Have you ever eaten a tiny piece of raw chicken just to see if your body could take it? Driven with your eyes closed for a while just to see if you’d veer into oncoming traffic? Just me?
During the most alone time in my life, things got pretty bleak. I had moved to a new city with my husband who was deep in the throes of his final undergraduate year. But despite my downward spiral, I had convinced myself that everything was going great. How could anyone say the first year of marriage was difficult? There was no way for it to be difficult. Yet I was barely seeing my spouse and had no meaningful connections in my city. I was heading for dangerous territory…
Thankfully, since my days of reckless loneliness, I have spent some time in therapy and learned important coping tools — you know, like not potentially giving myself salmonella. I was equipped to deal with this isolation with healthy strategies…and yet I’m still struggling to deal with this pandemic isolation.
Being alone, totally alone, is hard. And yet, here we are. Alone, together. How are you doing?
In recent months, the small amount of camaraderie that social media supplies has become a lifeline for me. Pre-pandemic, I had deleted my Instagram and Facebook accounts, feeling that they were messing with my real life. Now, though, I don’t have a real life, and they are keeping me hanging on to the world outside of my four walls: sharing an encouraging word in hopes of believing it myself, seeing how others are passing the time, messaging a childhood friend to share funny or heartwarming memories. I’ve never been so grateful for the thing that I originally viewed as the catalyst for the implosion of humanity.
Music, meanwhile, has become more important to me than ever before. Will Smith and Sugar Ray make me feel carefree as I go for a drive to get out of the house. Jack Johnson calms me down when I feel my anxiety spiking. Kanye’s new album gives me a heaping helping of spirituality and an ample burst of energy. If you haven’t been using music to cope, do yourself a favor and let your soul breathe a little.
Also: keep showering. Maybe this seems like a lame piece of advice, but when you’re home 24/7, it can become an oversight. What’s the point, even? You’re not going anywhere. I’ll tell you what the point is: it feels good. We need to force ourselves to do basic things that make our bodies feel healthy and clean. When I was alone and sad, showering was something that was hard for me to do. When I forced this activity, I would be amazed how much it helped me cope with my life and feel good — even if only for a little while.
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are feeling alone, or anxious, or sad. It’s normal. Don’t feel guilty – like you have no right to have these feelings when there are people out there dealing with worse things in their lives. You are not alone. We are all having struggles. I see you. I feel you. Healthy coping strategies are so important.
We will get through these lonely days. One. Day. At. A. Time.