to what is happening in the rest of the world, as Melbourne’s extreme lockdowns have been dominating the news here.

So, after some online research, here are some terrifying facts I’ve found:

30 of the 53 countries and territories in Europe have recently recorded their highest daily number of infections.

The UK is seeing an increase in cases as a 2nd wave affects most of Europe.

The USA has recorded the world’s highest official death toll and currently has the highest number of confirmed cases.

While Peru and Israel are starting to open back up after case numbers have dropped, Canada and Russia have seen case numbers soar.

Argentina and Colombia have become two of only eight countries to record more than 1 million cases, and daily cases are still rising. Indonesia has recorded the highest number of deaths in South East Asia with almost 14,000.

I’m really proud of this little project I’ve set up and so excited to continue sharing stories from around the world.

I hope people find comfort in reading what others have been through and there’s hope that this will all be over one day soon.

Until then, stay safe, reach out to your friends overseas, be grateful for all the adventures you’ve already been on and the countries you’ve visited.

I know I sure am.

James

james@mylifeinlockdown.net

Update Published January 4th

Holy shit can you believe 2020 is over?!

It feels like it went extremely fast, yet also very slow… I’ve noticed a weird perception in time wherein a day can feel like forever, a week an eternity, yet the months seem to accumulate at an exponential pace. Weird.

A quick update from me:

I landed back in Australia and came straight to my Nana’s old home on March 22nd last year. I definitely didn’t think I’d still be here 10 months later.

2020 was a rough year for Victorians. Spending over 100 days straight in hard lockdowns. A deadly 2nd wave… It’s been terrible. I have friends who have lost jobs, lost homes, lost family members. I know multiple people around the world who have felt the effects of Covid-19 first hand, including a few who have tested positive. Comparatively, I feel pretty lucky to have maintained my health and energy to be able to create this project – thank you so much to everyone who shared their stories.

At the start of December, Lockdowns in Victoria were eased, and for a few weeks we had some freedom. But now, due to an increasing outbreak in Sydney (that has now spread to Victoria), we may face further restrictions. It’s safe to say most people are living on a knives edge right now not knowing when things may change.

That’s been one of the hardest things this year, not knowing what the future holds. The uncertainty. As someone who values future planning and strategizing, one of the greatest challenges for me has been to embrace the discomfort of things being so chaotic, and understand that an ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances will be an invaluable skill for the challenges of the future.   

I’m currently waiting for work to start up again. At this stage, I’m feeling about 50% as confident as I have been in the past that things will go smoothly. That’s the kind of uncertainty I’m talking about. Given the speed at which borders can be closed, hotspots spread, etc., it makes sense to acknowledge that the plans are tentative, at best. I’m coping with that knowledge better than I have at any time in the past year, but it’s still there, and it’s still weird. That said, the work I’ve done through this project has been for mental health support, and I’m proud of the effort I’ve put into getting on top of my own mental health this past year. That’s something I will continue beyond this shit show.

I’m sure everyone was looking forward to 2020 ending, but are we really sure 2021 is going to be any better? Fingers crossed it is! If you have the energy, the resources and the time, I highly recommend placing a value on your mental health, as much as you would your physical health. I will be continuing to look after my Mental Health more in 2021. It’s a strange irony that a global health crisis brought me to the place where I can get on top of some old hangups, understand my mind and moods better, and focus on where I want to be (mentally and materially) in the next little while… for that I’m grateful. I’m also mindful, for everyone who is struggling and maybe can’t give themselves the care they need. I hope things get better.

Please continue to follow the project. There are more stories coming from around the world.

If you, or someone you know, might like to share a story about your Lockdown, please get in touch.

Stay Safe. Wear A Mask. Hoping we can all be united again soon.

James xo

Update published 21st March 2021

After 2020 ended, I was looking forward to 2021. Australian Survivor was starting back up and I was looking forward to finally returning to work and leaving the small country town I’d been living in since March last year.

Tomorrow (March 22nd) marks one year since I arrived back in Australia and started my 14 days of quarantine. You can read my previous posts above to read more about my life in lockdown in 2020.

Today I’m writing about the last 3 weeks of my life and how traumatic, difficult and scary they have been.

I started work on the 1st of February in Sydney. I was so excited to return to work and the job that I love. I was catching up with friends and going out to pubs and restaurants, which felt really, really strange after being isolated and alone for so long in 2020.

My year was all planned out with work, my annual kids Survivor-Camp was booked in after being postponed for the past 2 years. 2021 was looking great.

Saturday 27th February I woke up with a sore wrist. I thought I had slept on it funny. It was my last weekend in Sydney before flying out to the Aussie Outback for Australian Survivor. I didn’t think much of the sore wrist as I spent the day catching up with friends and family in Sydney.

Sunday 28th February I woke up and my hand was much worse, but I had to pack to leave for Survivor the next day.

Monday 1st March I fly from Sydney to the outback. My hand is sore. But you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face because I was SO EXCITED to finally be back at work and on location.

A few hours later I was being taken to emergency at the local hospital as I was in so much pain. I left the hospital that night with some painkillers and assumed everything would be ok.

The next afternoon I was in tears, in incredible pain, as I went back to Emergency at the local hospital. Something was seriously wrong and my right hand was now twice the size of my left hand.

