Mental Health and Isolation

First off, I’m not a mental health professional, but I am someone who does have their share of mental health challenges. I’m also an extrovert who needs her connections to feel like the world is right. But not every connection works for me right now.

I had big plans for this whole pandemic. I was going to get up, work out, get dressed, etc. Every day, no excuses. I was going to take the time to learn new skills. I was going to stay connected. I was still going on my wine trip.

Well, that hasn’t quite happened. The situation changed so rapidly that we went from all the wineries being opened, to all of them being shut within a day. Which meant that one of my dearest friends and I were deprived of not only a fun weekend doing something we both love, we were also deprived of a connection both of us were so desperately craving.

I haven’t been getting up, working out, getting showered and dressed, and then starting my workday. I worked out at lunch yesterday, showered, and pitched a project brief in the afternoon with a towel still on my wet hair. At least I’d put on proper clothing? I have been working out almost daily, though, and that’s had an incredibly positive effect on my mental health.

My children are not getting a proper education with me in charge. If anything, my work has become busier. So, while all all of us are home together, I‘m having a hard time finding time to interact with them between 9 to 5. We’re struggling here. While the new date for their return is expected to be May 12, I don’t see that happening.

I’m getting annoyed with all the memes and posts that say that if you don’t come out of this with a new skill, side hustle, a new language learned, etc., then you’ve not made the most of your time. Some folks still have day jobs, kids, relationships to maintain, and now we’re also doing more cooking, cleaning, entertaining of small children, and so much more. Some folks are essential workers who are just hoping to stay well, and to not bring this terrible virus home to anyone. Some folks are alone, isolated from friends and family, and are mentally suffering. Shaming people, even by accident for not doing MORE to better themselves, is not helping anyone.

I’m also getting annoyed with folks who aren’t being mindful of physical distancing rules. The only people ignore the safety of staying two metres away from others, this isolation will continue. And that just sucks.

But, what am I learning from this about mental health?

  • That it’s okay to feel every emotion in one day – I cycle between helpless, sad, hopeful, happy, excited about new projects, and every feeling in between.
  • That I may be more of a physical touch person than I thought. I miss hugging my partners more than I miss anything else. I miss cuddles and kisses on my head. I miss the feeling of someone’s arms around me after a busy day. I miss connecting over a glass of wine, and holding hands. For someone who always thought her love languages were words of affirmation and acts of service, I’m surprised by this one
  • That it’s okay to crave alone time. I live in a small apartment with three other people – two of whom are my own children. But that doesn’t mean I can ignore the fact that I too need my own time, no matter how brief that might be
  • That it’s okay to step away from my computer for a few minutes. And to sometimes, not feel like working at all. I have a corner of the couch – not exactly the best setup for a good workspace, and it’s hard to be in the middle of everything while trying to focus
  • That it’s absolutely alright to not feel like being social. I’m not a phone person at the best of times. I’m happier with in-person conversations. Spending hours on the phone with people is actually torture for me – even during a pandemic where phone and video is the only way to stay connected. Additionally, I’m surprised to see that my usual go-to folks are not my go-tos during this. I still love them, but they’re not the folks that make me happy right now. I am reaching out via video chat with folks who understand with support and love (and one dear one even sang to me! Sigh…)
  • That it’s okay to tune out of the 24/7 news cycle, social media, and even the people under your own roof. It’s healthy to take a time out
  • That those who are isolated alone are likely lonely right now. Check on them. Even if it’s just a simple text asking if they’re okay.

For me, yes, this has been a test of my mental health. If you’re struggling, there are resources out there. But the biggest lesson? Be kind to one another. Understand that what we’re doing may not be easy, but it’s an act of love for each other. We stay apart so that when we can all get together again, that no one is missing.

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