Dealing with Isolation That Isn’t By Choice

For some folks, this is the first time they’ve had their lives altered by forces outside of their control.  For others, nobody has ever been kind enough to tell them ‘no’ before. While it’s not physically painful, and having to be in one’s own home is the biggest loss of mobility, it can be a source of anxiety and depression.  It seems like it will never end.  For some of us, this is our normal. Medical disability has had me housebound except for MD appointments  (and earlier monthly grocery store trips, and maybe lunch with my dad once or twice a year) since 2004. I’m an RN. I’d like nothing better to be working.  But my body broke.  That’s just backstory stuff.  Here’s my point- you can get through this.  The ambiguity of when “normal” returns is unsettling, but there are things you can do to cope.  I won’t say ‘adapt’, because most of you will go back to being able to freely come and go as you wish.  ‘Adapt’ implies permanent.  ‘Cope’ deals with a temporary situation, whether it’s for a few weeks, or months.

Here are some ideas. 

Read “The Diary of Anne Frank” (again, if you’ve already read it).  It offers perspective, and also has simple things to do to cope with having to “hide away”.  It’s also a testament to resilience- and that nobody now will go to the gas chamber. Just read it.

Do your own journaling. It doesn’t have to be fancy or structured. Just write- words, sentences, phrases, doodle, or cohesive entries. It’s all good. And it will be your own history of what is going on in YOUR life. Let the despair have a voice. Let the funny things be memorialized. There is no right or wrong way to do it- just do what works for you.

Make a Coronavirus dart board. If you don’t have darts, do the old “pin the tail on the donkey” thing with push pins, safety pins, tiny nails, or whatever.  Draw your weapon of choice, put the pin in it, and go after that ugly virus. Ideas for ‘waapons’- soap, hand sanitizer, mask, vaccine, testing, sense of humor (viruses are so serious), or whatever you want to use to kill the virus.

Plan your “exit party”.  Make a list of the folks you’ve missed seeing the most, and plan a lunch, snacks and a movie, or whatever you like to do.  Get detailed. Know your budget- and aim for things that won’t break an already stressed ‘bank’.

Research online (use good sources- nothing with the credit cards they accept at the bottom of the article, or researchers you can’t find if you Google them).  Learn about the immune system (the skin is the first line of defense). Learn about medical testing procedures. Learn about anything that will help you feel less vulnerable to the unknown.  There IS a lot we don’t know with COVID-19- but you can get info on other types of disorders/diseases. Keep your brain active.

Consider the big picture. There are approx 330 million people in the US.  For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use 1,350,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in the US for today.  That’s an overall infection rate (that we know of) of %0.004.  That’s LOW.  It will rise, and each person who gets sick is not insignificant, but statistically speaking, the rate is miniscule.  Of those who get it, %0.05 die, Yes- EVERY death is a horrible loss. But you are SO much more likely to recover. 

LISTEN to the officials who are recommending specific measures to lessen the number of additional infections. If you are too special to wear a mask or follow the guidelines, then you could kill someone just by being stubborn and selfish. Don’t let that be what you’re known for.  Nobody is asking for a kidney, or the child you like the most. Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet between other people.  Don’t be stupid.  Everybody wants the country to go back to normal.  CLUE: that won’t happen overnight. The more people who get this virus, the longer there are restrictions on  restaurants, theaters, malls, salons, stores, sports games, etc.

You are not too young to get this.  Babies and very young kids have gotten the virus and died. Do you want to live, or try to convince people how you can’t get the virus?  At your funeral, they’ll just think you were a fool who wasted your life.

Be smart, and you’re going to get through this, and resume your life. Nobody knows exactly how long all of the ‘going back to normal’ could take- could be years for some businesses. But be thankful for what you have- not what you don’t.   Learn about how the US has come through nationwide crises in the past… we were fortunate.  And the folks who navigated WWII are considered “The Greatest Generation” for very good reason.
They bucked up and did what needed doing.

-This is from The History Channel
https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/us-home-front-during-world-war-ii

And, get help if you are feeling so overwhelmed that you’re often in a very dark place.
-The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET.
1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org

Free 24/7 support at your fingertips  US and Canada: text 741741.   UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 086 1800 280

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline    1-800-273-8255

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.”
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.”
― Gregory S. Williams

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