Over the next 10 days I was shifted from hospital to hospital and eventually ended up in Townsville where I spent 6 nights. The day I arrived I had surgery on my wrist to drain the fluid. It was my first time in hospital, my first time being put to sleep, and I spent the whole time alone.

Whilst I was in Townsville hospital, my Dad was in another hospital in Victoria receiving Chemotherapy as we recently found out he had cancer. My brother and his fiance were in another hospital with complications with their pregnancy and arrival of their first child.

For most of my time in hospital, I had a mystery infection. The doctors asked if I’d been bitten by anything, swam in any dodgy water, used any needles etc. The cause of the infection was a mystery.

I had recently got 3 new tattoos so thought maybe one of those could have caused the infection (they didn’t). I spent one whole day worrying I might have HIV as the doctors thought that might be the cause.

Hospital was miserable. I didn’t have any windows. I was in a room with 3 other patients, who changed regularly. Hearing grown men cry and scream in pain and see the agony on their faces, is not something I will forget anytime soon. A poor teenager next to me, who must have been in hospital for 2 or 3 weeks before I arrived, was constantly on the phone to his mum crying and saying how he was having some very horribly nightmares and didn’t wanna be alive anymore. All why this is going on, I am being woken up every 2-4 hours for tests, antibiotics, blood samples etc. Life was miserable.

2 weeks ago I was on top of the world and looking forward to the rest of the year, now I was alone in hospital with a mystery infection unable to move my right hand.

Eventually the doctors found the right antibiotics to treat my infection and I slowly regained movement in my fingers and hand.

I had 6 stitches in my hand and a pretty gnarly scar as a result.

After 10 days in hospital I was finally released and sent back to the outback to return to work. I was just so happy to be back around friends and back at work and out of hospital.

The same day that I was released from hospital, I became an Uncle. It was a very emotional day. My brother Dylan and his partner Jess welcomed their first child Zody into the world, 3 weeks early. I can’t wait to meet him in person xo

I spent the next 7 days going into the local hospital each morning to be hooked up to a drip for antibiotics. My arms are covered in bruises and puncture wounds from all the needles that I’ve been stabbed with over the past 3 weeks. A few days ago was my last visit to hospital hopefully for a very long time.

It’s going to be months before I have full use of my right hand/wrist back, but I’m back at work, surrounded by friends, doing what I love.

I havn’t written the above for sympathy. I just wanted to update everyone on the craziness I’ve been through.

If 2020 and the last few weeks taught me anything, it’s that life can be turned upside down in a heartbeat. As corny as it sounds, you need to make the most of every day, because you never know when your world can be turned upside down.

Physically, I’m getting better each day, but mentally and emotionally it’s going to take some time to get over.

I’m very grateful for the support of my friends and family over the past few weeks and am feeling really happy being back at work. A special shout out to Mike, Ross and Sam. I love you guys xo

Stay safe everyone,

James

Update published 25th July 2021

I must first apologise that I have been slack on updating The My Life In Lockdown website over the past few months. I have been extremely busy with work and family matters.

It’s hard to believe that 2021 could have been worse than 2020, but sadly for the Atkinson Family that has been the case. And sadly, talking to a number of friends, they feel the same way.

My last update for the website was on March 21st, and a lot has happened since then.

Sadly, on July 13th, my Dad passed away, after fighting hard to beat cancer. I’ll forever be grateful that I had the opportunity to properly say goodbye, as did many family and friends. I was in the hospital room with mum when he peacefully passed away, halfway through eating a chocolate sundae with Mum xo.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Australia, we were only able to have 10 people at the funeral. The service was filmed and if anyone would like to watch it, you can do so here:

http://zapaproductions.com.au/Jsh92/the-late-robert-rob-atkinson/

Right now, Victoria is back in Lockdown, along with over half of Australia. Due to these restrictions, we have been unable to have visitors or see friends since Dad has passed. Whilst certainly making the whole situation more difficult, we have been overwhelmed with the support from friends and family around the world.

Here we are 18 months into the pandemic in Australia, and we are still dealing with lockdowns, quarantines and a disastrous vaccine rollout. I have no issues with getting a vaccine, and definitely plan too. However, I am not yet eligible to receive one in Australia (along with many other Australians). At the time of writing this, only 11% of Australians have been fully vaccinated.

My new nephew Zody, has bought so much joy to our lives, during the difficult months that have recently passed. Funcle James has been enjoying making him laugh and hearing him giggle.

At the start of June, we wrapped filming on Australian Survivor: Brains VS Brawn, which premiered a week ago. The team I work with was very supportive of everything I’ve been through over the past few months. For Survivor fans, there are EPIC new challenges, stunning locations, big blindsides. It’s an incredible season!

I have recently started work on my 10th Season of Survivor. A feat that is still hard to believe! I know Dad was proud of me for following my dreams and working my dream job.

As part of returning to work, I must complete 14 days hotel quarantine, when I fly back to Queensland on Monday. I will be updating the My Life In Lockdown Instagram Story each day if you would like to follow along.

I know many people reading this are in various stages of Lockdowns around the world. I also know how tough that can be on your Mental Health.

The My Life In Lockdown store is still open where you can buy hats, t-shirts and jumpers. 100% of profits are being donated to a Mental Health Charity in Victoria.

If anyone would like to share some of their own Lockdown stories, please get in touch.

Stay safe everyone.

James xo