Social Distancing for People Who Social Isolate
I am an extreme introvert. If given the choice, I would choose to stay in my room most of the time because of fact that I recharge while being alone. In fact, being around people is extremely draining for me and my anxiety rises if in a social setting for too long. Right now, the corona virus has shut down my city, my county, and my state. Only essential personnel are allowed to be out of their homes. So, this is the best news ever for a socially awkward introvert like myself, right? Wrong. While I am an introvert who enjoys my time alone, I also struggle with prolonged depression and other mental health issues. As much as I enjoy being alone, I am also in the non-linear process of healing my own traumas and learning how to cope in a healthy way. This includes going outside of my comfort zone and surrounding myself with friends that can help. I go to a mental health group every week that helps me allow my higher power to guide me through my journey. This has been shut down. I see a therapist bi-weekly and now I can only see her through a screen. And most importantly, I see my friends very often who allow me to feel less alone and help me improve my mental health. I have not seen them in over a week. All of these tools combined with positive thinking and time alone help me to be the best version of myself. It is not the isolation that is affecting me as much as the idea that I can not leave even if I had the choice. It is the staring at the same four walls and not having my friends there to make me laugh. It is the being alone with my own thoughts and no way to escape.
So how is this solved? Obviously we can not just call off a global pandemic when we want to. Although we all wish we could, I'm quite sure that’s not how this works. We need to use this time to our advantage. When we are out of routine, we tend to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. If anybody has watched Frozen 2, in the wise words of the little snowman, Olaf, we need to control what we can when things feel out of control. First step is to make a new routine to gain back a little control. Wake up at a similar time everyday in the morning. When we have off from work or school it is easy to sleep until noon but it is important to allow yourself to have the whole day ahead of you. Another important step is to find things that help you feel happy. Release positive endorphins. Some of my examples of this are taking my dog for a walk, art, cleaning, and FaceTiming my friends. Find things that work for you. Lastly, it is important to keep a positive attitude. Now I know that all mental health survivors hate to hear the whole lecture about 'just be happy' because frankly that just makes things worse. But looking for positive things in negative times is what helps keep us sane. If you find yourself feeling down, try to name one positive thing about what you're doing that day, whether it be a clean room or the laugh you had with your friend on FaceTime. Know this hard time won't last forever. You can do it.
Like always if you are having negative thoughts please reach out. The suicide prevention hotline is open 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. And for judgement free chats please direct message me on instagram @delaneyyobrienn.
"We're calling this controlling what you can when things feel out of control." - Olaf