Navigating The Emotions of Isolation

I had a lot of hopes for my first weekend in isolation. I was going to organize my closet, clean my kitchen, and finally start the book I’ve been meaning to write. 

Instead, I spent hours anxiously scrolling through top stories, Twitter, and Instagram, and piecing together the latest news and everyone’s opinions on COVID-19. I wanted so badly to dissociate with the current situation, but it was everywhere. 

I found an article on the link between diabetes and the virus and anxiously sent it to my dad, who has type two diabetes and is therefore more susceptible to the virus.

“Don’t leave the house,” I wrote in the subject line of the email. Selfishly, all I wanted to do was control his actions, and I didn’t think about how the article might impact him or whether I was adding to his own stress level. 

The situation makes me feel like I’m in my first year of university again. I call my mom at least twice a day, just wanting to hear her voice. I feel homesick, and just want to see her. 

My mom tells me that my grandma’s senior living facility has taken drastic measures to self-isolate all residents; no outside visitors are allowed in. I can hear the sadness and worry in her voice when she tells me this. She just wants to see her mom, just like I do, and she doesn’t know when that will be. I don’t know the answer, no one does, and I’m panged with the crushing feeling of uncertainty.

Right now, this is how every hour, minute, day feels like.

My heart feels heavy as we slowly lose access to everything familiar. 

Kailey Buchanan

Last Sunday, the company I work for announced a mandatory work-from-home policy, and the date that we will be back in the office is unclear. My mind started to spiral. How will this affect our productivity? Will our company have to cut back on margins? Will our jobs be safe? Will mine be cut?

I watch daily as more businesses follow suit, complying with social distancing precautions. My local gym, yoga studio, acupuncturist, and naturopath all announced they were closing their doors until further notice. One friend texted me, panicked by the decision to close schools and daycares until September, “What will I do with my child now that I have to work from home?” 

My heart feels heavy as we slowly lose access to everything familiar. It’s all so bizarre. All of our lives have been shaken the fuck up and we have no idea when it will get back to normal. 

My regular routine is out of balance. I’m off balance. And frankly, I’m at a loss.

My brain creates the worst-case scenarios of everything. And I’ve stooped pretty low over the past few days, having multiple meltdowns and cries on the couch.

Kailey Buchanan

Like a lot of others, it has been hard on my mental health. I am a habitual worrier. My brain creates the worst-case scenarios of everything. And I’ve stooped pretty low over the past few days, having multiple meltdowns and cries on the couch. I worry about contracting it myself, being autoimmune compromised. I worry about losing access to my physician and therapist, who announced that for the foreseeable future they’re moving their services online and may need to prioritize patients. I worry about dropping back into my depressive patterns; a state that I’ve been trying to pull myself out of for the past year. I worry about how this will impact my relationship with my fiance, now that we’re forced to battle for space in our tiny apartment to work remotely. He has supported me so much already over the past year; would he have the energy to continue doing so? Would I be able to support him?

There is a silver lining, and it’s the true value of human connection. We may not be able to physically connect, but we need each other now more than ever.

It has made me realize how much I value my relationships, and how my conversations and connections suddenly feel more authentic. I’ve been exchanging long emails with my aunts and grandma, and video chatting with my girlfriends back home. Oddly, I feel more connected to them than I did a week ago — and maybe ever. 

It has made me realize there are a lot of things I buy out of necessity that don’t really matter, like a cute new shirt to wear out to dinner or useless home decor. It has made me appreciate the basics: the fact that I have a home and food in my fridge. 

It has made me realize that music, reading, and writing are cathartic and healing ways to move through emotion. 

It has made me appreciate my health and the access to an abundance of online resources, that help me roll out my yoga mat in the middle of the day and connect to myself when I need a moment to breathe and move my body.

It is teaching me to be more considerate by respecting others and how they’re dealing with this. The next time I send anyone an article or news story I will consider their boundaries. It is teaching me to start conversations with “How are you?” rather than “Did you hear…?” 

It is teaching me that as shitty and disheartening as everything may feel right now, we’re all navigating the uncertainty together. 

LET'S TALK: How are you feeling during isolation?

4 Comments

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

  1. Kailey, you are spot on, this is when you see the best and worst in people. Please remember it will get better, it may take a while and habits will need to change. People will have to rethink what is important and history is always the best reminder of how to face the future. Will power and common sense will win in the end and make us all better prepared for the future.
    Well done,
    Uncle Pat

  2. Way to go honey, your feelings came through strong and many are in that boat! Fear in our building is strong among some of the people, but I tell them fear is in the mind, it is how you react to it that matters. When you live in the moment and say right at this moment I am well, I am healthy and keeping those thoughts will change your brain thinking. Yes we do what we can like isolation and faith knowing this too shall pass, I turn the news on to keep up to date then switch over to my favorite music. I laugh at the good jokes and lock up my toilet tissue!!
    Great job honey!

  3. Wow my girl!! You shined a bright light and brought me to tears. I wish I could give you a big hug and a Mai Tai!
    You are an amazing writer and a truly inspirational women. Big love to you and Brian

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