It’s hard to be alone. For some of us, self-isolation is harder than it is for others. I’ve always thought I’m good at being alone, that I preferred staying inside all day and keeping my distance from the rest of the human race. This whole “isolation” thing seems like the introvert’s dream. It’s hard to focus on self-care when your mental health is deteriorating. Loneliness makes people depressed, sometimes. When you spend too much time by yourself, never leaving your house, you run out of distractions, and your mind starts to go haywire. There’s only so many books you can read or television shows one can consume before becoming a mindless zombie.
Being alone is nice, for awhile. It’s really difficult to distract myself from what’s going on in the world, and then it becomes really difficult to separate the worst-case scenario thoughts from the most-likely scenario thoughts. I’ve always been a bit of a catastrophiser, especially when it comes to other people. Even in a regular, healthy-ish society, I spend all my time worrying about things I can’t control (like the health of others). I’m stressed out about the fact that my son’s daycare is indefinitely shut down, and already I’m running out of ways to keep him entertained. It’s a cycle, too. He can’t go to school, so I have to find alternate babysitting, but I despise asking people to help me by looking after him, and so my anxiety about everything gets much worse. It’s not like I really need babysitting anyway; I got hired on at a new job, but I’m not allowed to start working due to the current state of society. This means I’ve got no income aside from what my income support benefits give me, and that’s not much. I suppose it could be worse. I could be getting nothing at all.
I’ve been cleaning everything. I clean my apartment from top to bottom once a week, which I would have done anyway, but there’s a different urgency to it now. I have hyperhidrosis, I’ve always washed my hands a hundred times a day. I sanitise all the toys, and countertops, and doorknobs, and surfaces, and electronics. People rarely come over, and we rarely leave, and it’s mostly a matter of prevention rather than elimination, at this point. I haven’t been particularly worried about my son or myself, we’re not at any higher a risk than anybody else. I worry about my eighty-something year old grandfather, travelling in Asia with his wife, and the travel bans, and what that could mean for him. I worry about my boyfriend, whose multitude of health issues make him much more likely to become much more sick, even though he hardly leaves the house at all. I worry about my son, not so much because of the virus, but because that’s just what I do. I worry, about everything, all the time.
Since this whole thing started, I’ve noticed sudden, distinct changes to my psyche. It’s a hard feeling to explain, a disassociation of sorts, which I’m not new to, but this feels different than the feeling I’d experienced before. At times when I’m not even particularly anxious – I’ll be sitting in bed, reading a book, for example – I get this feeling like the world is spinning, and my vision goes a little blurry. I get dizzy at random moments, so much so that I’ll nearly fall over just walking through my apartment. I feel a sense of disconnection, almost, from everything, even myself, it seems. I can’t pay attention to what people are saying when they’re speaking to me, and their voice sounds almost like it’s buzzing, and it can’t be made sense of. I’ve been getting frequent, tight pains in my chest, anxiety pains, the kind I get when an attack is coming on. My hands get quite shaky sometimes. At first, I thought it was my medication, and maybe it is, but they shake even when I haven’t taken it, or hours after I have. The other day, I dropped a few pills on the floor trying to get them out of the container. It’s unpleasant. It can be scary, as well.
Yesterday, I needed a few things from the grocery store, and I suppose I could have gotten them delivered to my house, but I’m very picky about my groceries, I’d much rather pick them out myself. My son is too young to stay home alone, and of course, he can’t go to school, so I had to bring him with me. He’s clean, as far as kids go; he doesn’t sneeze or cough without covering his mouth, and I make him sanitise his hands thoroughly and often. Anyway, I took him out in public, and an older woman began to complain loudly about children in public, spreading germs, making the problem worse, and it did upset me a little, for awhile, and then I moved on. I understand that people are afraid, and people find comfort in looking for things to blame for their fear, and that’s just human nature. It’s just not all of us have the luxury of working from home, or staying inside all day, every day, or whatever else we’re supposed to do to prevent further spread. I know I’m not the only one who begins to lose control of their mind being cooped up inside with no company other than their own thoughts. Not to mention, I have a four year old child who is easily bored. I’m doing my best.
I think what’s important to remember here is that the majority of people are afraid. Of course, there are those people who couldn’t care less, and carry on socialising and partying as if nothing were wrong, but most of us understand the gravity of the situation. I think it’s also important to remember that not everybody is able to self-isolate, for reasons such as work or mental health, and it’s a personal ordeal. As long as we’re all doing our part to look after ourselves and prioritise the health of ourselves and others, that’s all we can do. I still think mental health is more important than anything else. I still think we should ensure that is under control before we worry about what else there is to worry about.
Look after yourselves, people. Reach out, if you need to reach out. Find somebody to talk to who understands and will listen to how you’re feeling. Prioritise yourself, but don’t be unrealistic. There’s no need to panic shop. Stock up for two weeks, and leave the rest of the supplies for people who really, really need them. We need to work together to combat this.