Today marks one month of COVID19 self-isolation for me. My isolation began shortly after returning from my relaxing holiday in Cambridge and about 10 days before the UK Government’s lockdown was put in place. And, I am pleased to say, I am managing with relative ease.
I have been isolating because I am a vulnerable person due to my spleen-less state, and to a lesser extent due to my kidney disease and blood disorder. I have been avoiding as much human contact and interactions with the outside world as possible. I have been living in my own little bubble, in my own little world. Of course, it is easier to do because so many people are doing it, too. So, in a way, I don’t feel as isolated as I normally feel.
It has been a strange month, but I haven’t struggled with the isolation because I have been living a relatively isolated life for so long now that this feels mostly normal to me. I also live in the countryside where my cottage is surrounded by 250 acres of woodlands and fields. (I will leave the description at that, to keep my personal safety in check.) This means that I can easily get out into the fresh air for walks and runs, without navigating the crowds that seem to be common in more urban locations. I’ve also done quite a bit of working from home over the years, so I haven’t had to learn how to do that.
The differences over this past month are that I am not going out grocery shopping. Instead, my healthy housemate is doing my shopping for me. That way I can avoid the crowds to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. He is also taking extra precautions to stay safe, as he knows that I am high risk.
Another difference is that everyone is staying home right now. Where my loneliness and isolation are normally highlighted by watching (seemingly) happy families and couples interacting with joy and ease, it feels that we are all feeling sadness and isolation now – even those people who are isolating with others. And because we are all feeling this, I don’t feel that I am alone in the world; I am sharing this experience with everyone else.
Of course, not everyone is used to living like this. And that means that I am watching my extrovert family and friends struggle through living as introverts. As I said before, that has led to a bit of over-stimulation for me. But I think that people are getting used to it, and I have found ways to cope with the noise of isolation so that I can isolate “alone” a bit better.
Also, having started a new job two weeks ago means that I don’t have the time to get (overly) bored. Instead, I am keeping myself busy by working a (generally) standard Monday through Friday, 9-5 workday. That way I only need to find ways to fill my time at the weekends. And filling my time on the weekends is quite similar to life before social distancing and self-isolation practices became the norm. That means I’ve been running, walking around the estate, and doing a variety of craft projects.
There is talk that the university campus might be closed down through May or June, and plans are being put in place to support a shutdown that lasts until the autumn. That means that I might be here at the cottage in (near) isolation for some time to come, which makes it that much better as I am (mostly) comfortable with living an isolated life.
And now, as I settle down for on the eve of my second month of isolation, I am feeling mentally and emotionally strong. Or at least strong enough to face another month or two of isolation. Much like the ways in which I create detailed plans and structures to help me survive the extreme loneliness of spending the Christmas holidays alone, I have been working on building some routines that I hope will help me to survive this, too. I never would have thought “experienced lonely person” would be a survival skill. But there you have it!
I hope that all of you are coping, too. And if you’re struggling, please reach out. You are not in this alone!