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You're Not Alone If You’re Struggling With Loneliness During COVID-19

While this time is no doubt incredibly difficult for many of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, living alone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) through these past few weeks has been a challenge like no other. My only source of human contact has been my sister, who has been enormous support but obviously cannot be here all the time. She has four kids, whom she has 50% of the time, and has started back to working from home part-time. I honestly don’t know where I would be without her; I would have no human contact at all, which is terrifying to me.

This has got me thinking about the challenge of living through this crisis on my own and all the other people out there in the same situation as me. As the weeks have gone on, I have started to notice the jokes and memes about families or partners going “crazy” being stuck together. I can’t help but think now, after weeks alone, how insensitive these jokes feel to me now. Every day, I wake up is the beginning of an incredible battle. I think all the time about how much I would give to have company throughout this struggle. The isolation has gradually taken its toll on my mental health. I see couples, families and friends out walking together and at the moment, I can barely get through the day.

All of these things just seem to ram home how lonely I am, and loneliness is something people do not understand unless they have experienced it. Even trying to explain what it feels like to feel lonely, it’s incredibly difficult if the person you are talking to has never been alone. To me, it is sort of like having another layer of illness on top of what I am already battling. I have previously written and talked about the pressure I have felt lately to be doing all these amazing things. Like I should be taking an online course, exercising and learning new skills. Every online marketing company has cleverly shifted toward what you could be doing at home to emerge on the other side of this a better person with a whole bag of new skills and hobbies. Now, even going through my emails every day has become a source of anxiety. Even going for a quick drive to the pharmacy triggers a huge negative thought process as I drive past person after person out walking their dog while mine remains inside, at home with me.

Unfortunately for me, my social circle is non-existent — which is a story for another time — but it means I don’t have friends to Skype or call to fill this massive void of time I face every day. Trying to battle my depression seems insurmountable because I am in my own head for the majority of the time. Over the course of the past few weeks, the voice that tells me I can’t do things, even small things, has gotten more and more powerful and is now driving the conversation. Then comes my anxiety, which builds up over the course of the day and I essentially feel frozen. I’m tired all the time from sheer monotony and repetition — from day after day of feeling this way. These unhealthy thoughts and frustrations start from the moment I open my eyes until the moment I go to bed. 

I feel like the world is cruelest to those it considers weak just now and although I don’t subscribe to that as a general rule, everything is different right now. It feels just like I am sinking and I claw for solid ground, but I am pulled down by my illness and the isolation. I know it won’t be this way forever; my intelligent brain is still there, trying to step in where it can. But I do think it is important to share what is like to go through this alone, to not have anyone to say: “Hey, let’s go for a walk together, or watch a movie together.” To be left to fight what is already an enormous daily battle for me at the best of times, alone and isolated, has gotten progressively harder. I am certain there are many other people in my situation, possibly for the first time.

It’s just me and my mind. I know it can be a terrifying and scary place, and not somewhere I expected to spend so much time. So, I am desperately coming up with ideas and tactics to combat the situation the best way I can. Each day I make it through is another day down and my goal is still to try as hard as I can to try and achieve just one little thing every day. For now, that’s all of me, and as misunderstood as I feel to my loved ones at times, I have to accept that as much as they love me, mental health is a complex beast. They, like me, are doing their best to navigate through this the best way they know.

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Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash